While there are no hard and fast rules for getting into beauty school, applicants who meet their state's cosmetology license requirements have the best opportunities for being accepted into and succeeding in beauty school.
Cosmetology License Requirements
As in many other professions, license requirements for cosmetology vary by state. For states that list age among their cosmetology license requirements, the minimum age is typically 16, 17, or 18. Many states set a minimum requirement for high school education, such as two years of high school or a diploma or GED. Connecticut, Illinois, and Oklahoma only require beauty school applicants to complete the 8th grade, and Georgia, Maryland, and Michigan require a 9th grade education. Some states -- Alaska, North Carolina, Oregon, Utah, and Virginia -- have no age and high school requirements at all. Visit the National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology online to find out how to contact your state cosmetology licensing board and determine its requirements.
Beauty School Entrance Exams
You don't have to take traditional college entrance exams like the SAT or ACT to get into beauty school. But if you don't have a high school diploma or GED, you may have to take an entrance exam like one of the Ability-to-Benefit (ATB) tests or Tests of Adult Basic Education (TABE) in order to enroll.
Beauty School Application
Beauty schools do require an application - it may be a simple registration or enrollment form, or it could be more in depth with resume-style boxes to complete (e.g., work experience, prior education, etc.). Beauty school applications may require you to choose a course of study in advance, such as electrology, nail technology, hair design, esthetics, or general cosmetology.
Beauty School Essays
Some beauty schools require short essays as part of their application. As opposed to a liberal arts college essay, a beauty school essay is more like a letter of intent detailing why you would like to be part of the beauty industry and how you are suited to a career in beauty.
Additional Beauty School Requirements
Just like a liberal arts college, your beauty school may require references or letters of recommendation as well as informational and admissions interviews. Other schools insist that you visit the school one or several times before enrolling. Your required visits may include a campus tour, financial aid interview, class visit, and complementary spa services. Still others require you to tour and conduct informational interviews at several salons or spas before you can get into beauty school.
All of these may seem like a lot of hoops to jump through to get into beauty school, but performing due diligence will help you solidify your school choice and your career plans.
Beauty School Application Deadlines
In general, you don't need to worry about meeting an annual application deadline for beauty school. Many schools do not operate on a traditional academic year schedule; some schools offer the opportunity to enroll at the beginning of each month. Never assume that it's too late or too early to apply to beauty school.
Bottom line: it takes passion and dedication to get into beauty school and succeed. If you're ready to commit to cosmetology, apply to beauty school today!