How To Meet the Requirements to Enroll in Cosmetology School

Woman looking at the mirror

Cosmetologists are a major part of the beauty industry, and careers within this category include hairdressers, barbers, manicurists and pedicurists, skin care specialists and shampooers. Cosmetologists typically earn about $10 to $14 an hour (going up to about $45,000 a year) and once they gain a large customer base they could more than double their earnings with tips.

If you're interested in becoming a part of the cosmetology profession, the best thing you could do is to enroll at a cosmetology school. They come with different names, such as esthetician school, beauty academy, and cosmetology institute. A full cosmetology program typically includes courses in hair styling, make-up, nail care and skin care. If you want to further specialize in a particular aspect of beauty such as hairdressing, you could choose instead to enroll at hair schools.

When choosing your school, it's very important that you find out first whether the course curriculum fulfills the cosmetology license requirements of the state you plan to work in. In Michigan, for example, you should complete 1,500 hours of cosmetology training before you are eligible for a cosmetology license; make sure that the school you will enroll in offers at least that same number of hours. Contact your state's board of cosmetology to find out further details. Also consider how many hours are spent on theoretical/lecture-type classes, and how many are to be spent on practical hands-on training.

Enrolling in an online cosmetology course might be a better option for you if you already have a full-time job, for example. These online courses would enable you to manage your time better since you could access your lessons 24/7; another advantage is that you wouldn't have to leave home to attend your classes.

That being said, what are some of the general requirements for enrolling in cosmetology schools?

  1. Academic requirements. Most states would require you to have a high school diploma or a GED certificate before you can be eligible to be accepted at a cosmetology school. However, some states only require middle school completion.
  2. Age.  Cosmetology schools generally accept applicants at least 17 years of age. As proof, you would need to submit a copy of your birth certificate or a valid driver's license.
  3. Tuition fees. Tuition fees in cosmetology schools generally depend on which state it's in. Cosmetology schools in major areas such as Chicago, Houston, New York and Boston will probably cost you about $10,000 (for a full program). Schools in rural areas, on the other hand, would generally set you back just $6,500. You may find out the different grants and financial aid options that your preferred school offers. Some common examples of financial aid options include the Federal Pell Grant, Federal Direct Loan, among others. To apply for a federal grant, first fill out a Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application to know of your eligibility for student aid. You could also opt to take up more specialized courses instead of a full esthetics program; for example, some schools offer skincare or nail care programs. These programs would cost considerably less.
  4. Creativity. Some schools require a practical test to judge your potential as a cosmetology student. Apart from this, however, an innate sense of creativity is a fundamental requirement for you to fully enjoy the craft, and to experience success in the field.

Here's to a successful cosmetology career for you! Good luck.


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