If you’re passionate about using hairstyling and cosmetics to improve your personal appearance, you may be thinking about attending beauty school. Cosmetology is a fast growing profession; employment opportunities are expected to grow by 20 percent in the next decade. Attending beauty school can help you develop the skills you need to succeed in this exciting field.
To attend beauty school, you typically need to have either a high school diploma or a GED. A full-time program generally lasts between nine months and one year, although programs for manicurists and estheticians may take less time to complete. Scholarships, grants, and loans are available if you attend a properly accredited school.
- The cosmetology profession includes jobs for hairstylists and makeup artists, as well as manicurists, nail technicians, estheticians, and electrologists.Not all beauty schools offer training in all of these areas, however.
- When you are choosing a school to attend, you will want to look at the curriculum carefully to see what training is provided in your area of interest.
While many people think of beauty school as just an extension of the makeup and hair tips you read in fashion magazines, beauty school students are expected to memorize large amounts of information. They must learn about infection control and decontamination to make sure their customers are served safely. They learn about the basics of chemistry and anatomy, as well as how to project a professional image. Some beauty schools also include instruction in the basics of entrepreneurship, since it is common for beauty school graduates to want to open their own salons.
After graduating from beauty school, you must be licensed before you can get a job in your state. Each state has slightly different licensing requirements, but you must generally complete a written examination and pay a licensing fee. Many states also require an oral exam or a practical test to demonstrate your skills. Once you receive your license, it will likely need to be renewed on a regular basis. If you decide to move to another state, you will need to complete an additional set of exams. Most states do not have reciprocity agreements for cosmetology licenses.
Earnings for beauty school graduates who have passed the appropriate state licensing exams typically range between $11 and $15 per hour for entry level positions. However, many cosmetologists earn a significant portion of their income from tips. There are also a number of cosmetologists who are self-employed or work part time to balance their career with family responsibilities. All of these factors can have an impact on potential earnings.
Choosing a Beauty School
Choosing a beauty school to attend is one of the most important decisions you’ll make as a cosmetologist. Without the proper training, it’s impossible to succeed in this competitive career field.
When searching for beauty schools to attend, you’ll want to look at the school’s ranking and reputation. As a new graduate with minimal professional experience, being able to list a respected school on your résumé will be a great asset. Graduating from the Paul Mitchell School will make it much easier for you to land your first job than if you were to earn your degree at a local beauty school. If you’re not sure what beauty schools in your area are the most respected, ask the cosmetologists at your favorite salon where they received their training and what beauty schools they would personally recommend.
The availability of financial aid is an important consideration when attending any sort of postsecondary education program. If the school you are considering attending has received the proper accreditation, you may be eligible for a Pell Grant or a low interest federal student loan. Many beauty schools also offer a number of scholarships you can apply for to help offset the cost of your tuition, fees, and supplies.
All states require cosmetologists to be licensed before they are allowed to work in a salon. Each state has the authority to set its own rules, but most do require that you graduate from an approved beauty school before you complete the state licensing exam. If you have questions about whether the beauty school you wish to attend is approved in your state, contact the State Board of Cosmetology for additional information.
- What Makes a Good Beauty School Student?
- Beauty School Admission
- Beauty Degrees
- Licensing Tests
- Cost of Beauty School
- Paying for Beauty School
- Preparing for the Job Search
- Beauty Careers
- Potential Employers for Beauty School Graduates
Types of Beauty Schools
If you’re thinking about attending beauty school, it’s important to realize that not all programs are created equally. You will want to investigate course offerings carefully before enrolling as a beauty school student. If you are going to invest your time and money in training for a new career, you’ll want to choose a program that will offer training that is in line with your professional goals.
Beauty school classes are offered at many community colleges. There are also programs offered through private schools such as Capri College, the Aveda Institute, and the American Hair Academy. Programs offered at community colleges are often more affordable, but private school programs that are properly accredited are still eligible for federal student financial aid programs such as Pell Grants and low interest student loans.
Many beauty schools offer combination courses that teach the basics of several different areas. Students learn about hairstyling and makeup, as well as nail care, skin care, and hair removal. This is a good way for beginners to build their skills, but it doesn’t provide enough training to be a specialist in any particular cosmetology discipline.
The more prestigious beauty schools tend to focus on just one area of cosmetology. For example, these schools may work on having students become experts in hairstyling so they can work at higher end salons. A school may train a student in makeup application, including the skills needed to become a makeup artist for television or theater productions.
Beauty school programs typically take between nine months and one year of full-time attendance to complete, although training that focuses on nail or skin care can be completed in less time.
Some beauty schools offer a certificate, while others provide an associate degree upon completion. If a program offers an associate degree, it will generally require the completion of additional courses in areas such as communication, accounting, marketing, and business practices. While this training is often not thought of as part of a beauty school curriculum, it can be useful if you aspire to someday open your own salon.
Beauty schools will help you prepare for your state licensing exam, but you won’t be able to actually take the examination until after you graduate. Requirements vary by state, but you may be expected to complete a written exam, an oral exam, and a practical evaluation of your cosmetology skills.
Beauty School Accreditation
When choosing a beauty school to attend, you may be looking at factors such as the location, curriculum, employment placement rate, and cost of attendance. However, many students make the mistake of overlooking the importance of beauty school accreditation.
Accreditation means a beauty school has been recognized as providing quality training for people who are interested in entering the cosmetology profession. The school’s course offerings, faculty, admissions policies, and facilities are all considered when awarded accreditation.
The National Accrediting Commission for Cosmetology Arts & Sciences (NACCAS) is the largest organization that provides beauty school accreditation. It is a private agency, but it is recognized by the United States Department of Education as a respected authority on the quality of beauty school programs. There are over one thousand beauty schools in the United States that have received accreditation from the NACCAS.
Some of the other organizations that can accredit beauty schools include:
- Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT)
- Accrediting Council for Continued Education & Training (ACCET)
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)
- American Association of Cosmetology Schools (AACS)
The most important reason to choose an accredited beauty school is eligibility for financial aid. If you attend an accredited beauty school, you can fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to receive a Pell Grant or low interest student loans.
Rankings of Beauty Schools
Students who are looking to attend traditional four-year colleges often look to school rankings published in the U.S. News & World Report or The Princeton Review as a resource for determining the quality of a particular program. Beauty schools, however, are not ranked by these publications. To find beauty schools rankings, you’ll have to be more creative with your research.
If you’re looking at programs offered by community colleges, you can check out general community college rankings through The Washington Monthly or Career College Week. These rankings are based on factors such as the depth of course offerings, the qualifications of faculty, the amount of financial aid available, and the job placement rate for graduating students. Although these rankings don’t look at beauty school programs specifically, a community college that is highly regarded overall is likely to offer a quality program for training in hairstyling, makeup, skin care, and nail care.
Professional associations such as the American Association of Cosmetology Schools regularly offer awards to member schools for various accomplishments. Looking at past award winners can help you get a sense of beauty school rankings, especially if you have a very specific area of the cosmetology profession that you are most interested in. In addition, attending a school that has won many of these types of awards may give you a résumé boost when you’re looking for your first job.
Websites offering student reviews also rank beauty schools, although student reviews can be highly subjective. Student rankings of beauty schools may reveal underlying themes such as problems with class size or scheduling difficulties, but a single negative review should never discourage you from a particular program. Every student has different educational needs, so a school that was a terrible fit for one student may actually be a good choice for you.
Reputation and Name Recognition of Beauty Schools
When choosing a beauty school to attend, it’s important to think about factors such as location, cost, course offerings, and the school’s success at helping graduates find jobs after graduation. Depending upon your professional goals, a school’s reputation and name recognition may also be a consideration.
Community College Beauty Schools
Many people choose to attend beauty school programs offered through their local community college. This is a convenient and affordable option, especially if you are already familiar with the college’s admissions policies. In addition, community college beauty school beauty school programs will likely accept federal financial aid. If you complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you may be able to receive a Pell Grant or a low interest student loan to help pay for the cost of your tuition and supplies.
There is no central resource for ranking community college beauty school programs, but you can get a sense of the college’s general ranking by checking The Washington Monthly and Community College Week. If a community college is highly regarded overall, it is likely to have a quality beauty school program.
Private Beauty School Programs
If you do not want to attend a community college program, there are a number of private beauty schools that are available. These programs are often considered more prestigious than programs located at a community college, but the tuition and fees can be substantially higher. Examples of highly regarded private beauty schools include Paul Mitchell Schools, the Aveda Institute, and Empire Beauty Schools.
Paul Mitchell Schools are based on the teachings of the legendary hair designer and salon professional. There are corporate schools owned by the Paul Mitchell company as well as independently owned and operated partner schools. All Paul Mitchell Schools offer general training in cosmetology, as well as education for aspiring entrepreneurs and those who hope to use their skills to get jobs working on television programs, movie sets, runway fashion, or photo shoots. The curriculum is described as a three phase CORE, ADAPTIVE, CREATIVE approach. After you learn the basic cosmetology rules, you learn how to apply this knowledge in a salon setting. Then, you finish your education by adding your personal sense of style to what you have learned.
The Aveda Institute offers training in areas such as barbering, hair cutting, massage, manicuring, cosmetology, hair design, nail technology, esthiology, and spa services as well as the opportunity to participate in study abroad programs with Aveda salons in Europe, Asia, and Australia. Aveda graduates have gone on to work in prestigious salons as well as for movies, runway shows, and fashion photo shoots. There are fifty Aveda Institute locations across the United States.
Empire Beauty Schools has been offering programs in cosmetology, nail technology, makeup artistry, and esthetics for over seventy-five years. There are over one hundred schools in twenty-one different states. Empire Beauty Schools are associated with the Regis Corporation’s school division, creating an abundance of opportunities for students to develop their skills in the industry.
Some of the schools that are part of the Empire Education Group include:
- A Cut Above in Indiana
- Martin’s College of Cosmetology in Wisconsin
- Scot Lewis Schools in Minnesota
- Arthur Angelo in Rhode Island
- Concorde Academy in New Jersey
- Artistic Beauty Colleges in Arizona and Colorado
- Blaine the Schools in Massachusetts
- Chic University of Cosmetology in Michigan
- European Academy in New Jersey
- The Hair Design School in Kentucky
- National Motion Institute in New Jersey
- Pierre’s School of Cosmetology in Maine
Making the Right Choice for Your Career
Does it make sense to pay extra for training from a ‘brand-name’ program? While many people will argue that the skills you learn in cosmetology school can be taught by any qualified instructor, there is evidence that graduating from a well known program can help open doors early in your career. When you don’t have much professional experience, having a highly recognizable cosmetology school on your rèsumè can give you an edge.