How can I prepare for cosmetology school?

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Although cosmetology is a specialized program, vary rarely do you have to have cosmetology experience before being accepted into a program, but it’s always a great choice to have experience under your belt.

Take available cosmetology courses in high school

If you are in high school and interested in becoming a cosmetologist, you may be able to get a jump on your cosmetology education before you even graduate! Select cosmetology schools accept high school students on a part-time basis, allowing them to complete classes in the evening and on weekends. There are many vocational technical colleges that work with high schools as well to give students a basic education in cosmetology, preparing them for cosmetology school after high school graduation.

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There are also a number of high schools that have cosmetology programs within their course electives. You should take these programs for a number of reasons.  First, it will give you an idea on if you wish to pursue cosmetology after high school.  Secondly, the hours you spend in class will count towards the required hours for licensure.

Take Caroline Torres, a junior from San Benito High School, for example.  She enrolled in her high school’s cosmetology program because she wants to pursue hair and makeup after graduation.

“I was really excited about it.  I have a passion for doing hair and makeup.  I love it so far.  I have learned so many things.”- Caroline Torres

Gain industry experience

Another excellent opportunity is to work prior to cosmetology school in a salon as a hair washer, assistant or at the front desk, to get a better feel for the industry.   Not only does this work experience give prospective students a better glimpse into the cosmetology industry, but it’s a great way to make professional connections that can help you find employment after beauty school.

While prior experience isn’t necessary for success in cosmetology school, it can definitely help and we recommend taking advantage of any experience opportunities prior to cosmetology school!

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Great Falls (DC Metro Area)
VA
Hillcrest Heights
MD
Moosic-Wilkes Barre-Scranton
PA

How can I pay for beauty school?

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There are so many scholarships and financial aid opportunities that you should look into while applying for school. If you attend an accredited cosmetology school, you can apply for financial aid using the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). If you are considered low-income, you can get a Pell grant up to $2,700. Even if you don’t qualify for a grant, you can often get low-interest federal student loans. You don’t have to start paying these back until six months after graduation.

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Are there cosmetology scholarships available?

While loans are an option, there is no reason you shouldn’t try to get as many cosmetology scholarships as possible. There are scholarships available on a national level, including the Trade Essentials Scholarship, AHBAI  Scholarship, and the Farouk Systems Cosmetology Scholarship that are great starting points for you to look into. Additionally, there are numerous scholarship opportunities on a regional and school wide level. Many beauty schools will provide you with a list of local scholarships that you can apply for. Although there are smaller scholarship amounts, most are $1,000 or more and when you consider the overall low cost of beauty school, $1,000 scholarships add up quickly. Begin looking for cosmetology schools and their scholarship options to be ahead of the curve as soon as possible.

Will I be able to work while in cosmetology school?

Another option is to work your way through cosmetology school.  The majority of schools have classes during the daytime, although a few do offer programs during the evening or on weekends.  Cosmetology school is, on average, only about one year long and students need to work long hours to get their work done. This makes working full-time tough but not impossible.   Most students chose to work part-time work evening hours at places such as restaurants and retail stores.  In addition, once you have completed the required classroom work, you will be put on the floor to take clients under the supervision of your instructors.  Depending on your school, you may be allowed to accept tips for the services you have provided.

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Featured Cosmetology Schools

Great Falls (DC Metro Area)
VA
Hillcrest Heights
MD
Moosic-Wilkes Barre-Scranton
PA

What are the licensing requirements to be a cosmetologist?

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In order to practice cosmetology in a salon after graduation, you must first pass your state board exam to become a licensed cosmetologist.   Cosmetology is not administered by a national licensing board so all of your time should be spent preparing for your state’s exam.

Most states’ cosmetology exams will include a written exam and a practical exam.  The written exam tests the book knowledge that you’ve been taught, and is usually graded immediately.  You can study for this exam by referencing your course books, exams, and papers. We recommend taking a practice test before the exam to give you a feel for the questions you will encounter. The practical part of your exam takes much longer and will test your ability to carry out cosmetology techniques.  This includes demonstrating your abilities in hair cutting and coloring, chemical waving, manicures/pedicures and more.   To review these, practicing makes perfect so get out your mannequin head.

Ready to get on the road to receiving your cosmetology license?

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How do licenses differ between programs?

If you don’t attend a full comprehensive cosmetology program, your licensing requirements will be different. You should consult your state’s Board of Cosmetology for specific information on what all will be required per program or check out:

Will I have to renew my cosmetology license?

Since licensing is done on a state-by-state basis, renewal requirements differ in each state as well. Some states require license renewal as often as every 12 months, while some states only require renewal every 3 years. Your state board may send out reminders, but you must remember to renew your license in time, as there is often time a fee for renewing after it has expired.

How do I know if I am eligible for reciprocity?

Additionally, if you want to work in a different state than where you are licensed you must pursue reciprocity.   This doesn’t involve getting a new license; it just allows you to use your state license to work legally in another state. If the state that you’re licensed in has similar education and testing requirements as the state you would like to work, you can most likely receive reciprocity. To find out if your license is eligible for reciprocity, contact the Board of Cosmetology in the state that you want to work in. They will determine whether or not reciprocity is an option for you.

But of course, before you get licensed you will need to finish your training from an accredited cosmetology program.

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Great Falls (DC Metro Area)
VA
Hillcrest Heights
MD
Moosic-Wilkes Barre-Scranton
PA