State high school cosmetology programs in jeopardy, not meeting federal requirements

Inside the "Lobo Looks" salon at Lehman High School, you'll find hands on learning, and prep for the real world, just ask Jessica Martinez.

“We are prepared professionally to actually go out there. We have requirements. We can't be on our phones in class, we have to dress up like we have to go to work,” said Martinez.

Martinez is a senior, and will leave this program licensed and ready for work.

“I've always liked making people feel good about themselves with their hair, makeup,” said Martinez.

The Texas Education Agency says of all the major trade programs in Texas schools, cosmetology is not making the cut.

“At the moment the cosmetology program as it stands meets neither the high wage nor post-secondary requirement that's outlined in our federal requirements,” said Lauren Callahan, spokesperson, Texas Education Agency.

Texas career tech programs must meet these requirements to continue to get money from the government: provide success in a post-secondary pathway, must be in high demand, and earn high wages. The agency says the statewide median income for someone in cosmetology is $35,399.

“We are attempting to ensure that all of our programs of study are in alignment with all of those federal requirements,” said Callahan.

For aspiring beauticians and barbers like Martinez the concern is serious.

“It's really upsetting, because this career gives us a lot of opportunities,” said Martinez.

Kelly Carson owns her own salon and also teaches the Lehman class. She says cosmetology was and always will be a passion for her, and hopes to spread that same passion to her students.

“I don't know where I would be today. It's very emotional. If I hadn't had that opportunity, in all honesty I don't know where I'd be. Not all these kids have the resources to be able to go to college and a lot of them graduate and their hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and it's not fair,” said Carson.