Here’s why, for some people, cosmetology certificates can be a better fit than a traditional 4-year education:
With the average cost of a certificate typically capping out at $20,000 at for-profit institutions like beauty schools (the cost of cosmetology programs generally range from $5,000 to $25,000 depending on the school and its curriculum offerings), it is no wonder why more people are pursuing more educational certificates these days. With proper saving and planing, pursuing a vocational certificate can help a person reduce the burden enormous student loan debt upon graduation. The average four-year degree at university costs a student anywhere from $48,000 to $200,000 and leaves students with $25,250 in debt left over on average (according to The Project on Student Debt, 2010). That is not to say that cosmetology school graduates shouldn’t anticipate any student loan debt. Starting down any career path requires careful planning and diligent saving. (That means you might want to skip a few of those grande caramel macchiatos and put that dough in the piggy bank instead if you really want to pursue your dream.) One way to offset the cost of school is paying as much up-front as possible or paying month-to-month so you don’t have a large debt load when you graduate. Another path you should always pursue is the available beauty school scholarships. Some of these are offered by organizations, others are offered by the schools themselves – make sure to do your research!
In addition to lowering the price tag of your education, one of the other benefits of pursuing a certificate is that the programs are shorter. Most of the cosmetology disciplines can be completed in 15 months or less, some in as short as 6 months time! For people who want to get out into the “real world” and working as fast as possible, a cosmetology certificate might be the ideal path to freedom. With a lower price tag for a cosmetology certificate from a cosmetology school and job demand projected to grow 16% through the year 2020 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012), graduates of beauty schools may be better able to focus on your careers and providing value to clients instead of the stress of managing a huge debt load. When you take a look at the statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the figures can be misleading, according to many cosmetologists. Cosmetologists assert that their income tends to exceed the average salary presented by the U.S. Bureau of Labor & Statistics, which is on average $22,500 a year. Studies have shown that many people in service-related jobs where tipping is common fail to report all their income, including tips and freelance revenue earned outside of hourly wages. Also, cosmetology salaries can vary greatly from person to person. It’s important to note that how much you earn can depend on where you live, how long you’ve been in the business or working at a particular salon, your efforts to market yourself, your skill level and the quality of your relationships with your customers.
In addition to these benefits, people enjoy pursuing a certificate because they get the education that directly pertains to their career field. When studying cosmetology in a beauty school, there is no such thing as an irrelevant course. You will be immersed in coursework that relates directly to your profession in the cosmetology field – no irrelevant gen-ed requirements. Your educational program is a highly-focused program. People who value their time will not have to waste one second in a generic required class that has no relevance to their ultimate life goals.
If you are the type of person who enjoy a career with the ability to arrange flexible scheduling, be creative day-in and day-out, and earn a salary that can support yourself and/or your family, then a career in cosmetology may make sense for you. Many hairdressers decide to rent out their own booths after they obtain a cosmetology certificate – and with great power comes great responsibility. Renting out a booth in a salon can help a hairstylist add to his or her earning power if they work hard to market themselves and keep costs down. By renting out a booth, hairdressers can also decide to work odd hours or part-time, and they oftentimes keep a larger portion of their revenue minus rent and expenses. Many other hairstylists decide to work for an existing salon as a full-time employee rather than a booth-renter, because it requires less business savvy up-front, and this might be a better option for newer cosmetologists to the field to get more experience before breaking out on their own.
It doesn’t have to stop at cosmetology education. Most of us want to learn, grow and excel in our field. Getting into the cosmetology field quickly can be a great way to earn money, pay off cosmetology school debt, and start saving for the next educational step in your life. Perhaps you decide to go back to beauty school and get an additional license in another beauty discipline, or go on to become a cosmetology instructor. One of the joys of a career as a cosmetologist is that you may also have more flexibility to pursue a traditional two-year or four-year degree at a later point in life. So many cosmetologists decide to go on to open their own salons or barbershops, or become salon and spa managers. In this case it might be helpful to get some business, financial or management education and training to be a well-rounded business owner or manager. When you have your cosmetology certificate, you have increased earning power. You have the freedom to create your own hours and pursue other goals in your life.