When Anthony Fiore wanted to go into the family barbering business, he had to learn not just to cut hair, but also how to perform manicures, pedicures, and other services he never planned to offer to his nearly all-male clientele.
That's because New Jersey barbers have been required to get cosmetology licenses, which involve much more than learning to give a shave and a haircut. For Fiore, a cosmetology course left less time for learning the staples of a classic candy-stripe-pole barbershop. And the hours and dollars spent getting the license, he said, discouraged prospective barbers who just wanted to cut hair.
That requirement, however, soon will be changed in an effort to make it easier for aspiring barbers to enter the field.
"It's definitely a step in the right direction," said Fiore, owner of Caravelli's Barber Shop, a more-than-100-year-old Haddonfield institution. Fiore went through cosmetology courses before he got his barbering license, unlike his father, who learned on the job with relatives in North Jersey.
"It paves the way for a more efficient licensing process," Fiore said.
Gov. Corzine last month signed a law that would re-create separate requirements for classic barbers and for cosmetologists, whose work includes hairstyling and other more aesthetic services, such as waxing. The idea is that the requirements for barbers would focus more on the skills needed for that trade.
The change comes after several lawmakers said their barbers could not find employees and blamed the cosmetology requirements as a barrier to newcomers.
"It was a dying art," said Assemblyman Louis Greenwald (D., Camden), one of the sponsors of the law.
Greenwald said that as a child, he went with his grandfather to barbershops, and as an adult brought his son to a local barber for his first haircut. He said the trade was worth preserving.
The new law will "differentiate between those people who are looking to do more of a salon-type career, compared to those who are interested truly in barbering," Greenwald said. "It will streamline the process for those who wish to be in the barbering profession."
New Jersey's barbering and cosmetology license requirements were merged under a 1984 law, enacted as the longer hairstyles of the time meant more-involved haircuts for many men, according to the state Division of Consumer Affairs.
Anyone wanting to be a barber also had to learn cosmetology practices. Pennsylvania has had separate licenses for the two fields.
The new rule will take effect after the Division of Consumer Affairs has drafted specific provisions.
Fiore said he and other barbers had hoped for an apprenticeship program that would allow trainees to learn on the job in shops, but such a provision was not included in the law.
"We're extremely pleased, but there's always more that can be done," Fiore said.
Sen. Joseph Kyrillos (R., Monmouth), another sponsor of the bill, said he hoped the new regulations will let his Shore-area barber finally hire another hand to help with haircuts.
"I'm hopeful and optimistic that what will ensue is that old-fashioned barbers that want to cut men's hair can more easily get the training, the licenses, they need," Kyrillos said.