How To Choose The Right Cosmetology or Barber College For Your Beauty Career?
A career in the beauty industry can be exciting, fulfilling, and offer an opportunity for making a good living. It will take a lot of hard work but if you have a passion for hairstyling, barbering, makeup, nails, or skincare then it can be a very rewarding career path. Here are some insights to help you get the most out of your beauty or barber college research.
Ask Yourself the “What” and “Why”
What is at the core of my desire?
Why do I believe being a cosmetologist or barber is a good career choice?
These two questions will give you some clarity to discover your purpose and intention. This is key in moving forward.
Where to Start
In the US, there are two ways to become a Licensed Cosmetologist or Barber:
- Enroll in Beauty or Barber College.
- Apprentice at a hair salon or barbershop that offers a cosmetology or barbering program that is governed by the local state board to ensure you are being educated to pass the state board exam at the end of your apprenticeship.
Attending Beauty or Barber College
State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology Licensing Requirements:
Every state requires cosmetologists and barbers to obtain professional licenses, but each state has different regulations and requirements. Before you proceed, you should check your state cosmetology and barber board’s requirements. For example, in California, a cosmetology student must complete a minimum of 1,600 hours of training to apply for a license. Pennsylvania requires students to complete a minimum of 1,250 hours of training before taking the licensing examination.
Most cosmetology or barbering programs require you to be at least 16 years of age and to have a high school diploma or GED to enroll. Some high schools allow juniors and seniors to enroll in vocational programs for cosmetology or barbering. These vocational programs are an affordable way to get your mandated state board hours toward becoming a licensed cosmetologist or barber. This option is a very good jump start to a cosmetology or barber career.
Which Beauty School to Attend
This is a huge decision. All you have to do is Google “what beauty school do I attend” to see the plethora of options in your area. Choose carefully! I recommend first researching the cost and curriculum of each school. Remember, these schools want your business, and most offer some type of financial aid if you qualify.
Go to five of the top hair salons or barbershops in your area and ask the owners what school they would recommend attending. More than likely, you will find a common recommendation among these owners for the best school to attend. This is a great first step before looking at schools.
Research the schools that were recommended. If these recommendations don’t suit you then choose three others, and continue to research until you find the right school.
Set up appointments with three schools to take a tour. Remember this is just a tour so do not sign anything at this point! You are just getting a feel for the environment, the staff, and students. Take your time, talk to the students, and see if they like the school and staff. Do not be swayed by brand names either. In many cases the brand name of a school has nothing to do with the quality of experience, teaching staff, or education you will receive.
Once you’ve done your research and cost analysis, you can now make an informed decision as to which school you want to attend.
Cost of Beauty or Barber College
Attending cosmetology or barber school can usually cost anywhere from $5,000 to $35,000 depending on the school and location.
Many schools are accredited by the American Association of Cosmetology Schools. When attending an accredited beauty school program, you can apply for government student loans or grants that may cover the entire cost of tuition. Private colleges can also provide a variety of financial programs.
If you are looking for affordability, a Junior College cosmetology or barbering program may be the best option. These programs can fill up quickly but don’t be discouraged if you are placed on a waiting list. If you really want to get into a certain program, I recommend you contact them on a regular basis to let them know you are serious. Ask if you can volunteer or attend any of the functions or events they offer. This may give you more opportunities to engage with the staff and students and possibly bump you up if you’re on the waiting list.
Cosmetology and Barbering Apprenticeship
An apprenticeship is a good way to earn income and learn on the job as you train to get your cosmetology or barber license. These programs are approved by the Division of Apprenticeship Standards (DAS) and the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology. It allows an apprentice to earn a wage while studying to become a cosmetologist or barber under the supervision of a trainer in a licensed establishment. You’ll need to make sure the salon or barbershop that you are going to complete your apprenticeship with is updated and abides by all the regulations of the State Board guidelines.
You’ll want to look at the apprenticeship curriculum information the Board offers. Check the website of your local State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology to get the details on the apprenticeship program.
Co-Founder of Salonch.com
Salonch.com is a web-based platform and mobile app that connects beauty industry professionals seeking employment with the right salon, spa, or barbershop.