The Ultimate Guide to Getting a Cosmetology Education


As you roll through your senior year of high school or consider a career change, cosmetology may end up on your list of potential options. It’s a shorter period of education than a traditional undergraduate degree, which you may find appealing.

If you don’t enjoy the classroom experience, you take a pass on intro literature courses, philosophy, and art appreciation. Cosmetology education jumps right in with career-specific training.

For the artistically-inclined who don’t relish the life of the starving artist, cosmetology is a career field that lets you embrace your creativity while paying your bills. So, if you’re thinking you’ll dive in, keep reading for everything you need to know about cosmetology education.

Pre-Cosmetology School

Cosmetologists can provide a range of services, such as hair straightening, hair coloring, and facials. Since many of these services involve hair, skin, and chemicals, a basic understanding of biology and chemistry can make you more effective as a cosmetologist. You’ll understand why treatments work the way they do, which lets you explain it effectively

Consider taking bio and chemistry classes in high school.

Cosmetology Education

Your formal cosmetology education will happen in a cosmetology school. You’ll attend a variety of classes, such as:

  • Hairstyling
  • Hair coloring
  • Infection control
  • Skin care
  • Cosmetics
  • Business management

Each state sets its own rules for exactly how much training you need for a cosmetologist license. In general, though, programs run about nine months to one year. You’ll need around 1500 hours of hands-on training before you can take the license exam.

Paying for Your Cosmetology Education

There is some positive news for you on this front. Many cosmetology programs qualify for the student loan programs used by community colleges and universities. That means you’ll fill out the FAFSA just like any other college student.

The FAFSA will let you know which federal student loan programs and grants you qualify for. You may also qualify for state grants and some schools offer grants as well. You should discuss your financial aid options with your cosmetology school.

Cosmetology License

Many states use the exams offered by the National Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology. These exams consist of a practical skills test and a written test. States that don’t use these specific exams typically employ exams that cover similar skills and theory knowledge.

You should begin preparing for these exams well in advance. You’ll need your cosmetology license to launch your cosmetology career after you graduate.

Life After Cosmetology School

After you finish cosmetology school and get your license, don’t assume you’re done with cosmetology education. You’ll likely need a certain number of continuing education credits every time you renew your license. So, keep your eyes open for those.

If you plan on launching your own business, you should also keep your eyes on changing marketing trends. As those trends change, your customer base will go with them. You must stay on top of them or risk growing obsolete.

Interested in more potential career options? Check out the posts in our Careers section.