A cosmetologist works on a model during her first cut in her cosmetology program.

Everything to Know Before Enrolling in Your First Cosmetology Program

Is being a cosmetologist the dream you’ve had in your mind for as long as you can remember? Do you wish that you could help people achieve the looks they’re chasing? Want to show them a world of beauty? Be a shoulder and a reliable resource for clients seeking your expertise? 

Sounds like you’ve got the makings of a top-notch beauty pro to us. 

The only thing standing in your way of achieving this goal? The certification. But don’t sweat it–that’s what this blog is here for.

The step-by-step process of enrolling in beauty school is actually pretty easy–the programs themselves, well, they’re not always so simple. But that’s kind of the point, right? You’re in it to learn, to be challenged, and to become the very best. 

If you’re just starting to look into cosmetology programs and aren’t sure what to expect, this blog is the perfect place to start the search. 

We’re going to dive right into everything you need to know about enrolling in beauty school before you sign up! 

What You Should Know Before Enrolling in Beauty School

The key point we really want to drive home here is that every program is different, so it’s important to know everything you can about the program before you enroll. Here are just a few of the bases you should touch before you snag a spot in the program. 

There are Different Branches of Cosmetology–Make Sure Your School Covers Your Passion

Cosmetology is a broad term that covers a huge swath of options within the beauty industry. For example, you’re a cosmetologist if you’re an esthetician, but you’re also a cosmetologist if you’re a hairstylist.

That same argument applies to every branch of the industry–from microbladers and lash stylists to nail techs and colorists. 

All that to say, if you’re planning on embracing a program, you need to make sure you’re getting more than just the sweeping basics. Do they have classes and instructions for the particular branch you’re keen to get involved in? If not, do they recommend one that does? You will have to take classes and courses that don’t deal with your specialty just so you can get certified, but some programs will have specific leanings that might benefit you better. 

It Can Be Expensive–But There are Options 

As much as we wish we could tell you that cosmetology school is free, the fact of the matter is that it isn’t. In fact, it can be relatively expensive, depending on the school or program you choose. 

The good news? There are options out there that don’t require you to pay out of pocket all at once. Of course, there are special loans you can apply for to go to cosmetology school, but there are also options like financial aid in the form of grants, work trade, and apprenticeship. 

It Can Feel like a Full-Time Job 

For most, going to school is going to feel like a full-time job–even if you’re already working another one. Every program is going to be different (see the next point for more details), but almost every program out there is going to require that you spend a certain amount of time in class, in the field, and practicing your craft. 

And we don’t mean like five hours; we’re talking a few hundred to a few thousand, depending on where you go to school. You can slow the rate you take classes and spread it out so you’re not tackling everything all at once, but no matter your approach, you will have to meet those hours. In addition to that, you’ll need to practice on your own time, study, and make sure you’re keeping up with the coursework and apprenticeship requirements. 

Every Cosmetology Program Has Different Requirements 

An important thing to know about beauty schools is that every program is different. Just because someone you know in a different state was able to complete beauty school in a flash doesn’t mean you’ll be in the same boat. 

For example, Florida state law requires 1,200 hours of education for beauty schools. Louisiana requires 1,500 hours. And even then, the particular route you want to take within cosmetology might require more hours. You’ll need to be thorough in your research, so you know what requirements to be aware of. 

You’ll Have to Pass a Few Tests to Graduate 

Just like other kinds of programs, your grades matter. Even if you put in all the hours, study like a fiend, do all the hands-on training, and check the box on every requirement, if you don’t pass your exams to be certified, you’re out of luck. The state board certification process applies to everyone, no matter their state.  

Hands-On Experience is Usually a Must 

And if you ask us, that’s a good thing. The point of beauty school is to learn how to do everything, right? Learning how to be a cosmetologist in theory–you know, without getting hands-on with the process–can only get you so far. Most programs are going to require you to dive into learning with actionable experience. If you’re looking at a program that doesn’t do this, you might want to rethink your direction–this type of training is a must if you want to become the best cosmetologist possible. 

In-School Cosmetology Liability Insurance is Still a Must 

Yep, beauty schoolers, you’re still likely going to need cosmetology liability insurance while you’re in school–even if you’re just going part-time. Because everything is hands-on in beauty school, you’ll need coverage to have your back should you need it (psst, it’s OK if you need it in beauty school, that’s what this insurance is for). 

The good news? Elite Beauty Society has special beauty school insurance offers to keep you protected while minimizing the cost–because school is time-consuming AND expensive (and we get that). 

Have more to share about cosmetology school? Have questions of your own? Whether you’ve been in the beauty industry for years or you’re just now diving into this world, we want to hear from you. Drop a comment in the reply section below to share what you know. And don’t forget–when you subscribe to EBS, you get first notice when we drop hot gossip, must-know tips, and career-boosting insight.