Man Up: Dual Licenses

(Fernie Andong and Nieves Almaraz)

Two of the industry’s top barbers—Fernie Andong (@fernthebarber) and Nieves Almaraz (@howtofadehair)—talk about the advantages of having both a cosmetology and a barbering license in the ever-growing world of men’s grooming. 

Fernie Andong, Paul Mitchell Barber Specialist 

His first license… I received my cosmetology license first. One random day after work, I stopped into Paul Mitchell the School and picked up an application. A month later I was enrolled.  


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His desire for a second license… When I was a cosmetology instructor, a student needed help with a skin fade. It was my job to help get the student out of the jam, but no one—including myself—knew how to do a proper fade. We faked our way through it. The client wasn’t happy. And I felt like I failed. I didn’t want to feel like that ever again, so that day after work I enrolled at The Real Barber’s College in Anaheim, CA.

His biggest hurdle getting a second license… Transportation. I would have to catch a bus or bum a ride. Paul Mitchell was very supportive of me going to barber school, knowing the skill set I’d learn would benefit them too. And, at school I would show my peers how to use scissors, because they did not teach that at The Real Barber’s College. In return they would teach me how to do clipper work.

His best advice for getting a second license… Watch your ego. Don’t be afraid to be a learner again and ask questions. Save some cash before you go back to school because it does cut into your work schedule. And, ask yourself: Why am I doing this? Don’t do it because it’s cool. You’ve got to really love the craft. 

His life now with both licenses… Having both licenses allows me to bridge the gap between barbering and cosmetology. And, getting a new license gave me the opportunity to be a learner again. As soon as you stop learning, you stop growing.   

Nieves Almaraz, Wahl Education and Artistic Team member 

His first license… I received my cosmetology license first, with the intention of learning how to do shear work because I already felt comfortable with clippers. I actually find that funny now; I still apply all those shear-cutting techniques in my classes, but I use clippers instead.

His desire for a second license… I wanted to get my barber’s license because in my state you’re required to hold a barber license to use a straight edge razor.

His biggest hurdle getting a second license… Balancing time at my own business, Jacob’s Barber Shop in Cicero, IL, and succeeding in school at the same time.

His best advice for finding a new school… Do your research and choose the school wisely. It’s important to go to a school with patience and understanding. Some schools even give you credit for having a license already, requiring fewer hours for the program as well as taking money off of your tuition. I also recommend finding a school that offers both day and night classes to accommodate your work schedule.

His life now with both licenses… I have several clients that I use both skill sets on during their service. They’re looking for a longer, textured style that is traditionally done by a cosmetologist, along with a short, faded clipper cut on the sides and back, which is a barber’s specialty. I’ve also seen a boost in revenue because I’m able to provide both services in one place.