By Lisa Jenkins
Once an individual has decided to pursue a career in cosmetology, the next decision to be made is where to attend cosmetology school. There are a number of things to look for when it comes to deciding which school is right.
Cosmetology schools that have been accredited have met academic and institutional requirements set up by a school accrediting organization, such as the National Accrediting Commission for Cosmetology Arts & Sciences (NACCAS). When accrediting cosmetology schools, agencies like NACCAS look at criteria like the strength of the curriculum, the focus of the education offered, the condition of the facility, the quality of the faculty and administration, and the requirements for admission. The main reason that accreditation is important for cosmetology students is that accredited institutions have the ability to offer financial aid like scholarships, grants, and loans to their students, while those who are not accredited do not.
Where schools are located is another important consideration to make. Potential cosmetology students shouldn’t just consider cosmetology schools close to where they live; it is important to visit several schools in various locations. Obviously, attending cosmetology school in an urban area will be a different type of experience for the student than a school located in a small town. When choosing a school, other factors such as curriculum, size, and even the feel of the campus should influence an individual’s decision as much or more than where the school is located.
If you are planning to work or have family responsibilities while attending cosmetology school, it is important to check into the various class schedules that may be available. Some schools offer flexible scheduling, a choice of part-time or full-time schooling, evening classes, internships or apprenticeships as part of the instruction, and sometimes even online training. This kind of flexibility is student-friendly and can be instrumental to successful completion of the cosmetology program.
Most cosmetology schools offer a rather comprehensive curriculum that provides the students with a well-rounded cosmetology education. Some schools also offer training in more specific areas of study, and if you are leaning toward specializing in a certain service, such as skin care or nails, it would be worth your while to investigate whether or not the schools you are considering offer such specialized training. Another good question to ask is whether the school’s program is self-designed according to student need (job skill oriented), or pre-determined and essentially the same for all students (state license oriented). If the goal is to obtain a cosmetology license as quickly, easily, and inexpensively as possible, the state license oriented curriculum is probably the way to go, but if the goal is to specialize and get the job skills necessary to be a successful cosmetologist, the job skills oriented program may be a better fit. Educational requirements for a basic cosmetology education as well as for various specialized programs vary by state.
Another important consideration for potential cosmetology students is the cost of the program. Cosmetology tuition varies widely according to school and location. A cosmetology program in a metropolitan area may cost $10,000 or more (plus transportation and parking), while a program in a rural area could run approximately $6500. The completion of specific programs, such as esthetics or nails will usually be much less, costing somewhere between $3000 and $5000 on the average. By choosing an accredited school, a student may be able to defray some of these costs by becoming eligible for financial aid.
When choosing a cosmetology school, it is important to inquire about the career placement services that may be in place at each individual school. Important topics to ask about include the job placement success rate, and the type of reputation and relationship the school has with area salons, spas, and cosmetologists. Image can be an important consideration regarding cosmetology schools. If the school is looked upon as an industry leader by salon owners, chances are graduates will be highly sought after and jobs will be easier to obtain.
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