cosmetology school

Cosmetology School

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Become a Cosmetologist

Cosmetology programs are popular for many reasons; and these FAQ’s will reveal many of them. If you are weighing your beauty school options, you should learn what cosmetology entails, and how to choose the right program. These questions will address those subjects, and tell you how long you might train. We’ll cover what requirements many beauty schools have. Of course, the cost of cosmetology school is on every students’ mind. Not to fear. You can get more information right here.

If you are considering a career in cosmetology, but have some questions before you take the next step, this page aims to give you the short and sweet answer to all your burning questions about jumping into the beauty industry. This is a great place to start to get all the cosmetology information you need to choose a school and start your education, then launch your career in the beauty business. This is a general overview to start your journey of learning all about cosmetology, and we will link you to more specific resources for each of these topics.

Career Outlook
Info based on National Averages. Enter zip and program for more exact details.
Hours-required: 1600 Education and hands-on training
Licence Renewal Hours: 1000 Hands-on training
Certification Needed: Cosmetology
State Board Contact:E: P: 1.800.952.5210
Average Salary: $28,770 Annually
Job Outlook: 20% increase Between 2012 - 2022
What do you love most about beauty school?
The connections. All of the girls are so close, they are great. The teachers are awesome and have so many connections and will help you get your career started.
How do you like beauty school?
I love it, it’s a lot of fun! It makes it easier when it’s something you are passionate about. It’s so fun to go to school and always trying new things. They give you plenty time to do you homework at school too!
Can you describe a typical day?

Arrive at 8am and prep for appointments starting at 8:45.

You could have 4-5 appointments in one day doing facials, makeup, skin treatments, waxing, brows, lash tinting. My favorite part is if you don’t have appointments you can do treatments on each other! We give each other facials, makeup and the nail girls do our nails, etc! It’s so fun and we are never bored!

What’s it like juggling work and school?

I work two jobs. It can be busy but I map out the week and it keeps me out of trouble.

What would you tell someone thinking about enrolling?

Just do it! I was pretty nervous at first. I doubted myself b/c I have never been in a program I felt I could succeed. The support and encouragement of the other ladies in the class and seeing how intelligent the teachers were eased my worries. It’s a fun experience! There weren’t “know it all’s” in the class. Everyone is eager to learn and help each other.

Do you feel confident getting a job after school?

Yes! I feel confident and qualified. The teachers are great and positive. They want to set up you for success.

What inspires you?

Instagram. I could scroll all day long. I love art, makeup, clothes, house decor. I love going to Sephora and seeing all the makeup and think about the possible ways to do different things.

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Compare The Best Cosmetology School & Career Options For You

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Are you thinking about a career in the world of cosmetology, but don’t know where to begin? You’re in luck!

We have TONS of great information and articles that can help you understand what it takes to choose the right cosmetology school. We also have fun facts and beauty tips that can help you understand your career options, salary expectations, and job outlook for your up and coming beauty career.

As you compare programs and cosmetology career requirements, you might even learn something unexpected.

For instance, you might dream of becoming a makeup artist. But you soon realize your State Board of Cosmetology does not award a makeup license.

So what do you do now?

You will likely need to compare cosmetology and esthetician programs to meet your license requirements. This will open up a whole new set of questions and comparisons -- but don’t worry!

We’ve got you covered, and we are here for you every step of the way.

“I’m ready to find a beauty college near me!”

We know, it’s exciting to think about expanding your career and working in the creative world of beauty. Can you already imagine how awesome it would be to work at a salon, spa, or even manage your own?

Finding the best cosmetology school in your area is just the beginning. Throughout your career, you’ll need to seek the mentorship of experienced professionals. That’s where we’ve got you covered from start to finish! You can also be sure to stay up on continuing education opportunities and the latest tips and beauty trends by coming back to our site again and again!

Use our search boxes to find your cosmetology school options!


How Can Cosmetology School Programs Impact Your Beauty Career?

The type of beauty school program you choose is the first major decision that will impact your future career opportunities. For example, you might want to start working as quickly as possible, and have no interest in salon management.

If this is you, then consider a certificate or diploma program. They can be completed in a shorter amount of time; typically around 10-12 months. Plus, you can start working in most cosmetologist jobs after completing an approved program, meeting your training hours, and earning the license requirements in your state.

However, if you have an option for an Associate's (AAS) in cosmetology, why not consider it? This could be your best cosmetology school option if you are interested in acquiring management positions or want to keep your career options open.

What if your salon takes off and you decide to expand your brand into another location? You could continue your education by taking business classes and eventually earn your Bachelor's.

The fact is, when you educate yourself and train diligently, your cosmetology career options can seem endless.

Taking the most efficient path towards a beauty career…

When you enter a certificate or diploma program in the beauty field, you will just focus on your core courses. These shorter programs are tightly geared towards helping you learn hair, skin, make-up and nail skills – and start working ASAP.

Program length will vary by school-which is why it's important to look into several options. Some cosmetology training programs may be accelerated, with less than 12 months of training.

As a rule of thumb, you can expect to need around 45 course credits. Your State Board of Cosmetology license requirements will really determine the course curriculum and number of training hours you must complete. When you speak with schools, it’s very important to go over your list of concerns and goals. Especially if they offer both diploma and Associate's in cosmetology programs. Ask if you can complete the diploma or certificate option first, and move into the associate’s when you’re ready.

Check out Associate’s degree in cosmetology to start your career…

Earning your Associate’s degree in cosmetology can be a good move if you want to expand your education options. An Associate of Cosmetology will typically include your core courses, plus electives.

This means, you may be taking math, humanities, communications, social science, and other types of courses outside of beauty. But, it could also mean that you take additional business and management courses.

As a result, you may better position yourself for salon ownership or another type of career down the road. You never know where life is going to lead, so it can’t hurt to look at all your options.

Cosmetology curriculum that translates to career success…

No matter which type of cosmetology school program you choose, your courses will focus on hair, skin, makeup, and nails. Of course, this could vary, depending on the school and type of cosmetology program you choose.

Your hair design courses will help you learn the latest cutting and styling trends. But they should also teach you the foundational skills that never go out of style. You should learn the latest coloring techniques, and have knowledge about salon products. Part of being a cosmetologist entails understanding the retail aspect, and additional salon revenue streams. Spas and salons expect their stylists to know all about the products they sell. This way, you can help increase revenue outside of your hands-on services.

Cosmetology programs should also train you to apply makeup for most occasions. If you want to be a theatrical makeup artist or work in special effects for film or television, you should seek additional training.

Learning esthetician and nail work can come in really handy as well. If you want to work in a spa or salon that offers facials, manicures and pedicures, this experience can boost your resume.

If your State Board of Cosmetology has an option for hair design or cosmetology licensure, it’s something to think about. On one hand, you can just focus on hair and most likely have fewer requirements for licensure. On the other hand, you may want to learn skin, nail and makeup skills to qualify for work at your dream salon.

Plus, if you do have a goal to manage a salon, you should understand the full scope of salon work. You will be more knowledgeable and competent when you manage other professionals who deliver those services. This is where choosing an Associate of Cosmetology may be the best route to the career you want.

Other Ways The Best Cosmetology Schools Can Impact Your Future

Your cosmetology school training will also have an effect of your current career while you train. Fortunately, most programs are designed with working professionals in mind.

Some have night or weekend options for students with 9-5/Mon-Fri work schedules. We are even seeing some beauty schools integrate online courses into their curriculum. This can be effective for some courses. However, you will need to have plenty of experiential learning and training guided by experienced professionals.

No matter how advanced online learning becomes, in-person training is the best way to develop stellar beauty skills.

Financial aid & career preparation resources

You can’t really answer the question ‘what’s the best beauty college near me’ without looking into financial aid and career resources. After you start working as a cosmetologist, your student loans will need to be repaid. This is a part of just about every student’s reality.

So when you compare your cosmetology school optoins, be sure to ask if they are qualified for federal financial aid or offer private loan options. Some schools may even offer scholarships or grants to students who can prove financial need.

We also offer a beauty school scholarship to help you get started!

Ready To Compare Beauty School Options Near You?

The question “Where to go to cosmetology school?” can be answered sooner than you may think.

Just choose your state and the type of cosmetology school program that inspires you from our search. Request information from the schools in your area today!

Before you know, you could be on your way to a beautiful career!

About Cosmetology School

Cosmetology School Information

Before becoming a professional hairstylist or other beauty pro, it is imperative that you attend cosmetology school to get the proper training required to get licensed. All 50 states plus Washington D.C. require you to meet a minimum number of training hours at a cosmetology school in order to take the licensing exam and get your license. So step one in that process is figuring out which license you need to practice your profession of choice, and finding the right cosmetology school for you to get the required training hours.

When choosing a school, there is certain information about cosmetology schools you should gather in order to make an educated decision. Here are just a few questions of the questions we recommend that you ask each school you contact before making a decision:

  • Do you offer a comprehensive cosmetology program?
  • Do you offer full-time or part-time cosmetology classes?
  • How long does it take to complete the cosmetology program?
  • Check out our How to Choose a Beauty School guide for a complete list of questions to ask cosmetology admissions representatives.

Collecting all the cosmetology school information you can up front will help you make an educated decision about which school is right for you. It may seem overwhelming at first, but ask all the questions you need to of the admissions people so that you feel confident and comfortable choosing the right school for you, and be sure you understand what is required of you to get your license of choice.

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What is cosmetology?

Cosmetology is a field in the beauty industry that encompasses a wide range of hair, skin, and cosmetic services. Traditionally, cosmetologists are thought of as hair stylists, makeup artists or nail technicians. However, the growing areas of laser hair removal and permanent makeup are part of cosmetology too. Earning a cosmetologist’s license will generally qualify you for the foundational skills. To work in electrolysis or certain types of makeup artistry, for instance, you will need to take that specific type of training program.  

In the hair-focused courses, cosmetology students learn the basics and advanced styling techniques. You should seek programs that will help you understand the latest trends, coloring, and other services clients ask for. Men’s cuts will also come into play, since many cosmetologists serve male clients as well.

Makeup classes typically teach you how to apply bridal, special event, and other common techniques. You might learn some basic theatrical or special effects makeup. Most cosmetology makeup curriculum will prep you for salon and spa work. But you will also be able to pursue work in film and television, if that’s your thing. Why not prep news anchors, or actors, or all kinds of clients, in your makeup career?

Most likely, you have been in a nail salon, where manicures, pedicures, and other nail services are offered. While you can find standalone nail tech programs, cosmetology programs include these courses too. These are the core areas that make up the field of cosmetology.

What Does A Cosmetologist Do?

Beauty professionals earn their cosmetology license for a variety of reasons. Some want to offer several services like hairstyling, skincare, nail treatments and makeup. Others want to work in one specific area, but have to complete a cosmetology program to fulfill state requirements.

Here are the main types of cosmetology & beauty programs:

  • Cosmetology (hair, skin, nails, makeup)
  • Barbering
  • Makeup
  • Hair design
  • Nail technician
  • Permanent makeup
  • Hair braiding

Some beauty schools offer additional programs in related areas, such as:

  • Massage therapy
  • Laser training
  • Salon management
  • Teacher training
  • Fashion design
  • And more!


Cosmetologists perform several services throughout their day, depending on their role. If your focus is hairstyling and cutting, you may juggle clients that require the latest coloring, cuts and styles, as well as curling, weaves, extensions, or other hair services. Try to find a beauty program that includes the benefit of career advisors and real-world training hours. Here is an example from Bloomington, Minnesota, of a school where employers who need workers with stellar skills often approach graduates.

Just think what an advantage it would be to have experienced professionals with connections to local employers on your side.

Do I Need Esthetician Training?

For some cosmetology careers, your state may give you the option of esthetician or cosmetology licensing. If you have this option, and want to compare programs, here is the skinny…

Esthetician Training Basics:

  • Focus on facial skincare
  • Makeup artistry usually included in the curriculum
  • Integrates the art and the science behind facial skincare
  • Specialized skills, such as wraps and extractions included
  • Usually requires fewer hours of training than cosmetology programs
  • Could be a preferred option for students wanting makeup artist careers

Thinking about cosmetology school?

If you are considering a career in cosmetology, but have some questions before you take the next step, this page aims to give you the short and sweet answer to all your burning questions about jumping into the beauty industry. This is a great place to start to get all the cosmetology information you need to choose a school and start your education, then launch your career in the beauty business. This is a general overview to start your journey of learning all about cosmetology, and we will link you to more specific resources for each of these topics.

How should I find, compare, and contact cosmetology schools?

There are many things you need to consider when choosing the best beauty school program for you. After you review the quick items listed below, take a peek at our more complete “How to Choose a Beauty School” checklist. When you are ready to contact schools about their programs, keep the following questions and considerations in mind:

  • Which kind of cosmetology program meets your state’s license requirements for your preferred career?
  • Is the program approved by your state’s Board of Cosmetology?
  • Do the financial aid options meet your needs?
  • Does the class schedule fit your current personal and work schedule?
  • Is the curriculum aligned with your desired profession?

In addition to these considerations, we recommend speaking with 3-4 cosmetology schools to make sure you choose the right one.

Are you just starting to consider cosmetology career options? If so, let’s start with some basic information that you might want to know before contacting beauty schools…

Is there a difference between beauty schools and cosmetology schools?

The terms "beauty school" and "cosmetology school" are often used in the same context and essentially mean the same thing regarding cosmetology education. It's similar to the way some institutions are called "cosmetology schools", while others may be referred to as "cosmetology colleges" or "cosmetology academies."

Cosmetology School Courses & Course Length

What Do You Learn In Cosmetology School?

The American Heritage dictionary defines cosmetology as “the study or art of cosmetics and their use." When beauty schools say they offer full cosmetology programs it generally refers to the study of hair styling, skin care, nail care, and makeup in one comprehensive program.

Cosmetology students learn how to choose and apply these services for clients through a variety of learning styles, including:

  • In-class lectures
  • Textbooks
  • Hands-on training in student salons
  • Online tools for knowledge-based courses

The official cosmetology curriculum varies from state to state, but a beauty school student should graduate with a thorough knowledge of all aspects of the beauty industry. Most students are also permitted to specialize in a specific area or service.

If you are looking at the broad cosmetology school option, you may find some additional information by looking at the questions below. Or…if you are still wanting to know about your options, keep reading.

How long is cosmetologist training?

State beauty license requirements vary by state, so the length of the training program may also vary slightly by state. On average, it takes students 9 to 15 months to graduate from a cosmetology program. Many schools offer flexible scheduling that allows you to take night or weekend classes to accommodate work and family life, so part-time students may take longer to graduate than full-time students would. Click here for more information about the length of cosmetology school.

Our 2012 survey of all the licensing boards across the U.S. shows that most states require 1600 training hours on average to get licensed, but some states require as few as 1000 hours and other require as many as 2300 training hours. Take a look at our state cosmetology license requirements page to find out 2015 licensing information. We recommend you contact the licensing department in your state to check for changes to requirements or curriculum.

General Licensing Requirements for the Beauty Industry

Cosmetology School Requirements

What are the requirements to enroll in cosmetology school?

Most beauty and cosmetology schools require a high school diploma or a GED equivalent to enroll, but check with the state in which you plan to enroll to be sure, and always contact the school directly to find out their unique regulations. The minimum age required to enroll in school varies from state to state.

Age Requirements for Cosmetology School Video

High School Diploma or GED for Cosmetology School Video

What are some challenges for people pursuing cosmetology careers?

The ability to adapt your new found skills to different people. Every person will present a unique challenge to the cosmetologist as each individual will have a different combination of hair type, face type, nail type, etc. This is one of the greatest challenges in cosmetology careers. For instance, the kind of blush work a makeup artist performs will depend on the shape of the client's face: a round face will require a fair amount of contouring while someone with well-defined cheekbones will only need to highlight this feature.

Cost of Cosmetology School

How much do cosmetologist training programs cost?

Cosmetology school tuition costs vary depending on the types of courses, hours of instruction needed, location of the school, as well as their facilities and equipment. The cost of cosmetology school can also be affected by what's included in the price of tuition, like books, supplies, cosmetology kits or smocks or aprons. Our 2012 survey of 55 cosmetology schools says that the cost of cosmetology averages between $10,000 and $20,000. Be sure to speak to the admissions representatives at the schools you're considering to get the official information from each campus. Click here for more information about the cost of cosmetology tuition.

Cost of Cosmetology School Video

Online Cosmetology Programs

What’s up with online cosmetology school courses and program? Do they exist? Are they worth it? And what are the obstacles to going this route? Believe it or not, there are some online options for beauty school training. With e-Learning technology becoming more sophisticated every year, it’s only a matter of time before online options open up for beauty students. While we are still in a very gray in-between area, take a few minutes to review these FAQ’s about online beauty programs. We’ll let you know whether you can attend cosmetology school without going to campus.

Obstacles to online beauty school programs

There are several challenges beauty schools face when integrating e-learning cosmetology courses to their program options. These obstacles can include:

  • State Cosmetology Board approval
  • Investing in the online learning infrastructure that offers the same quality of a traditional classroom experience
  • Convincing potential students that these options will result in the careers they want

We at Beauty Schools Directory believe that online cosmetology school options will make up a larger part of the beauty education curriculum as technology advances. But for now, we believe there will always be an essential in-person component of beauty school training.

Of course, with advances in computer simulations and communication tools, it would be foolish to rule out any prediction for what the future could bring. Who knows, you may find a virtual beauty school classroom in the future…where simulation labs replace actual clients. In fact--

The Tide for Online Beauty School Training is Already Turning…

In fact, NACCAS (one of the accrediting bodies for cosmetology schools) bylaws allows up to 50% of accredited programs to deliver their beauty school curricula in an online format. This proves that State Boards, school owners, and legislators are already planning and implementing these advances in online beauty education.

And why not? With so many medical and healthcare degrees offering distance learning courses in subjects, such as anatomy, chemistry, and other knowledge-based subjects, why shouldn’t the cosmetology specialties do the same? After all, many beauty students are juggling busy lives and other jobs.

3 ways states approach online beauty school training

In general, states approach regulation of online beauty school and cosmetology courses in three different ways:

  • Allow virtual beauty schools. These states actively approved that online learning is okay for cosmetology students.
  • Prohibit online beauty programs. Many states agree with the idea that cosmetology programs should be taught in person by licensed professionals, and include mandatory training hours.
  • Do not prohibit or regulate. In other words, these states allow online and campus programs, and leave it to the schools to format their own curriculum

The thing you need to know about each of these options, is that if you get your distance learning cosmetology degree, you are most likely not going to be able to get licensed in your state. Plain and simple.

Can I attend beauty school all online?

No, not currently. As of 2015, all states currently require the majority or all beauty training hours to occur in the classroom, not online. Because there are many skills that require hands-on practice and repeat practical training in order to pass the practical portion of the board exams, much of cosmetology school must still occur on campus. More schools these days are moving toward offering portions of their training online, particularly theory and book work portions that don't require hands-on work.

"Right now it runs the gamut as far as what is allowed and what's not," Milady Directory of Marketing & Training Gerard McAvey said. "If we look across all 50 states and DC, there is a handful of states that technically have and passed legislation to allow pre-licensure education online. There are three buckets: states that actually have legislation passed to allow online training, states that prohibit online learning and only allow for brick-and-mortar learning, and the states that technically do not prohibit online learning, and therefore schools can partake if they choose."

There are several obstacles schools are facing as they try to introduce online learning and more technology into the classroom, such as getting their state boards to allow it, and purchasing and setting up the tools and resources students will need. We at Beauty Schools Directory believe that some day, online cosmetology school will make up a larger part of the beauty education curriculum as more and more students try to pursue their education from home while also juggling full-time work or family commitments. In fact, NACCAS (one of the accrediting bodies for cosmetology schools) bylaws allows up to 50% of accredited programs to deliver their beauty school curricula in an online format. But we also believe that coming to campus for hands-on lessons will still be a part of cosmetology school indefinitely, because it is such a hands-on line of work. Until then, full online beauty school programs and full online cosmetology school programs are not available.

Can I attend online beauty school without going to campus?

The answer to that question is kind of tricky. It’s one of those yes-and-no questions that requires a bit of explanation. The following information is meant to help you understand why online education might not be the best option for cosmetology training.

We’ll also take a look at situations when distance learning courses do align with online beauty school training. From there, you can take a look at what kinds of technology are already making an impact in cosmetology programs.

Why should you rely on Beauty Schools Directory as your source for online cosmetology information?

  • We have one of the most comprehensive lists of top beauty schools on the web.
  • You can easily contact all your options for cosmetology training from one place.
  • You can apply for our scholarship, which can help cover your costs for tuition and fees.
  • We have a world of resources about every kind of cosmetology program, and several related areas, such as massage therapy, salon management and more!

If you are ready to view your options for online cosmetology schools and campus based programs, enter your zip code, or choose your state and preferred program to start.

Short answer: There aren’t currently any 100% online beauty school programs that qualify you for state licensure.

As of 2017, all states currently require the majority or all of your beauty-training hours to occur in the classroom, not online. Why?

Here are the main reasons students need to complete a large portion of their cosmetology training in-person, under the guidance of experienced professionals:

  • Most cosmetology skills are hands-on – requiring in-person coaching and training.
  • Cosmetologists work face-to-face with their customers; training in real environments helps develop interpersonal skills.
  • The mentorship of experienced professionals cannot be completely replicated online when it comes to beauty training.