What is Cosmetology School?


Natalie Meschuk

Kirstin Groat cutting Katherine Meschuk’s hair. (Photography by: Natalie Meschuk)

Natalie Meschuk, Staff

Have you ever wondered what the process of becoming a hairstylist, a nail artist, or even a makeup artist is like? Those who work in these professions tend to go to cosmetology school, where they study hair, skin, and nails. But what is the process for getting a cosmetology license? 

If you’re interested in getting your license, you must be at least 16 years old and have finished two years of high school. Kirstin Groat, a graduate of the cosmetology program at Golden West College (GWC) said, “This course was 1,600 hours [long] and took a lot of discipline. It was 8 A.M. to 4 P.M. five days a week for about a year. There were lectures every day and then hands-on practical learning for the remaining part of the day. As you move through the program, you get to work on clients and perform services such as haircuts, hair color application, manicures, facials, etc.”

At the end of every cosmetology course, The California State Board has a written exam that every student has to take if they want to continue in the field professionally. This specific exam for cosmetologists requires each student to be able to write, read, and speak at a 10th-grade level. The exam itself requires cosmetologists to take 100 questions and 10 pre-test questions that have to be completed in the given 120 minutes. GWC offers this course, and shares that a hairstylist’s average salary is around $35,160 annually.

Groat also said, “Once [I] passed the California State Board exam and became a licensed cosmetologist, it was not difficult to find a job. It did take some time to figure out if I wanted to be a commission-based stylist or rent my own station. It was also helpful to have met clients during the cosmetology program to gain experience and build a client base once I started working in a salon.” 

Cotilla Dahabreh, a freshman at Huntington Beach High School (HBHS), said, “I was interested [in Cosmetology] because I used to like to wear makeup, but now I think it’s a creative way to make someone feel good about the way they look.”

Cosmetology is a highly popular field, and if you are interested in diving into this area a great website to look at is the course catalog at Huntington Beach’s local GWC. It gives a comprehensive overview of what the course entails and gives context to some job salaries after you finish the course.