Educator notes the hurdles of acquiring a cosmetology license

By Temi Adeleye


Many practitioners and owners of hair care services achieved success after much effort overcoming several hurdles. One of the biggest hurdles involves state licensing.

The Board of Registration for Cosmetology and Barbering is responsible for awarding “qualified individuals” with a license to practice in cosmetology, barbering and electrology in Massachusetts.

Its website states the board must “Protect the public through regulation of the practice of cosmetology, barbering, and electrology in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”

The Passing of Regulations

Regulations and policies are modified over time to assist in maintaining order within an establishment but sometimes these modifications can be viewed as limitations to achieving success.

Last year, the board enacted a policy calling for hair care professionals to take part in a  Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) review as part of “background checks on applicants for all licenses.”

The policy exempts “Those approved by schools to take the licensing examinations who do not answer affirmatively to question 11 on their applications.”

The question asks, “ Are you the subject of pending disciplinary actions by a licensing/certification board located in the United States or any country or foreign jurisdiction?”  

The policy stated, that after reviewing a list of factors, “The Board may, in its discretion, deny the applicant’s application or Mobile Registration, offer the applicant a conditional license or registration in lieu of denial, or take any other action permitted by law.”

Last year, Gov. Charlie Baker signed a state law that allows hair stylists, barbers and aestheticians to make house calls. Up until July 2016, that was illegal.

In The Boston Globe’s, “Lawmakers Trim Hair-Cutting Rules to Allow for House Calls,” they report that the repercussions were not extreme but they did negatively affect  some businesses.

The newspaper reported stylists had to turn down clients looking for house calls, which then had an effect on their business.

Hurdles of Acquiring a License for Immigrants

Ismelda Ramos, an educator at East Boston Beauty Academy, said the tests for licensing can be an issue for most of her Hispanic students.

She said the exam comes in a form of Spanish that can be unusual to many native speakers. Because of this, the school encourages students to take practice exams, with the given version of Spanish, to better understand the questions.

But Brian Bialas, executive director of the Board of Registration for Cosmetology and Barbering, explained more details about the process, in a response provided by the board’s public relations department.

Bialas said, “The cosmetology operator, aesthetician and manicurist exams come in three languages; Spanish, English and Vietnamese but the apprentice barber exam is only given in English.

He said they are working on translating  the barber exam into Spanish as well and all applicants may bring a translation dictionary in any language to the written exams under this policy.

Applicants must pass a practical and written test to receive their license. The policy said,”That all practical examinations for licensure by the Board of Registration of Cosmetology and Barbering will be administered in English only.”

With the possible understanding of the written and practical tests, Ramos said her school is doing everything to prepare their students for the exam. “We give them books in their language and give them any resources to help them prepare for the tests,” said Ramos.

“It’s easier for English speakers born here but it’s not impossible. They [students] take more of the practice tests.” Ramos said.

When asked whether the obtaining of a license is easy or difficult for immigrants, Bialas referenced the out of country application, which showed similarities to the in country one.

For immigrants they understand that the steps they must take to complete the same tasks comes with hurdles. Ramos understands the difficulties but she knows that there is possibility in them acquiring a license.





About Temi-tope Adeleye 4 Articles

Temi Adeleye is a multimedia reporter who enjoys telling the stories of others. She is versatile in most multimedia elements but photography is her favorite. As a graduate student in Emerson's journalism program, she has learned about the importance of in-depth research. She strives for objective reporting and has realized that this element heavily resides in both text and visuals. In the future, she hopes to be an on-air reporter at a local news station. However, she is open to applying her knowledge in whichever areas they are needed.