Cosmetology schools not just for women anymore

John Riley, a cosmetology student. (Photo: ABC7)

The beauty industry is not just for women anymore as more and more men are jumping to the business.

According to the American Association of Cosmetology Schools, the personal care industry is expected grow by 20 percent in the next eight years, which means you may see more men tending to your beauty needs.

At the Graham Webb Academy{ }in Arlington, cosmetology students are well into their year-long training.

"I was a marketing major and … I had a 3.8 GPA, which the highest it’s ever been for me, and everyday coming home, I had the worst migraines and I just didn’t love it. I didn't love what I was doing,' said Nam Nguyen, student.

Despite the recent recession and loss of more than one and a half million jobs, the number of hair salons went up by nearly 8 percent{ }between 2008 and 2009, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And, the Professional Beauty Association says the field has actually added 75,000 jobs.

"When I was going to school, I think, I was one of two [men] so the industry has really grown for men.” said Christopher, an instructor at the school.

“Men are now getting more creative and they want to see their women look good,” Christopher said.

The Graham Webb Academy has seen a 15 percent increase since it opened 10 years ago.

For John Riley, a former accountant and twice as old as any other student,{ }going to cosmetology school{ }was a massive career change.

“I quit my job and we budgeted, with my wife's blessings, and with her help we kind of struggled through. I went [to cosmetology school] full-time,” said John Riley, student. “I wanted something more creative … I had been cutting my own hair for about 13 years,” Riley said.

For others, they were born to do it.

“My dad’s been a barber for over 30 years … my sister’s a cosmetologist, she owns her own nail salon,” Nguyen said.

But even if back facials don't come naturally to some.

"Parting long hair and putting roller sets in and doing perms is stuff I’ve never done in my life so the first couple of weeks were frustrating, Riley said.

There are always advantages to trying something new.

"Yeah we get to meet a lot of women," Christopher said.