Cosmetology Students' Careers On Hold While State Scrambles to Catch Up on Test Delays

At Bellus Academy in El Cajon, cosmetology school graduates wait for their chance behind a chair

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The pandemic has paused so much in our lives. In the cosmetology industry, thousands of graduated students have been waiting to start their careers for months.

That's because COVID-19 restrictions shut down the state's in-person exam cosmetologist hopefuls have to pass to get their license.

At Bellus Academy in El Cajon, cosmetology school graduates wait for their chance behind a chair. Raeley Velasco finished school six months ago and was supposed to take her license test to get her career going, but the pandemic interrupted her plans.

“I guess I can’t make a living because I cannot work on people without a license. So my mom is a horse trainer so I help her to keep the money flowing in. But I would love to be doing hair,” said Velasco.

So she's been practicing and waiting for a rescheduled exam date.

“I got an anticipated date for March in November, and I have not heard anything since,” said Velasco.“It is unfair. I feel like the unfair part is the no communication.”

Congressman Darrell Issa (CA-50) has been trying to push Governor Gavin Newsom’s attention toward the delays. He visited Bellus Academy's El Cajon location and talked with students about their frustrations.

“When shops are open and they say they can’t get enough labor and there’s thousands of people who have graduated who aren’t allowed to be their labor because the state hasn’t taken the couple of hours to get them tested. That’s unacceptable,” said Issa.

Issa wrote to Governor Newsom asking for a waiver for California cosmetology school graduates.

“Let these people work safely under the supervision of people who already have their licenses and then let the state get caught up," said Issa.

The state's Board of Barbering and Cosmetology said it’s working on getting those canceled in-person tests back on the books.

“I would love to get my date, just so I know. I know when I have to be on point by and all my understandings of what needs to be done. I would just love, really, a date. That’s really just it,” said Velasco.

While the backlog of canceled tests takes time to reschedule, she just hopes for better communication about the process.

The Board of Barbering and Cosmetology provided the following statement:

The Board of Barbering and Cosmetology continues to work diligently to further expand licensing exam availability and mitigate the impacts COVID-19 has had on in-person exams. While exams sites were initially closed during the beginning of the pandemic, licensing exams resumed in June 2020 with a temporary pause December through February. The Board has prioritized scheduling for all candidates who had their examination cancelled or were affected by the site closures. The Board also expects all students who were impacted by the delay to have exam dates provided to them in the month of April with expected exam dates now through July.      

We understand students are eager to take their final exam and ensuring they have an avenue to obtain licensure is a top priority for the Board. We continue to further identify solutions to best meet the needs of students in the COVID-19 environment while continuing our primary mission of protecting consumers."

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