Do cosmetologists get drug tested?

Do Cosmetologists Get Drug Tested?


Many of us have been unable to resist the temptation. Maybe your bangs needed some minor attention, or perhaps you just wanted to cut off a few split ends. When it comes to cutting your own hair, less is more, and giving yourself a haircut can easily end in disaster.

I was once attempting to touch up my hair before going to a party. I shouldn’t have had that wine while I was getting ready. I took a bit more off, and then a bit more, and I was certain that I was heading in the right direction. I was not. I had to go hat shopping.

When it comes to hairdressing and cosmetology, a high degree of precision is required to get the job done well. This precision is impossible when the person doing the job is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Let’s look at how drug and alcohol testing affects cosmetology.

Do Hair Salons Drug Test?

Almost any employer can impose a mandatory drug test, subject to applicable state laws, although there are professions where it’s going to be more likely to happen.

Airline pilots, delivery drivers, and surgeons: these are roles where being under the influence of an illicit substance can be more disastrous than heavy-handed eye shadow, or a feather cut that is more dead chicken than bird of paradise.

So, in short, yes, salons can drug test their employees, although the nature of permitted testing depends on state law.

How Does State Law Affect the Types of Drug Tests That Can Be Performed?

There is no comprehensive federal drug testing legislation, and the permitted forms of drug testing are regulated by state governments. This means there is some variation about just what is allowed, so be sure to check the law in your specific state to learn the extent of the testing you could be subjected to.

Some states allow employers to perform randomized testing, and some only permit probable cause testing, as in when an employer has legitimate grounds to suspect that an employee is under the influence of an illicit substance.

Is There a Drug and Alcohol Policy I Can Read?

A drug and alcohol policy is standard for most businesses. You would have received a copy of this when you started at the salon, so have a look at it for specific details, even though the answer is probably only going to be that the possibility for drug testing exists.

Be aware that some salons might not have a specific policy, and will simply use applicable state laws as a guideline for testing.

How Likely Is Drug Testing at Hair Salons?

How Likely Is Drug Testing at Hair Salons

You could work at a salon for decades and never be drug tested. The industry is very much at the lower end of the testing spectrum, and it’s estimated that you only have a 3% chance of being tested for alcohol or drugs while working in this field.

The odds are in your favor, but it’s best not to push your luck. You’re the face of their business, and if a salon believes an employee is attending to a customer while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they have a right to take action (probable cause), since this can jeopardize their reputation, and can ultimately affect their bottom line.

Is Substance Abuse Common in Cosmetology?

Cosmetologists are classified as personal service workers, which is an industry with one of the highest rates of substance abuse, with 7.7% of survey respondents in this field admitting to drug use in the last 30 days. When something is common in the statistical sense, this isn’t the same as saying it has been normalized.

Drug testing isn’t necessarily conducted to name and shame offenders, and it can take place out of concern for your welfare, along with your employer looking to safeguard their business. And yet, a positive test can be grounds for disciplinary action, or even dismissal.

Related Reading: Is Being a Cosmetologist Worth It?

Is Marijuana Considered an Illicit Substance?

The legal classification of marijuana has changed a fair amount in recent years, and will probably keep changing as more and more states legalize it. Recreational use of marijuana is permitted in 11 states, but this doesn’t mean that you can light up before heading into work at the salon.

Alcohol is legal, but you certainly shouldn’t be under its influence in the workplace. And yet, if you have a fondness for the green, you need to be aware of how it can affect a drug test.

It can stay in the body for days, or even weeks after consumption, and can still show up in a drug test during this time. But this allows you to mount a defense in the event of a positive drug test.

While the drug might still be present in your system, you’re not under its influence, and so it won’t have affected your duties at the salon.

What Should I Do If I’m a Cosmetologist Experiencing Substance Abuse Issues?

If you have a problem with substance abuse, don’t hesitate to discuss the matter with your employer, even though this can feel like an incredibly difficult step to take. They need to be kept in the loop, so that responsibilities at work, while getting you the help that might be needed.

Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous are both excellent starting points.

Will I Get Drug Tested for Cosmetology School?

Maybe you’re not that far into your cosmetology career, and are still training. Do you need to be concerned about drug testing at this stage? Concerned might be an overstatement, but just as when you’re in employment, schools can opt to drug test students.

Your school will have a drug and alcohol policy, so refer to this document for further information. The details are going to vary, but it will generally state that alcohol and drugs cannot be consumed on school property, nor can you be under the influence of alcohol or drugs while on school property. This policy will also specify whether drug testing is conducted as a condition for enrollment.

Want to pass your cosmetology state exam with flying colors? Why not try this ultimate cosmetology exam cheat sheet

Do State Laws for Drug Testing Still Apply When in Cosmetology School?

Drug testing for existing students or pre-enrollment testing isn’t something that’s specific to cosmetology school, and any private or public educational facility reserves the right to conduct drug tests, subject to applicable state laws, meaning that this testing can be randomized, or might be ordered if substance abuse is suspected.

If you are concerned about your relationship with drugs or alcohol, you should consider discussing the issue with your school counselor or applicable staff member.

Substance abuse, or even mild drug or alcohol consumption have no place at the salon, which is why drug testing exists in the industry. Would you really want someone cutting your hair after a vodka or two?

Frequent Asked Questions

What triggers a drug test for a cosmetologist?

Drug testing can be introduced through pre-employment requirements, reasonable suspicion of drug abuse, following an accident at work, or as part of a random screening program.

Are drug tests common in the beauty industry?

Drug testing policies vary widely among employers in the beauty industry. This is rare in smaller salons but more pronounced in larger chains or corporate locations.

What types of drug tests are used?

Employers can screen for drugs using urine, hair, saliva, or blood tests.

Can refusing a drug test result in job loss for a cosmetologist?

Yes, refusing a drug test can result in disciplinary action, including termination, especially if the test affects stated company policies.

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