How to Become a Cosmetologist

Cosmetology is a field that is growing steadily. As public interest in beauty ramps up and influencers online popularize new trends and looks almost weekly, demand for practitioners skilled enough to help clients create and maintain specific looks has never been higher. And if you love beauty and helping others achieve their best selves, cosmetology may well be for you. Becoming a cosmetologist takes work to be sure, but with these simple steps, you’ll find yourself taking clients in a salon in no time.

1. Qualifications

Not anyone can apply for cosmetology school. The minimum age to start training is 16 years old in most states, and a high school diploma or GED is required. Every state has slightly different recommendations and requirements before signing up for classes, so make sure you check your local state requirements and take the steps necessary to meet them before signing up. 

2. Finding Your School

Not all cosmetology schools are the same. In order to become a certified cosmetologist, you need to graduate from a state-approved program. Once you have ascertained that this course is approved by the state, here are other things to take into account:

    1. Look at previous student’s reviews of the school. They will give you a good idea of how satisfied previous students are with the quality of education they received.
    2. Look up the certification rate of the school. Of the amount of students that enroll, how many successfully graduate the course with certification?
    3. Check out the hiring rate of graduates from that school. If the hiring rate out of a cosmetology school is high, it means that businesses trust the quality of training the school provides and will be just as likely to offer you a job once you are qualified. And how successful are the graduates in the field? Cameo Beauty Academy is happy to boast several celebrity-successful graduates, including Ben Mollin, who successfully starred in the TV show Shear Genius after graduating.
    4. Check the school’s equipment. Is the equipment recent, or does the student salon look like the set of Steel Magnolias? Once you graduate you will be working in salons, and it’s unlikely they will be using 90’s cast-offs to treat their clients. And if you don’t know how to use the latest equipment, you’ll soon find yourself out of a job.


3. Study

Becoming a cosmetologist can be a really fun process, but it’s also hard work. There are requirements of both study hours and hands-on practice hours before you can graduate or take the certification exam. Pace yourself, work hard and ask questions when you have them. Good teachers of cosmetology want to help you succeed and if they see that you’re committed they will be your best asset to getting where you want to be. Take advantage of all your studying and hands-on practice hours to hone your craft and learn from each mistake so that when you get out into the “real world” of salons you are ready, qualified and confident.

Now is a good time to decide if you want to specialize in a specific field of cosmetology as well. There are a number of avenues you can pursue within the field, and if one part of the practice is really calling to you, find out what you need to do to become qualified as a specialist in that area. Examples of specialties within cosmetology are beautician, stylist, wedding stylist, barber stylist, nail tech, spa tech and more!

4. Graduation and Certification

The state will not allow you to take the license exam until you have graduated from your state-approved program and fulfilled all your study and hands-on practice requirement hours. Once you’ve given it all you got and graduated (congrats!!) take the state exam and receive your official certification! If you've chosen to specialize, make sure to dot your i’s and cross your t’s to receive your specialized license as well. And now it’s time to head out and find your dream job!

5. Work In Your Field

Upon graduating, some want to jump right in while others prefer to apprentice or intern first. Neither is a bad decision, it’s highly reliant on what works for you and what will get you to your goal. And the goals in this field are many--some want to take a job at the local salon, others want to start working for high profile clients or wedding parties, still others want to strike out on their own (more on that here). Once you know what your dream is, take the steps necessary to pursue it. Consult with your teachers and guidance counselors on how they can help you take the steps toward your dream job in cosmetology--your success is their (and your school’s) success. Have patience, work hard and you will be one more of many success stories in this field. 

Follow these steps--qualify, pick the right school, work hard, get certified--and you will be able to fulfill your dreams of becoming a successful cosmetologist. If you’re in the Chicago area, there is no better place to learn your craft than at Cameo Beauty Academy! We pride ourselves on our excellent facilities, teachers, and long line of successful graduates who are working in their fields and specializing in many aspects of cosmetology. Enroll today and enjoy a $500 scholarship toward your studies!

Find out how to get your career started and about our Scholarship opportunities!

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