March 25, 2021

Our Complete Guide to Cosmetology School

Hairdresser styling client's hair

Have you always loved playing with hair and makeup? Does helping others feel beautiful excite you? These are signs you may have been born to be a cosmetologist!

If you’re curious about a career in cosmetology, but aren’t sure where to start. we’ve got you covered. We know it can feel confusing trying to figure out all the ins and outs of a new goal. That’s why we’ve put together this complete guide to cosmetology school to help you! In it we will cover everything you need to know about entering the cosmetology industry, including:

At Hays Academy of Hair Design, we are committed to helping you find success in this fun and rewarding industry. You can always feel free to contact us or visit our school if you have any questions! We are available and happy to help. Or, keep reading to see what life as a cosmetologist could look like for you!

What Is a Cosmetologist?

Holding up different brushes and tools.

First things first, what is a cosmetologist? A cosmetologist is someone who is licensed to perform certain beauty treatments. These treatments are usually within the hair, skin, nails, or makeup categories. More than this, a cosmetologist is someone who gets to spend their days inspiring others, perfecting their craft, and creating beauty! These are just a few reasons why psychologist Barry Schwartz ranked hairdressing as one of the top three most satisfying jobs in the world!

What Exactly Does a Cosmetologist Do?

If you’re wondering what exactly a cosmetologist can do, and what you can learn in cosmetology school, here are the answers! Cosmetologists are licensed to perform services in several categories of hair, skin, nails, and makeup.


Learn how to design to your client’s face shape, lifestyle, and more! Cosmetology school teaches you the techniques you need to be a successful hairdresser:

  • Layering
  • Stacking
  • Blunt Cuts and Bobs
  • Texturizing
  • Thinning
  • Bang Placement and Cutting

Hair Styling

Hairdresser styling a woman's hair.

Were you always the one doing your friends’ hair growing up? You may love specializing in hair styling! Here are just a few styling skills you can learn in school:

  • Braiding
  • Twists
  • Chignon
  • Heat Styling
  • Air Styling
  • Proper Product Selection

Hair Coloring

If you love using your creativity and have an eye for detail, becoming a color specialist could be your perfect career path. Here are just a few techniques you can mix and match to create beautiful looks that are all your own:

  • Balayage
  • Highlights
  • Color Blocking
  • Grey Coverage
  • Toning
  • Repigmentation

Other Chemical Services

Color isn’t the only chemical service that a cosmetologist is licensed to perform. Transform your client’s looks permanently or semi-permanently with these other chemical services:

  • Relaxer
  • Perm
  • Brazilian Blowout
  • Bond-building Treatments
  • Keratin Treatments

Basic Esthetics

You will need an esthetician’s license to perform certain advanced skin care services, like microdermabrasion. You can learn more about the differences between cosmetology and esthetics on our blog, but here are some basic esthetic skills you can expect to learn in cosmetology school:

  • Science of Skin
  • Facials
  • Cleansing
  • Exfoliating
  • Moisturizing
  • Toning

Basic Barbering

Barber cutting a man's hair

While there is some overlap between cosmetology and barbering, there are also some differences! If you are a cosmetologist in Kansas, the Kansas Board of Barbering requires additional training to receive your barbering license. As a cosmetologist, though, you can still learn all the basic barbering skills you need to succeed in men’s and precision haircutting:

  • Clipper Cutting
  • Clipper Over Comb
  • Fading
  • Scissor Over Comb
  • Beard Grooming
  • Mustache Grooming

Basic Nail Technology

Are you interested in a career in nail technology? At Hays Academy of Hair Design, we also offer a progressive nail technician course where you can learn advanced skills! Some basic nail skills are also included in our cosmetology program:

  • Nail Care
  • Manicuring
  • Pedicuring
  • Massage
  • Nail Shaping
  • Polishing


Ready to take your makeup techniques to the next level? You can learn several different makeup skills as a student in our cosmetology program:

  • Skin Preparation
  • Smoky Eye
  • Color Theory
  • Special Effects
  • Highlighting and Contouring
  • Setting

You may need additional certifications or training, but you can also offer these makeup services as a cosmetologist:

  • Eyelash Extensions
  • Permanent Makeup
  • Microblading
  • Airbrushing

Our Award-Winning School

At Hays Academy of Hair Design, we strive to offer our students the best possible education. Our school has even won dozens of awards! Our vision is to produce the most hireable, financially responsible graduates in the country. If that’s your vision too, contact us online to learn more and see what our school is like. We can’t wait to meet you!

How Can I Become a Cosmetologist?

Interested in becoming a cosmetologist? Licensing requirements will vary by state. Most states require a certain amount of training hours in addition to passing exam scores. In Kansas, the state Board of Cosmetology requires the following:

  • 1500 hours of instruction at an accredited school
  • Passing written and practical exam scores
  • Be at least 17 years of age
  • High school diploma or equivalency
  • Payment of any associated fees

Once you have these things, you are ready to become a licensed cosmetologist! Just don’t forget to renew your license. In Kansas, your license expires on the last day of your birth month annually. If you forget, you can always check the expiration date on your license. Failing to renew your license on time could result in additional fees or even reexamination. You can apply for license renewal here.

How to Choose the Right Cosmetology School?

Now that you know how to become a cosmetologist, the next step is to choose the right school for you. Everything from what programs are available to what schedules are offered can make a difference in your choice!

We always recommend taking a tour of your top schools before making a choice. A tour will allow you the opportunity to see the school in person. This way you can get a feel for the school’s vibe, ask questions, and meet the staff. Be sure to come prepared with the right questions! Here are just a few things you may want to ask about:

  • What programs are available?
  • What schedules are offered?
  • Is the school accredited?
  • Have the instructors worked in the industry themselves?
  • What is the school’s licensure rate?
  • Does the school help with job placement?
  • Is financial aid available?
  • What sets this school apart from other schools?

You can schedule your tour of Hays Academy of Hair Design by contacting us online, in person, or over the phone. We have campus locations in Hays and Salina, Kansas. Come visit us at whatever campus is most convenient for you. We can’t wait to meet you!

How Can I Pay For School?

woman in dress holding a piggy bank

One of the most common questions we hear from aspiring cosmetologists is how to pay for school. At Hays Academy of Hair Design, we are proud to offer *financial aid to those who qualify. You may be able to fund your education through:

  • Pell Grants
  • Subsidized Loans
  • Unsubsidized Loans
  • Direct Plus Loans
  • Scholarships

Currently, there are over a dozen links listed on our scholarship page that you can follow to find scholarships to apply to! Scholarships can be one of the best ways to fund your education because they do not need to be repaid. If you need help finding or applying to scholarships in cosmetology, please reach out to us! We have experience helping aspiring students just like you fund their dream education.

What Are the Benefits of Working in Cosmetology?

Working in cosmetology comes with several benefits. Aside from working for yourself, you also have the opportunity to use your creativity daily, problem-solve, and inspire others. These are just a few reasons why cosmetology can be such a rewarding industry. In fact, Owl Guru rated cosmetology as having above-average levels of job satisfaction.

Does the usual corporate lifestyle sound boring to you? In the cosmetology industry, you can work in a hip environment and form meaningful relationships. You’re always interacting with others, both your coworkers and your clients! Another benefit to working in cosmetology is being able to skip the traditional four-year college degree. You can complete our cosmetology program in as little as a year and enter the workforce sooner!

What Careers Can a Cosmetologist Have?

client receiving a makeup service

Now that you know some of the benefits of working in cosmetology, it’s time to talk about career options! In cosmetology, career opportunities are nearly limitless. You can choose whatever path sounds most exciting to you! Here are just a few possibilities:

  • Hairdresser
  • Spa Technician
  • Cruise Ship Beauty Therapist
  • Nail Technician
  • Hair Removal Specialist
  • Movie/ TV Hair and Makeup Artist
  • Photoshoot Stylist
  • Product Line Developer
  • Salon Manager or Owner
  • Color Specialist
  • Beauty Educator
  • Brand Ambassador
  • Influencer
  • Self-employed Stylist

Want to work for yourself? About one-third of all cosmetologists are self-employed! Whether you decide to rent a chair, open a salon suite, or even your own salon, cosmetology is full of opportunities to be your own boss. As a self-employed stylist, you can decide your own hours, service offerings, and pricing. Your earning potential would be up to you!

Get Started at Hays Academy of Hair Design!

Are you ready to get started? Pursue your education at our award-winning school! Hays Academy of Hair Design is all about creating licensed professionals who are ready to be hired and succeed in the industry. Want to learn more about our school? Contact us, or schedule your tour to see if we may be the right fit for you! We can’t wait to be a part of your journey into this exciting industry.

*Financial aid is available to those who qualify.