Marie Williamson, cosmetology instructor at Cherokee County Career and Technology Center, shared recent what her program offers for local students as part of Career and Technology Month.
According to Williamson, the Cosmetology program at Cherokee County Career and Technology Center is a three year program giving students the opportunity to earn 500 hours of training per year.
“Our program is the only one in the state that has completers,” explained Williamson. “What that means is that after they are with me for three years, they can go ahead and take their state board and go work in a salon. And that is good because a lot of students may not have the opportunity to go to a postsecondary school.”
“The first year they start out with shampooing, and learning their chemicals and safety concerns,” noted Williamson. “The second year, they start our with the perms and hair cutting and now they are doing color.”
“My third year is what we call our completers and take customers on Tuesdays and Thursdays from the community,” said Williamson. “They do the customers and after they do that, they work on the state board. I prepare them for the state board. I help them fill out their papers and everything.”
This year, Williamson says, there are 80 students in the program all of which are female, although there have been males who have completed the program in the past.
“Last year we were running about 100 students, but it varies,” said Williamson. “We offer a really good program.”
Williamson shared how her students’ core academic courses help them out in cosmetology training.
“You have to know human anatomy, you have to know your chemistry, you have to know like all the muscles to do massages even on the hands,” said Williamson. “Most people don’t realize that. Some think they are just going to cut hair, but you have to know the bones, you have to know how to apply facial makeup, you have to know where the cheekbones are.”
“And there is geometry,” said Williamson. “Cutting hair is angles. You have your zero degree, your 45, your 90, or 180. So you are applying them what you are taught in your basic courses.”
Williams speculated on potential annual earnings for someone with Cosmetology training.
“They can earn anywhere from $35,000 to $50,000 and on up,” said Williamson. “You can specialize. You can be just a colorist or you can work for the big companies like Paul Mitchell, platform artists. You can own your own salon or work for somebody. There’s just a lot of different opportunities to just sell products. Those have to be people that have licenses because they have to know the products. There are manicurists, nail techs, massage therapists.”
“They have to learn the basics of pedicures, manicures, coloring, haircuts with scissors, razors, they have to be able to do perms,” said Williamson.
To specialize, however, they would need to pursue additional training, possibly at Gadsden State Community College or Snead State Community College, she said.
And like everything else, Williamson said, it doesn’t take too long for students to learn if Cosmetology is the right choice for a career.
“We have theory classes when the go into the classroom two times a week,” said Williamson. “The sometimes think, ‘well if we could just stay in the lab.’ It is not just the lab and doing hands on, you have to learn your book work too because you are using chemicals scissors, trimmers. It is a combination of both. They usually find out after the first semester if they like it or not.”