If you're into beauty and would love to turn your passion into a career, you've probably wondered, "how much does cosmetology school cost?"
That's a reasonable question seeing how it's practically impossible to practice cosmetology without gaining a cosmetology degree first.
How Much Does Cosmetology School Cost?
You can't practice as a cosmetologist unless you acquire your license. To do that, you must graduate from a cosmetology school. Cosmetology is one of the most regulated occupations, which means that there's no way around this strict requirement.
So, how much does cosmetology school cost? Unfortunately, we can't give you an exact figure. The answer depends on numerous factors, including tuition fees and whether or not you're eligible for financial aid.
In general, expect to spend anywhere between $ and $$$ on tuition alone.
No, Cosmetology Is Not Just Makeup
Before we get specific when answering "how much does cosmetology school cost?" let's define what we mean by the term "cosmetology."
Cosmetology is the study of beauty treatments. The term stems from the word "cosmetics," which most of us associate with makeup. However, cosmetics can mean anything that improves a person's physical appearance.
Cosmetologists provide services relating to:
Some cosmetologists perform a wide array of services, whereas others specialize in a specific area. For example, hairstylists concentrate on haircare, estheticians focus on skin care, and nail technicians have expertise in nail care.
A cosmetologist's duties might include:
By putting into practice their vast knowledge of cosmetics, facial shapes, color theory, physiology of skin, nails, and hair, cosmetologists help their clients achieve self-confidence.
In other words, a cosmetologist's primary goal is to make their client feel like a million bucks!
Cosmetology Schools And Beauty Schools Are Not The Same
You want to know the answer to "how much does cosmetology school cost?" But if you're like most people, you might have phrased the question a little differently. You might have asked, "how much does beauty school cost?"
Both beauty schools and cosmetology schools are educational institutions that teach students the art and science of looking good. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that people use "cosmetology school" and "beauty school" interchangeably.
However, that doesn't mean that cosmetology schools and beauty schools are the same.
Beauty school refers to an institution that offers a course on beauty, regardless whether it's a complete course or several specialized courses.
Indeed, it's not uncommon for beauty schools to only offer specialized programs covering just makeup artistry or aesthetician training, for example. The length of these courses vary, but they're usually quite short.
Cosmetology schools, on the other hand, offer full-length beauty courses on hair, makeup, skin care, and nails. Moreover, cosmetology schools provide their students with information on how to manage and grow a business.
For example, if you attend a cosmetology school, you will be taught accounting and management too. Business management skills are incredibly beneficial to individuals thinking of opening a salon in the future.
It can take students anywhere between nine months and two years to complete a cosmetology course.
Essentially, beauty schools are ideal for those who are interested in a specific niche, whereas cosmetology schools are perfect for those who desire to receive broader training.
Something to keep in mind is that by attending a cosmetology school, you're giving yourself the option to seamlessly switch to another area in the beauty industry without having to undergo additional training.
Let's Talk Money
Below we perform a cost breakdown to answer "how much does cosmetology school cost?"
Most cosmetology training involves hands-on experience, which means that students are unable to save money by taking an online course. Nonetheless, some schools do give their students the option of acquiring some online credits.
Your primary expense
The first thing we have to mention when answering "how much does cosmetology school cost?" is tuition. Indeed, tuition is going to be your biggest expense.
Tuition fees depend mostly on location. Cosmetology schools in rural areas are generally cheaper than cosmetology schools based in urban areas.
Speaking of location, don't forget in-state student discounts! You can lower the cost of your cosmetology course by attending a cosmetology school in your state of residence.
If you'd rather avoid tedious research, use our handy tool to get matched with a cosmetology school near you. Alternatively, take a look at our interactive state-by-state map to pick schools within your state.
Generally, cosmetology school tuition fees range anywhere between $ and $$$. Community colleges are typically the cheapest.
Private schools, as well as top cosmetology schools, are naturally more expensive. When you pay for the latter, you're mostly paying for a diploma with a respectable school's name.
Not that there's anything wrong with that. A degree from one of the best cosmetology schools in the country might help you land a job at a top salon.
How much tuition you'll end up paying also depends on the length of the course. Expect to dedicate up to two years of your life to an Associate's degree. However, you can also choose diploma and certificate programs. The latter can be completed in about a year.
According to the Higher Education Opportunity Act, all post-secondary institutions are required to provide a net price calculator on their site to make it easier for prospective students to find out what the total cost of attending a specific institution would be.
Everyone needs to sleep and eat
Cost of living is another factor that needs to be taken into consideration when answering "how much does cosmetology school cost?"
If your chosen cosmetology school is close to home, you'll probably live with your parents, thus cutting your expenses. Living on your own will, of course, increase the cost of attending a cosmetology school.
Depending on the cost of living in the area where you've chosen to train, you could spend around $$ a month for a room and other necessary living expenses such as food.
Your passion might save you money
Do you want to specialize in a specific area of beauty, or do you want to gain broader education? Your response will influence the answer to "how much does cosmetology school cost?"
Taking a shorter, more specialized course will cost you less than taking a full cosmetology course. That makes sense. More specialized courses are less comprehensive. Instead, these courses hone in on one specific area or skill. Consequently, they don't last as long either.
Of course, a specialized course is not an option if you don't yet know which aspect of beauty you're most passionate about.
You'll have to buy mannequin heads
Classes at cosmetology schools are mostly hands-on. That's pretty awesome in the sense that you're unlikely to get bored.
However, it also means that you'll need to purchase additional supplies as well as books. Of course, the cost of supplies influences the answer to "how much does cosmetology school cost?" too.
Books are unlikely to set you back much. Besides, you can get most of them second-hand. The cost of supplies, on the other hand, can quickly rack up.
As mentioned previously, most cosmetology courses explore several aspects of beauty, such as makeup, hair styling, and nail care. If you're expected to purchase tools and equipment for all of them (including scissors, mannequin heads, and razor blades), the cost of supplies can quickly add up to thousands of dollars.
By now you should have a pretty good idea as to what the answer to "how much does cosmetology school cost?" is.
If you want to do cosmetology but don't have the funds, consider applying for a financial aid program. Some cosmetology schools even offer scholarships to qualified students. Many financial aid programs pay the bulk of tuition, supplies, books, and sometimes even room and board.
If you decide to seek training at a private, unaccredited cosmetology school, you won't be able to apply for federal student loans to pay for your education. In this scenario, it's wise to check with the institution to see if it can refer you to private lenders.
Bear in mind that some cosmetology schools employ financial aid professionals. These professionals are there to help you explore and navigate the different payment and financial aid options available to you.
Is Cosmetology School The Right Choice For You?
Cosmetology courses are not cheap. However, they are generally less expensive than bachelor degrees. But beware. You're not entirely done shelling out money the moment your cosmetology course comes to an end.
Once you graduate, you'll need to obtain your license. Every state has different requirements and licensing fees. Depending on the state you live and train in, your license might cost you less than $. But you could also end up spending more than $$ on it too.
Furthermore, once you obtain your license and get offered a position at a salon (or rent a booth), you might want to look into getting a professional liability insurance policy.
Employers don't always provide insurance, and even when they do, the policy doesn't necessarily cover you 100 percent. Since there are countless beauty-related emergency visits every single year, it pays to protect your career.
All of this might sound daunting, but if becoming a cosmetologist is truly your life's calling, the cost shouldn't discourage you.
Don't discount scholarships and grants. Furthermore, be sure to look into options that allow you to go to school part-time, thus enabling you to work and graduate with less debt, or if you're lucky, with no debt at all!
Are you looking to go to cosmetology school? Or maybe you've already graduated? Let us know your experience in the comments below!