Beauty School FAQ
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- Q: Are there requirements to get into Beauty School?
- A: Schools tend to accept students who qualify for a cosmetology license, and license requirements vary by state. So the real question is: what are the requirements to get a license? Some states require you to have reached a certain age and/or to have a set amount of high school education, while other states have no requirements. For that information, see License Requirements. You do not have to take college entrance exams like the SAT to be admitted to cosmetology school.
- Q: When can I start?
- A: Some beauty schools operate on a system similar to semesters, which means that many students start the program at the beginning of the traditional “school year” in September, in early January or at the start of summer. However, get that information from each school as many beauty schools permit students to start at almost any time!
- Q: How long does it take to graduate?
- A: An average program for hairdressers lasts about as long as a normal school year-nine or ten months, and some last longer. You can graduate as a nail technician in as little as two or three months. The schedule revolves around each state’s requirements for hours spent in the classroom and/or in a clinical salon setting. Normally, students attend school as they would attend a full-time job-five days a week, six to eight hours a day.
- Q: How much does beauty school cost?
- A: Tuition varies widely, both by geographic location and school ownership. A typical range is $10,000 to $15,000 for students in hair stylist programs, although it can go a little higher in major metropolitan areas. Nail and esthetics programs typically cost much less.
- Q: How do people pay for it?
- A: You may be able to handle the cost through a combination of parents’ support, personal savings, working part-time and loans. Beauty school students are eligible for the same financing opportunities available to all students pursuing post-high-school education. There is more than $3 million in scholarships available, so it’s worth taking time to look into that.
Start by asking the beauty schools about financial aid; many award scholarships to promising students. Also learn about:
The beauty industry’s ACE Grants are co-sponsored by the American Association of Cosmetology Schools (AACS), the Cosmetology Advancement Foundation (CAF) and the Beauty and Barber Supply Institute (BBSI). These grants were developed in recent years to encourage qualified, motivated people to choose beauty as a career.
American Association of Cosmetology Schools (AACS) (www.beautyschools.org). In addition to providing information about ACE Grants, the AACS website lists ongoing scholarship programs offered by beauty industry product companies and associations.
U.S. Department of Education (www.ed.gov). This site is a good starting place to learn what’s available for higher education from the federal government. Federal programs include Pell Grants, which provide money that does not have to be repaid. For government assistance, you will need to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Go to www.fafsa.ed.gov for more information.
The Education Resource Institute (TERI) (www.teri.org). A non-profit organization, TERI provides privately funded loans in an effort to help all students achieve their educational goals.
Salliemae (www.salliemae.com). Students pursuing higher education have long relied on Salliemae loans.
FastWeb (www.fastweb.com). The purpose of this site is to identify all the scholarship and loan opportunities for which you qualify. You can sign up for email alerts when a new opportunity is posted.
e Student Loans (www.estudentloan.com). This search engine matches your needs with appropriate loans that are not funded by the federal government.
And more. Also check out American Association of University Women (www.aauw.org), American Specialty Health (www.ashproviders.com); Howard Hughes Medical Institute (www.hhmi.org); Jeanette Rankin Foundation (www.rankinfoundation.org); National Endowment for the Humanities (www.neh.gov); National Institutes of Health (www.ugsp.nih.gov/home.asp?m=00); Harry Truman Scholarship Foundation (www.truman.gov); Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation (www.woodrow.org); Zonta International Foundation (www.zonta.org); MANA, A National Latina Organization (www.hermana.org); National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women, 1806 New Hampshire Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20009; and U.S. Information Agency Fulbright Program (www.iie.org/fulbright).
- Q: What is an “accredited” school?
- A: Typically, this refers to schools that have met standards set by The National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences (NACCAS). While schools can be accredited by groups that cast a wider net than just within the cosmetology industry, NACCAS is the predominant accrediting group in the beauty industry.
Headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, NACCAS accredits about 1,100 schools-more than half of the total number of schools. Accredited schools serve more than 100,000 students. In recent years NACCAS has decided to accredit only private schools. Public schools that offer cosmetology programs, such as community colleges, no longer fall under the NACCAS umbrella. Yet many of these non-accredited schools hold to their own high standards.
The NACCAS accreditation decision rests on a profile the owners present on their school and an extensive onsite visit by expert NACCAS representatives to verify the accuracy of the school’s self-assessment. Each school is evaluated individually by the NACCAS board, which considers the school’s safety and newness of the equipment and facilities, the instructors’ level of experience, the graduation rate, the rate of placing graduates in jobs and other factors. Schools receiving accreditation are reevaluated approximately every five years.
NACCAS is recognized by the US. Department of Education. This recognition permits NACCAS-accredited schools to offer federal funding opportunities – Pell Grants, for example – to their students.
- Q: What is the curriculum?
- A: Typically, coursework includes both classroom instruction and “clinical” work that takes you into a real salon setting to do mannequin heads and actual clients who get hair services at the school for very reasonable prices. Your courses will be appropriate to your field of study; hair students have a different curriculum from skin care or nail students. Many schools also offer classes in fashion, sales, business and life skills.
A major goal of the curriculum is to prepare students to pass their state licensing exam. Therefore, all the basics must be covered. For example, hair students will master the fundamentals of cutting, setting, coloring, perming, blow-drying and styling hair. Complex techniques more often are learned on the job or in an advanced program.
For more specific information on curriculum, see “Become A…” Hairdresser, Make-up Artist, Nail Technician, Facialist/Skin Care Professional or Massage Therapist.
- Q: Do beauty schools place graduates in jobs?
- A: Most beauty schools place a high priority on job placement. They staff job placement offices, hold career fairs, establish ties with local salons and help students to find salons where they can apprentice while they’re still in school. NACCAS-accredited schools must maintain a high placement rate to keep their accreditation.
- Q: How do I choose a beauty school?
- A: The same way you would choose any institution of higher learning: make sure it’s a good fit for you. That means you should not only learn about the different schools, but also review the facts about yourself! What type of environment makes you comfortable? What matters to you? One person’s top priority may be “whatever” to the next person.
When shopping for a beauty school, also called a cosmetology school, first figure out the basics. Would you prefer:
To stay local, or should you check out other areas of your state or somewhere else in the country or even Canada that interests you?
An urban school with public transportation nearby or a suburban or more rural neighborhood that may require driving?
A big school or a small, intimate one?
A school that’s part of a big chain, a school that’s one of several owned by the same people or one that’s a single location?
Like all schools, beauty schools vary in lots of ways. As you learn more about each school, how important is it to you for the school to:
Offer a lot of different programs (not just hair, for example, but skin care and nails, too)?
Offer “lifestyle” classes to help you in areas such as time and money management?
Provide business classes on topics like client psychology and sales strategies?
Offer training to become a cosmetology instructor?
Be accredited (see explanation in next FAQ)?
Include a night program for people who work during the day?
Be priced lower than its competitors?
Have a national reputation even if that means it’s pricier?
Employ a faculty with extensive experience?
Have state-of-the-art equipment and tools?
Focus heavily on job placement?
Be involved with student cosmetology competitions?
Be connected with any particular product line?
Offer advanced courses that you can take after you graduate
(states require you to take a certain number of continuing education credits to maintain your license)?
Offer the advanced courses at no charge to graduates?
Invite salon owners to come and talk to the students?
Arrange for students to visit salons?
Be connected to a particular salon or chain of salons?
Have a long history of being in business?
Look over the wide selection of schools right here at beautyschooladvisor.com, and request more information directly from the schools. Then narrow the field and visit the ones that really interest you. During your visit, ask a lot of questions. Visit the clinical salon set-up as well as the classrooms. Look at the students and how you’ll fit in with them. Don’t be afraid to start up a conversation in the elevator or hallway. Students tend to love their schools, but they’ll also be honest about any drawbacks. And, again, what’s a drawback to that student may be a plus to you
- Q: If I’ve been working in another field for a while, will I be the only older student at beauty school?
- A: Definitely not! Cosmetology is an increasingly popular choice among “second career” people seeking a personal satisfaction that seems to be absent in their first career. Many beauty schools offer an evening schedule of classes to accommodate people who work full-time during the day.
“Recently, one school owner told us that since 9/11 they’ve seen a spike in enrollment in older students,” says Jim Cox, executive director of the American Association of Cosmetology Schools (AACS). “The lesson of 9/11 was that life is short, and you’d better do what you really want to do.” Read more about this at Choose Beauty as a Career Switch.