Going to Cosmetology School

A cosmetology education is designed to enhance creativity, teach technical applications and customer service skills. A variety of programs are usually available to meet the needs of the students, such as full and part-time options. For those not cut out for the two to four years (or more) of education required to obtain a degree at a liberal arts college or technical school, cosmetology training is usually completed in a year or two through a degree, diploma, and certificate program, and can also be acquired through an apprenticeship with an experienced cosmetologist.

Markup Artist working on Client Photo

How long it takes a student to complete cosmetology school or beauty school really depends on the program the student chooses. Normally, a full cosmetology program will take between 1400 and 2100 hours to complete, but the actual number of required hours depends on the state. An esthetics program at a cosmetology or beauty school may take an average of 300 hours, a nail technology program may require between 600 to 700 hours, and an electrolysis program may require approximately 500 hours. A full-time student at a cosmetology school or beauty school should be able to complete a full cosmetology program in two years or less.

Cosmetology training is by nature very “hands-on,” with much less time spent in a classroom listening to a lecture and taking notes than what is required in other sources of secondary education, such as the instruction provided at liberal arts colleges and universities. The curriculum is extremely focused upon the skills and training necessary to become a successful cosmetologist, i.e. there are no algebra or English literature classes, although cosmetologists do study basic chemistry, human anatomy, and also business and accounting, since many of them go on to open their own salons or become independent contractors.

Cosmetology students usually start their education in the classroom, where they are taught the theory portion of the course. It is usually several months before they begin working “on the floor” performing services on clients, although they often practice by cutting and coloring each other’s hair while in the first three months of school, which is commonly referred to as the “basics” part of their training. The first several months give a general overview and foundation by introducing artistic and visual concepts which nurture the creativity of cosmetology students and also help to develop interpersonal and sales skills.

The haircutting section covers international principles of haircutting often presented in a step-by-step or “architectural” format. Instructors demonstrate the components of haircutting, progressing from simple to complex skills. Students are taught to implement the principles of form, balance, movement, and other techniques.

The hair coloring section incorporates the art, balance, depth, and tone of hair coloring. Students learn fundamental color laws, the color wheel, application techniques, and formulation science with an emphasis on visual learning and inspiration.

The nails segment covers the fundamentals of manicures and pedicures, including the biological construction of the nails, hands and feet as well as sanitation and disinfection procedures critical to avoid spreading infection in the salon. Basic manicuring, nail shapes, acrylic, gel, and fabric nail techniques are presented, in addition to complex two and three dimensional techniques in nail artistry.

The customer service section is one of the most important parts of cosmetology training. Cosmetology students learn relationship-building techniques to help them succeed in the business aspect of the salon industry. Remember, clients are more likely to be repeat customers of a stylist because they like her, regardless of what her skill level is.

Most cosmetology schools also include a component which helps students prepare for various license examinations, most specifically the state board examination. This section also serves as an important aid in the understanding of all subjects taught in cosmetology school and the skills required in the practice of cosmetology.

Potential cosmetologists can enroll in a state-licensed vocational school or college that offers a cosmetology degree. There are about 1,300 cosmetology programs which are accredited through the National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences, naccas.org, according to https://educhoices.org. Enrollment requirements for individual programs vary by state and school, and some programs will accept students as young as age 16, while others require applicants to have a high school diploma or GED. SAT and ACT scores are not usually considered.

Many cosmetology programs are flexible, and give students the option to attend class in-person, online or a combination of the two. Some programs may offer additional coursework in marketing, business and management, and some cosmetology programs allow students to fulfill 10% of their curriculum hours through internships at local salons. Completion of an Associate’s degree program qualifies students for the license examination in their state. After graduating from a Cosmetology degree program and passing the state licensure exam, new cosmetologists are qualified to work as salon employees, managers or owners.

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