It depends. Some beauty schools may include specific programs dedicated to teaching you how to become a barber, along with other programs. Other schools are specifically barber schools that are independent, separate entities from beauty or cosmetology programs. A barber school focuses specifically on short hair and shaving services for male clientele. The main difference that sets barber schools apart is that the vast majority of their clients are male, so some courses will be tailored to services specifically for men, such as facial shaving like traditional straight razor shaves and modern safety razor shaves. Many states do not allow cosmetologists to perform these services, only barbers.
There are many schools that focus exclusively on makeup artistry training, and they specialize only in cosmetics and their application. However, there are also many cosmetology schools that offer comprehensive beauty programs that include makeup classes. To be sure you’re getting the training you want to become a professional makeup artist, make sure to ask the schools you are considering what makeup courses they offer as a part of their beauty program. Some states do not offer makeup artist licenses, or include it in a full cosmetology license – so be sure to ask about that, as well. Those who decide to attend a makeup-specific program can learn how to apply cosmetics for a variety of purposes, including but not limited to day-to-day makeup looks, portrait photography or modeling, broadcast and film, weddings, costume and theater, and more. The career options after this type of training range very widely, and some consider this to be one of the most creative of the beauty specialties.
There really is not much of a difference between beauty school and cosmetology school - they are basically synonymous. Sometimes the term “beauty school” is used to encompass any school that offers any beauty program regardless of whether it’s comprehensive or niche, whereas “cosmetology school” may refer specifically to schools that offer the full-length program that includes hair, makeup, nails and some skin care. (Basically, a cosmetology school is always a beauty school, but a beauty school is not always a cosmetology school.) You'll find that regardless of which term an institution uses to label itself, the courses and programs they offer are similar. Both types of campus may offer an assortment of beauty programs ranging from a comprehensive cosmetology curriculum, to more specific programs like nail technology, esthetics and skincare, makeup artistry, hairstyling, and so on.
Here is the easiest guide to finding and comparing beauty schools near you.
- Find beauty schools near you and contact them to request more information. An admissions representative should be in touch soon.
- Prioritize your checklist and decide which considerations are most important to you. Is it more important to you that the school teaches all the skills you want, or that the program is cheap? Is it more important to you that the school has an in-school salon or that they have a job-placement program? We recommend sorting the checklist in order from most important to least important to make your final decision.
- Prepare your list of questions to ask the admissions representatives. (Feel free to use the list of questions we prepared below!) Don't be afraid to ask until you are satisfied with the answers. You should be completely confident in the information you're getting.
- Make the final decision on which beauty school is right for you. Once you've made your choice, contact the school right away and begin the application process to hold your seat in the class. Discuss payment options and plans with the school up front.
- Get excited! You just took the first step to starting beauty school.
Everyone has different needs and tastes when it comes to selecting the school that is right for them. For some people, the cost of tuition and the availability of financial aid is highly important, whereas for others the most important thing is having flexible scheduling that allows them to hold a job or spend time with their families. Every person is different, but below are some things to consider when comparing cosmetology schools.
- Proximity to your home or job
- Programs offered
- Individual attention or teacher to student ratio
- Quality of the facility and technology
- Availability of public transportation
- Financial aid, financing options, payments accepted
- Part-time, full-time, day, night or weekend classes and your schedule
- Cost of tuition, books and cosmetology kit
- Availability of in-school salon
- Availability of job placement services
- Ties to local community, salons and beauty events
- School reputation
- Classroom atmosphere and morale
- Availability of one-on-one support or tutoring from instructors
If you are considering a career in beauty, but you’re not sure whether you’d like to be a cosmetology generalist, or a specialist and pursue a more specific field of beauty, we can help. We have compiled clear and concise information to help you learn the differences between your various beauty course options. Below is a brief overview of each of the main programs you can study in beauty school, and some of the classes you can expect to take in each, so you can choose which is right for you. If you are ready to explore your school options for one or more of the programs below, simply enter your zip code in the search box to the right.
The short answer, though, is that the best way to choose a cosmetology school is to make a complete list of questions you need answered in order to make an educated decision. Different people are looking for different things in a beauty college, but there are several things to you can do to ensure that the beauty school you choose meets your needs. Choosing the perfect beauty school is a breeze once you have a checklist of questions to ask admissions representatives.
Ask the beauty academies' admissions reps you are considering if they have access to an in-student salon to get hands-on practice, and whether they teach you to practice your beauty skills on mannequin heads or real models. Ask about financial aid such as scholarships, grants, loans and payment plans. What about scheduling - do they offer flexible class schedules, and part-time or full-time schooling? Visit a local salon or spa and speak with one of the employees or managers and ask for their recommendations. What beauty schools jump out at them as producing very hirable graduates? Don't be afraid to ask a beauty school for references from recent graduates! Read more about choosing the best cosmetology schools.
There is no difference between a beauty college, beauty academy or beauty school. Those terms are usually interchangeable. Often it has to do with how the cosmetology institution chooses to brand itself to prospective students (you!). They should offer similar classes to prepare you for your beauty career of choice. Whether they choose to call themselves schools, colleges or academies, make sure to ask them what beauty programs and courses they offer. It is important to find training and classes that fit your interests and needs, and that will set you up for the career you want.