Cosmetology Schools

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If you are drawn to a career in the beauty world, finding an appropriate cosmetology school is a crucial decision. As the different fields of cosmetology involve dangerous implements and solutions applied to the skin and hair of their customers, education and licensing is a serious business.

Types of Cosmetology Schools

The field of cosmetology tends to attract the younger set, with a common age range of students at 16 to 20 years old. Therefore, many states allow you to enroll in classes while still attending high school. The junior year is when most courses are available, with additional classes offered during the summers. Thus, allowing the student to finish their high school education while also working toward a degree in Cosmetology.

The different states mandate the total hours of instruction, but in general, it takes around 1600 hours before you can qualify for the state's board exam. The individual schools must certify that their students are truly ready for the licensing tests. Beauty courses are typically found in three main settings: public, private and advanced training schools.

Public Schools

If you can find a public cosmetology program nearby, this will save the most money on your education. As a high school student, you might want to explore your state's programs within the school system. Some states, like Florida for example, actually incorporate a cosmetology program within the walls of their public high schools.For an adult, it is still relatively simple to find programs within local community colleges, junior colleges or vocational centers.

Private Schools

From the inexpensive to the extreme, there are a wide range of options in private cosmetology schools. The most important consideration is your personal goals, budget and location. Before enrolling, always check to make sure the school is approved for licensing by your state.

Advanced Training

Specialty training programs or classes are also available for both current cosmetology students and licensed practitioners. In both cases, these additional hours will help to further your career. In some states, these courses are required for special licensing of certain beauty fields such as electrolysis or aestheticians. Many makeup artists desire the advanced training found at makeup schools. Although these courses can add to your cost of education, most lead to a higher income down the road.

Choosing a School

The absolute first thing on your list should be to contact the Board of Cosmetology for the state you hope to work in someday. They will provide you with the most recent list of approved schools for licensing. Selecting a state approved school is an absolutely necessity in obtaining a career in cosmetology.

Once armed with your list, the next agenda item will be to contact the types of business you hope to work for. Ask them directly where their employees went to school and what type of education they require. This should help you to narrow down your list, along with any budget and travel considerations.

Now you should have a manageable amount of schools to explore. Take the time to research each cosmetology school's programs, while also verifying their offering of courses in your areas of interest. Different schools do have variations in their curriculums. Analyze the employment rate of their graduates and the type of work they go into. It is also wise to find a cosmetology school that provides a placement service, as your ultimate goal in education is to eventually get a job.


Each state has a unique licensing system. You must pass the exam for the state in which you plan to work. Some states do reciprocate between licenses, but it is limited. Most states will ask you to take additional instruction and possibly pass their exam before they will allow you to work there. It is therefore critical to make the effort to clarify your state's requirements before even starting school. This will ensure that your time at school is fully maximized.

Once in a cosmetology program, even before you graduate, start the application process for the state board exams. The time from application to exam, to receiving your license, can take months - so don't delay or you could potentially lose valuable days on the job. There are fees to become licensed, so start setting that money aside now.

Over half of the states now use the National Cosmetology Examination which has 100 questions and takes approximately one to one and a half hours to complete. Whether or not your state uses this exam, multiple books and Internet programs are available to help you prepare for your license exam.

Once licensed, many cosmetologists choose to accept an apprenticeship before jumping into a career. This type of internship will often help you to land a better paying job through the additional skills you acquire in a hands-on training environment. Some states do allow this kind of work while you are in school, before you have obtained your license - but the guidelines are usually very strict, so be sure to check with your state's board first.

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