Cosmetology School Education & Age Requirements

Trying to figure out if you're eligible to enroll in beauty school? We break it all down and make it super simple below. We discuss the education requirements you need to meet, the age limits, the possibility of getting a head start on your cosmetology studies while you're still in high school, and more. 

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Do I need a high school diploma or GED to attend cosmetology school?

High School GraduateWhether you need a high school diploma or GED to attend beauty school depends on the state in which you wish to attend school. The education level required varies from state to state. Some states, like Illinois, do not require a high school diploma, but you may have to take an additional test to be admitted to the schools if you haven't graduated or gotten your GED yet. Other states such as Montana require students to either have a high school diploma or GED to apply and be admitted to cosmetology schools. In general, though, it is safe to assume that either your home state or the schools you're considering will require a high school diploma or GED to enroll in beauty school.

We often get asked if you can go to beauty school with a GED, and in almost every state and almost every school, a GED is perfectly fine. GED stands for “General Educational Development,” and once you pass the five subject tests, you can get your high school equivalency credential, which certifies that you have attained a high school education.

If you meet these criteria and you’re ready to start comparing schools, click the button below to get a list of beauty schools near you.

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How old do I have to be to enroll in cosmetology school?

Most schools require you to be at least 16 years of age and have a high school diploma or GED. Even if your cosmetology school of choice doesn't have an age requirement, it's possible that your state cosmetology board does. When in doubt, it's always best to ask your home state's board of cosmetology what their minimum age requirements are.

If you're wondering if you're too old for beauty school - the answer is NOPE! It is never too late to pursue the career you really want. We have found that many people discover that a cosmetology career is their passion later in life, often after trying other careers that weren’t the right fit. Some people also raise a family before deciding to go to beauty school. There are many reasons that you may not start beauty school right of high school, but whatever the reason, schools will be happy to have you on their rosters. Don’t let your age hold you back from having a career you really care about.

Can I attend cosmetology classes if I'm still in high school?

Some progressive beauty schools may have special programs at their facility that allow high school students to take select classes and get a feel for the world of cosmetology, but typically dual enrollment in high school and cosmetology school is rare. However, there are vocational technology schools in many communities that allow students to get a head start on their beauty careers by letting students study cosmetology in high school or a vo-tech school. This is a great article on Getting a Head Start on Cosmetology in High School for more information. These high school cosmetology classes can be great preparation for getting your full cosmetology education at a beauty school.

Some high school students also choose to start their own Cosmetology Club at their high schools to get a head start. Sometimes club members read and discuss articles about education, licensing and careers in the beauty business, and other times they try to practice the skills taught in YouTube beauty tutorials. Starting your own cosmetology club can be a great resume booster and look good on your application to beauty school.

When you are a junior or senior in high school is the best time to start researching, comparing and contacting beauty schools near you. If you are approaching your high school graduation, it’s time to start thinking about next steps. Click the button below to find schools near you and start figuring out which school is right for you.

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What records or documents should I bring with me to apply for beauty school?

Schools typically require you to produce a driver’s license or other state-issued identification and your high school diploma or GED. If you cannot produce your diploma or GED, you may be asked to show high school transcripts. Some schools ask for social security number, but that is typically on the financial aid forms you can fill out to apply for tuition assistance. The FAFSA links directly to the IRS nowadays, so you shouldn’t even need to bring your (or your parents’) tax records in to the school apply for financial aid – just your ID. If you are not yet 18 years of age, you may need parental consent. Some schools ask for letters of recommendation along with your beauty school application. If you are transferring your hours from one beauty school to another, you will need to provide a transcript with proof of hours from your previous school. Depending on your state board of cosmetology’s regulations, you may need your prior school’s bills paid in full in order for them to release the hours. On some beauty school applications, we have heard of video essays, written essays, short answer questions, and aptitude tests being part of the application process, but this is on a school by school basis, not an industry standard.

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