CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — As clients showed up to Cape May County Technical School last week, they signed into the main office and were guided down the hallway to the hair salon for their hair or skin appointment. It’s not a typical way to see a stylist, but the clients see there’s a dual benefit for the two dozen cosmetology students.
“It’s cheaper and I feel like I’m helping these girls gain that experience. I just think it’s very cool,” said Christy Lasley who was getting her hair colored last week.
The students have been taking appointments over the last month as part of their class hours required to obtain a professional state license after they graduate. Thanks to programs like these, aspiring young cosmetologists don’t have to wait until they finish high school nor do they have to choose between the two. Many New Jersey county technical and vocational schools offer programs during the normal school day for students to earn all 1,000 hours required to attain a license.
“I think it’s one of the best opportunities in this school,” said senior Maddie DeLuca.
DeLuca, 18, of Dennis Township, is an aspiring makeup artist who is attending the Make-up Designory in New York next year. She said she has a passion for helping people feel good.
“It’s more the art of makeup, making someone feel beautiful,” DeLuca said.
Cosmetology teacher Jackie Holland said the class has always been very popular at Cape May County Technical School — she graduated from the program 35 years ago.
“I think it’s because they graduate, hopefully, with a state license and go right into the field,” Holland said.
After a career in the field and taking some time off to raise her children, Holland is back at Cape May Tech teaching that same program. She said students can be surprised at all there is to learn in the class.
“It’s a lot of reading. It’s a lot of science,” she said.
Students learn about different skin and nail diseases and conditions, as well as chemical reactions and more.
In New Jersey, 15,610 people are employed in the cosmetology profession as of May 2016, according to federal employment data. New Jersey cosmetologists are also some of the best paid in the nation with a mean wage of $17.77 per hour. And Cape May County in particular has one of the highest concentrations of cosmetologists in the country, federal data shows.
Atlantic County Institute of Technology has an equally popular program, according to Jamie Moscony, director of curriculum and instruction. She said currently, there are 114 students enrolled in cosmetology, and every year the class size gets bigger.
“It’s a very successful program,” she said. “We often have waiting lists.”
Moscony said there were 11 seniors in the program in 2014, and this year there are 27.
“More students want to come into this field because there’s so many different applications. It’s not just working in salons,” she said.
Students can pursue professions in skin, nails, makeup application, hair dressing or barbering. There are also careers on the business end in sales and marketing, and there is always the option to become an entrepreneur. In the immediate area, students can use their license to work in casinos or in performing arts. Moscony said about half of her students pursue a degree while the other half start working right away.
“One is actually working her way through school at Stockton,” she said. “She wants to be a lawyer.”
Holland said the students enrolled in cosmetology earn 1,000 hours toward their license. At 600 hours, they earn a student permit to begin legally cutting hair or doing skincare under the supervision of their teacher.
Holland said the students get the same instruction they would at a beauty school and take the same test for their state license.
“It’s really not much different. We go to the boards with everybody,” Holland said.
Taylor Profit, 17, of Dennis Township, was taking a turn at the receptionist desk at Cape May Tech on Friday. She said she had always had an interest in hair and makeup, so when she heard about the offering at Cape May Tech, she knew she wanted to enroll.
“It really just clicked for me,” said Profit, who said she wants to be a dermatologist.
She said her own experiences dealing with skin issues like acne made her particularly interested in skin care. Profit, who is heading to technical college in Cherry Hill in the fall, said the class has prepared her for the industry.
“I love that about this class, about how very hands-on it is. It really sets us up for the field,” she said.