Last year we shared some of our extensive experience and knowledge of barbering and cosmetology in a blog post, The Changing World Of Cosmetology. We have both worked in the sector for many years – as practitioners, instructors, and examiners. Now we work on the licensure side, putting our experience into developing the PSI National Barber and Cosmetology Program as well as supporting states to make the transition to this pioneering national program.
We’ve worked in the sector long enough to witness a complete transformation. One significant change for the better is the increased recognition by State Boards of Barbering and Cosmetology that we need a more national approach – one that reduces barriers to licensure while protecting public safety. As a result, more states are signing up to utilize the PSI National Barber and Cosmetology Program.
In this blog post, we outline some of the benefits and rationale for State Licensing Bodies moving to PSI’s series of standardized theoretical and practical tests.
Relevance and consistency
Discussions about making it easier for licensees to relocate to a different state without the time and expense of securing a new license aren’t new. Progress has been slow, but the pace is picking up. Equally, Federal/State legislators see a lot of the historic content in traditional licensure testing isn’t relevant. They want up-to-date test content that focuses primarily on public health and safety. That’s where the PSI program comes in with fair, valid, and reliable content that is applicable to a national audience.
The priority for state licensure must be public safety – including the safety of the licensee. The PSI program validates knowledge beyond simple recall and recognition whether a test taker is using the necessary tools and products safely. This means the knowledge required to obtain a license is far more likely to be applied on the job, not just during the test.
What’s more, our new scoring tool ensures consistency and fairness when it comes to test results. The tool is used by our team of highly trained National Examiners, all recruited and certified to meet evolving public health and safety standards.
Convenience and flexibility
The PSI team recently launched the National Barber and Cosmetology Program in Tennessee. Test takers in the state can now take the theory section of their licensure test remotely with online proctoring. This removes the time and expense of traveling to a test center and can significantly reduce test taker anxiety.
For the first time ever, test takers in Tennessee have the flexibility of multi-modal testing when it comes to the practical section of their licensure test. They can choose to either take their test remotely with online proctoring or in-person at a convenient test center location. A new scheduling platform makes booking a test easy, including evening and weekend timeslots.
The power of data
The move to online testing comes with the added benefit of data which provides insight to see where education levels might be lacking and which steps to take to fill those gaps.
For example, we are able to use testing data to assess if the schools are providing accurate preparation for the students taking the practical examination. School scores can be compared to the state and national mean and then determine if more emphasis needs placed on public health and safety. All this data can be reviewed at individual levels and this information can be fed into the national and state programs.
Growing national movement
The move to a more national approach for barber and cosmetology licensure isn’t confined to a handful of states. It’s a national movement with widespread support and important implications. The PSI team recently attended a meeting of the Federation of Associations of Regulatory Boards (FARB) where the issue of military spouses was discussed. The need to reciprocate a license when moving to a new state is a particular issue for this group, who tend to relocate on a regular basis.
It was extremely positive to see FARB pushing to address this matter and supporting a change to the state-based nature of barber and cosmetology licensure. While several states already allow licenses to transfer between them, more are updating their laws to help spouses get their licenses quickly. It’s a common approach in other areas of licensure and becoming the norm rather than the exception as more states are seeing this as something they need to do.
Responding to needs
Partnerships are essential and the PSI team continues to work with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to inform the content of the national program. It’s part of our ongoing commitment to ensure all program content remains relevant and up to date. The team is currently scheduling an upcoming review of the national test content with SMEs from all over the US.
Staying current and responding to change is particularly important in a sector that is continually evolving. New specialisms and techniques are constantly entering the market. Sometimes these are just passing fads and sometimes they are adopted in the long term. One such example is electrolysis for hair removal. Despite the procedure being in use for decades, knowledge, information, and legislation has taken a while to catch up. PSI recently introduced a new licensure test for electrolysis to ensure all practitioners are doing so safely.
Train the trainer
A high standard of teaching is vital to the future of the profession. For this reason, the next addition to the program will be testing for classroom facilitators. There has already been a positive response to the national program from this group with instructors saying that it’s great to see tests for their students that are assessing something new. They are embracing the use of textbooks to teach and are enthusiastic that those who teach to the book are rewarded with good results, rather than those who teach to the test.
Like us, these instructors believe the purpose of licensure is about doing things the right way with the primary objective being not just passing a test, but the ongoing safety of the consumer and the licensee. We are delighted that we can facilitate this approach with the states that have already signed up for the PSI National Barber and Cosmetology Program.
Lynn Thomas is the Account Management Director, Cosmetology Services at PSI and has been with the company for 13 years. She has been a licensed cosmetologist/barber for over 34 years and carries an active license in five states. Lynn has extensive experience in many different roles within the industry, including salon owner, examiner for practical examinations, and trainer to over 200 examiners across the country for practical exam administrations. She has also participated as a subject matter expert on a national level for all related cosmetology/barber examinations. Additionally, she has spoken at cosmetology/barber conferences such as TIVA, CIPS, and instructor symposiums in several states. Lynn is a member of PBA, FARB, NABBA, and the local chapter in her home state of Utah for Women in Leadership.
Shawn Conder is an Account Manager for Cosmetology/Barbering Services and the PSI National Cosmetology/Barbering Advisory Board Chairman. Throughout his tenure in the cosmetology industry, he has obtained multiple licenses within the beauty field. His career has included salon owner, educator, public speaker, and subject matter expert for examination content and textbook review. He has served in various roles which include working alongside nearly all state boards of cosmetology, barbering, and body arts throughout the United States as well as providing training to trade schools – both public and private – for their state’s examination processes and continued education. He is an advocate of beauty licensure and has worked with many national and state committees on projects to protect the future of licensees in the beauty industry.