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Things to Know Before Attending Cosmetology School

Last updated March 17, 2022

There are many career paths you can choose to tap into your creativity, passions, and interests. Lots of them also might not need a four year college degree to reach! A vocational trade school is a great option if you want to explore a certain career path while cutting down on the cost of a traditional four-year degree! If you are interested in serving others and have a passion for wellness and beauty, you might be a great candidate for working in the cosmetology field! Here are some important things to keep in mind if you’re considering attending a cosmetology school.

Things to Know Before Attending Cosmetology School

Who goes to cosmetology school?

Can you imagine getting an education in beauty? That is exactly what studying cosmetology is all about! “Cosmetology” is a broad term for a series of services that includes hairdressing, makeup artistry, barbering, and manicuring. If you find yourself interested in any of those professions, enrolling in a cosmetology program may be right for you! Cosmetologists are creative, entrepreneurial, enjoy having a flexible schedule, and love to work with and serve people.

What does a cosmetology program entail?

Because trade programs, including cosmetology, are a bit different from four-year colleges, they have different criteria for “accreditation” - meaning that the program has been evaluated for its quality and that you can trust it! Before choosing any program, be sure to check if it is accredited. If your school is not accredited, it could affect your chances of receiving any kind of federal financial aid to pay for it. You should be able to find out whether or not a school is accredited directly on their website, or by checking out the National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences.

Once you know that any program you are applying to is accredited, you can start to think about what this educational path could look like for you! There are three main types of cosmetology programs you might find: programs attached to community colleges, dedicated cosmetology schools, and apprenticeship programs. These programs can vary in the length of time it takes to complete the required coursework.

Something to note is that some programs are meant to be part-time. Another thing to consider is that that there may be programs for specific professions, like a hairdresser, while other programs may have a more holistic approach to becoming a “cosmetologist”, which might include learning about nails, make-up, wigs, skin care, hairdressing etc. This will mean that the program will likely take longer to complete. Community college programs might be shorter term (6 months to a year) where dedicated cosmetology schools like Sasoon Academy or Empire Beauty Schools may take a bit longer (1-2 years). There are also 21 states that have official apprenticeship programs for cosmetology where you can work in a salon and learn your trade from a mentor.

What kinds of classes are offered?

No matter what program you choose, you can expect to get an education directly tied to jobs in the beauty and wellness industry. In addition to learning about core cosmetology skills and practices, these programs will likely also include classes about health and safety, customer service, relationship building. These are important practical skills to have, especially if you plan to work in a public-facing business or dream to own your own business after finishing your program!

The most important end goal for any program, no matter what career you choose to pursue within the wider cosmetology field, is that you feel prepared to take your state’s licensing exam - an exam you will need to pass in order to work. When you’re choosing a program, be sure to ask about how it’ll prepare you for this exam!

Each program will tailor your course of study to the requirements that your state has in place to receive a cosmetologist’s license. You’ll likely take classes in facials, hairdressing for different types of hair, nail care, skin care, and make-up. If you want to open your own salon someday, you might also get to take classes in business management and entrepreneurship. No matter what program you end up choosing, your education will be hands-on, experimental, and tied directly to a job right after you complete your program!

Things to Know Before Attending Cosmetology School

Paying for cosmetology school

Just like any education after high school, cosmetology programs do have a cost. They are, however, generally more affordable than most four-year colleges or universities. Community college programs are typically the most affordable, while dedicated beauty schools tend to be more expensive. If you are an apprentice, you may actually be getting paid to learn and work at the same time!

Like all post-high school education, you can receive financial aid and scholarships to reduce the cost of attendance. In order to receive federal financial aid, the program you’re going to must be an accredited program - be sure to do your research before committing to any school or program. Be sure to fill out your FAFSA and text us if you have any questions related to financial aid!

Career options and tips

Getting your cosmetology degree, certificate, or license opens you up to all sorts of great career opportunities! You can become an employee at a number of different types of businesses, like hotels, spas, salons, cruise companies, and resorts. Many salons also offer “rental chairs,” where you build up a loyal clientele base and get recognized in your practice. Make-up artists, hair stylists, and skincare professionals are also in high demand in the creative industry - including film, theater, and television!

Planning for your future can be overwhelming, but we are here to help! Text #Jobs to 33-55-77 and one of our jobs counselors will help you with any questions or support you need!  

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