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Choose The Right School
Attending a cosmetology school is a big step. You don't want to walk through the doors on your first day of school only to find out that you made a mistake. After all, it's your money and your future—shouldn't you get the best quality?
There are several things to consider before you decide on your cosmetology school. Let's take a look.
It's all about you...
First of all, think about what you truly want to pursue in Cosmetology. The beauty industry offers endless career possibilities, including:
- Hair Stylist
- Hair Color Specialist
- Nail Artist/Manicurist
- Makeup Artist
- Salon/Spa Manager
- Salon or Day Spa Owner
- Cosmetology School Instructor
- Platform Artist/Educator
- Photo & Movie Stylist
- Image Consultant
- Beauty Magazine Writer/Editor
- And much more!
You may want a well-rounded background in Cosmetology which touches on all these career opportunities. Or, maybe you have your sights set on being a Makeup Artist or honing your craft and focusing your career on Esthetics.
You don't need to know which career you want now, but if you plan on having a specialty such as Nail Technology, there are specific cosmetology schools which focus on those particular fields. But do keep in mind that a full cosmetology program provides you the most flexibility-so you can choose to work in hair, skin and nails without limitation! That's why the majority of beauty school students choose the full cosmetology program.
Find a cosmetology school near you.
When you attend a school that is accredited, you're attending a school that is recognized for meeting national standards for educational performance, which has been established by an impartial agency. Most importantly for you, accredited schools are generally eligible to participate in the Federal government's student financial assistance programs, referred to as Title IV.
Attending an accredited school means you have access to more favorable financial aid alternatives, such as:
- Federal Grants
- Low-Cost Federal Loans
If you attend a school which is not accredited, you will largely need to pay cash to attend.
Two of the principal accrediting organizations for cosmetology schools are:
- The National Accrediting Commission for Cosmetology Arts & Sciences (NACCAS)
- The Council for Occupational Education (COE)
National Placement Assistance...
The education itself is very important, but is not your only consideration in selecting a school. You will want to favor a school that continues to aid you through employment. Be sure the school you choose has a network of industry contacts for employment placement, especially important in the event that your career is interrupted through a move to another city or state.
Questions you might want to ask the school you're enrolling in are:
- Do you assist in career placement locally and nationally?
- When do you begin assigning students - during their final months, after graduation or upon completion of a cosmetology license?
- Who are the school's industry contacts?
- Is the school affiliated with other beauty organizations than salons and spas if I'm considering a career in a corporate atmosphere or in theater, film, etc?
Frankly, schools which are part of larger cosmetology education systems have more national relationships and are better able to help long term with career opportunities. Be sure to ask lots of questions before you enroll so you know what type of career placement services the school can offer you.
Strong Industry Reputation...
Being associated with a school with an established professional reputation in the industry can help open many doors, since the school's reputation speaks volumes about the quality of your education. A school's strong reputation in the industry might also help when you begin building your clientele. When you research the school, consider a few topics in your search:
- Does this school have recognition in my community, state and nationally?
- Does the school have successful graduates that have brought recognition to the school?
- Does the school participate in community activities?
More importantly, a school that participates in community events throughout the year means more networking opportunities for you, allows students to give something back to their community, gain more experience with a variety a people, and the local and national exposure of the school participating in community causes sends a positive message out to the beauty industry.
Most schools will offer a basic cosmetology curriculum, which includes training in hair, skin and nails. Students learn the essential techniques for:
- Hair Cutting
- Applying Makeup
- Performing Manicures
What separates many of the top schools from an average school is non-technical training to help students develop the necessary people skills that will define your success in the professional salon industry. Remember that being a stylist is a "touching" profession—make sure the school you choose helps you build solid relationships with clients.
Creative Learning Techniques...
If you are like most future salon professionals, you are probably a "right brained" creative person, and learn better by seeing and doing than by reading. You will likely find that schools with curriculums and programs which follow more graphical and hands-on approaches are easiest to follow. Learning on mannequins or other visual means will help you visualize proper techniques and styles. Here are a few questions to ask a school when you research what they have to offer:
- What is a typical classroom experience like?
- What types of visual learning tools does the school use to help enhance the curriculum?
- Are mannequins part of my textbooks and tools that I'll need?
- Does the program allow me to work on real clients, mannequins or both?
It's important for you to ask as many questions as possible to help you find the school that suits you best. Choosing the right school encompasses every aspect of your education; from the hands-on training you should receive to the classroom instruction.
The Right Tools...
Another aspect of your training you need to consider is the type of tools you'll learn with or on, such as:
- Salon Quality Shampoo & Drying Stations
- Professional Hair Dryers
- And More
Getting a thorough hands-on education will help you in the real world. Do the mannequins have natural hair, bendable ears, eyelashes and makeup, just like your clients will? After all, a stylist can only be as good their model. Schools also offer training at student salons, where senior level students experience real-world training in performing services, working with retail product sales, and client retention. So choose a school with a quality student salon that offers a variety of services and retail products.
Training with Professional Products...
As a professional in the industry, you'll only want to use the best brands and products on your clientele. So BeautySchools.edu believes that you should be trained with a large variety of professional products from well-known, quality manufacturers.
- Working With Several Color Systems
- Working With Various Brands Of Hair Care Products
- Working With High-End Salon Quality Tools And Equipment Can Help Open Up More Job Placement Opportunities For You
You will have a good working knowledge of all the major areas and techniques in cosmetology. You owe it to yourself to get the type of training that allows you to work anywhere you want to work-not just on a specific brand of product.
Location, location, location...
You of course will prefer to find a conveniently located school in your area. If you're like many cosmetology students you may also have a job, so you'll want to be sure the school is:
- Convenient to both work and home
- Consider a school that is also near child care if you have children
- Easy to commute to and from
But with your career opportunities at stake, BeautySchools.edu suggests that location should not be your primary reason for choosing a school. A school that is closest or has the lowest tuition may not be what is best for you. Finding the right school means investigating all the pluses and minuses.
To help you, check out our featured beauty schools to see exactly how they stack up on all of these key factors.