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How to Become a Cosmetologist

You hop out of the chair after getting a fresh haircut. You love it so much that you can’t stop looking in the mirror. Your hands subconsciously reach up to touch your new hairdo.

Nothing makes someone feel more confident than walking out of a salon after getting a trim. If you want to fill others with this sense of euphoria, it might be a good idea for you to become a cosmetologist.

Cosmetologists do more than give people a haircut. They also do nails, makeup, and other beauty treatments.

Are you ready to start your education? Check out this guide to learn how to be a cosmetologist.

What Will You Be Doing?

Cosmetologists strive to make their customers feel confident with a new look. They can color hair, braid it, and style it pretty much any way that one would want.

Their talents don’t stop with hair. They can also do nails, manicures, pedicures, makeup, and skin treatments. Some cosmetologists choose to have their own salon.

Others work under the instruction of their fellow stylists. Some keep their schedules open for special events such as weddings and proms.

You can hire yourself out to television studios or A-list celebrities. The sky is pretty much the limit when deciding where you want to work. If all this sounds great to you, let’s move on to the prerequisites.

Meet the Prerequisites

To start a booming cosmetology career, you have to be at least 16 years old and have a high school diploma. No school will be able to accept you otherwise.

Some programs will allow you to begin taking classes while you’re still in high school. If you can do that, it’s highly recommended.

It will give you a jump on your career so you can start doing what you love as soon as possible.

Choose a Cosmetology School and Enroll

Like choosing any university or higher education program, you need to do a little bit of research.

Take a tour of the campus, ask your guide questions, learn about the school’s reputation, and look into financial aid.

If you fail to do any of this, you may end up in a program that doesn’t fit you.

Choose Your Program

Again, there are several branches of cosmetology that you can dip your toes into. You could color hair or do manicures.

Whatever you decide to do, you need to make sure your school of choice has a good program that’s centered around it.

If you don’t, you may not be equipped to get the career you want once you get out of school.

Take a Tour of the Campus

When you’re looking around at different programs, you’ll probably end up narrowing down your search to a few different schools.

How do you choose when all of them seem great? The answer is going on a tour of the campus.

You can only learn so much by exploring a school’s website. You need to talk to the admissions office yourself and take in the school in person.

By doing so, you’ll learn how busy it is, what the classrooms are like, and more.

Ask the Right Questions

Taking the tour is a waste if you don’t ask questions during it. Sit down before your tour date and come up with a list of questions that you would like the answer to.

We can get you started on a few important ones to ask if you’re at a loss. First, you want to know if the school is accredited or not. If it’s not, you won’t be able to get your proper licensing after you’re done with school.

You want to get to work as soon as possible, so you may want to know how long the program is. Speaking of work, it’s important to find a job after school is done.

To this end, ask about their job placement rates.

Find out about their relationship with surrounding salons. If they’re in good standing, this will give you a foot in the door later on.

Look into Financial Aid or Scholarships

Hardly anyone can fork over the amount of money it takes for cosmetology school out of pocket. You’ll need the help of financial aid and scholarships to get that kind of cash.

Sit down with the financial aid department at your chosen schools and ask if they have any scholarships or grants available that you can apply for.

Whoever can offer you the most funding might be the one you have to go with.

Research the School’s Reputation

Stylist drying hair of a female client at the beauty hair salon

Your school’s reputation will play a big part in your job as a cosmetologist. You want to go to a facility that’s in good standing with the salons and other beauty businesses in your area.

You don’t want to go somewhere that’s known for producing subpar stylists. Some schools offer discount haircuts and other services to people in the community. If you know anyone that’s taken advantage of these services, ask them about their experience.

If they got a brilliant haircut from someone at the school, chances are several people have. These individuals may flock to your salon once they realize where you received your training.

Pick an Enrollment Date

Most cosmetology schools work a little differently than traditional universities. They have multiple start dates scattered throughout the year. You can make your start date align perfectly for the end of your high school career.

If you begin your education in July, you’ll be on the training floor before the holidays roll around. It’ll be busy during this time, so you’ll get plenty of practice in.

Choose Your Class Schedule

School’s almost in session. It’s time to choose your class schedule. If you have a busy work week, it might be best for you to find a school that offers part-time classes.

If your job will work around your education, you can spring for full-time ones. You’ll also have to choose between nighttime and daytime classes.

Finish Your Coursework

You can finish your education and get prepared to take your licensing exam in as little as 9 months. Some take around 15 months. It varies from program to program.

Since you’ll have to learn cosmetology in such a short amount of time, you can expect things to be a little fast-paced. It’s not all about cutting hair. You also have to know the basics of sanitation.

Your workstation has to stay clean. There’s a certain way to go about sweeping up the waste from manicures and haircuts. You’ll learn about the general makeup of human skin and hair.

They’ll teach you about waxing, what products can create an allergic reaction in people, how to color hair, do nails, and perform administrative work. As you can see, it’s a lot to take in.

Take Your Licensing Exam

Once you’re done with school, you’ll have to take one last test to prove that you know your stuff. Every state requires a person to get their license before they begin work.

Most of the time, this test consists of a written and hands-on section. As long as you study and do well in school, you should be able to pass with flying colors.

When you do, you’ll have to pay a fee to get a physical copy of your license. In some states, you’ll be required to take continuing education in cosmetology for this license to remain valid.

Consider Certifications

The only things required for a cosmetology career are a license and education.

You don’t have to do anything further than that unless you want to do something a little more complicated such as microdermabrasion. No one will hire you for this unless you have a certification in hand.

In terms of less complicated jobs, it will show potential employers that you’re dedicated to your work. This will only strengthen your application

Many stylists go for certification after they’ve been working for a while and find a specialty that they’re interested in.

How to Become a Cosmetologist and Be Successful

Do you love the idea of inspiring confidence in others and making them feel beautiful? You might want to become a cosmetologist. It will take a lot of hard work before you’ll be able to open your own salon.

Trust us when we say that the happy smile from your first client will make your journey worthwhile.

Once you finish school, it will be time to start looking for jobs. Check out the Careers Advice section of our blog daily to find out how to get started with your search.

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