HOW TO: Find the Best Hair & Makeup School for You
Searching for the "right school" can be a daunting challenge. For some this will be an entirely new career or even career change which can be scary. You may not know where to look or what you are even looking for. This is a major personal decision and investment and in the end you should graduate knowing you picked the right school for you. We have compiled a list of 8 things to consider to help you along the way and sort out which one will be the best fit. Every school and every student are a little different and we want to make sure you find the best option for you.
There’s a lot to ponder, so we thought of a few top tips to help make things a bit easier!
Top things you should consider on your search:
1. Know your Goals
Before you start researching schools there are a few things you will need to decide first, such as:
What is your end goal? Your dream?
Do you want to work in a salon or on location?
Do you want to focus on a specific niche in the industry?
Where do you see yourself working?
What do you see yourself doing?
Are you working with others or solo?
You don’t have to have this all figured out, but it’s good to have a general idea of the type of work and part of the industry you aspire to be a part of. Does that include wanting to cut and or color hair or provide facials and waxing services to your clients in a salon or spa environment? Then perhaps a cosmetology or esthetics program would in fact be a better fit for you. If you dream of more freedom to work doing brides or photoshoots then maybe a program that leads to licensure isn’t necessary. Traditional beauty schools will teach you what you need to know to pass state board exams and get your license, but sadly spend very little time covering makeup or event hairstyling. Whereas a school that focuses on makeup and styling hair will give you a much more in-depth training specifically related to those pursuits. And these types of schools don’t have to be mutually exclusive! It may be worth considering doing both if you dream of doing it all! These completely different programs can actually compliment each other nicely to give you an incredibly well rounded education.
2. Location, Location, Location
You really can’t choose the best beauty school for you unless you tour the campus. Checking out the website is a great first start, but you’ll see and learn so much more when you meet with Admissions in person. By touring the school, you’ll learn what the commute will be like, how accessible parking is, how clean the classrooms are, and how safe the area where the campus is located seems.
It is okay if you are not willing to travel X amount of miles or do all of the things your (friend/parent/stranger) think you "should" be searching for. Ultimately this is going to be a personal choice, YOU are in charge. Maybe you only want to travel a half hour, or maybe you're okay with a 2 hour commute.
Another thing to consider is your general sense of the feel of the school. It’s not just the facilities and reputation of a makeup school that matters, it’s the people. If you visit a place that gives off good vibes, that’s a sure sign that your course is likely to be enjoyable.
3. The Curriculum
Not everyone has the same attention span, nor learn the same way. Some prefer to be pushed, have deadlines and be held accountable while others prefer to go at their own pace.
Part of the experience in studying at a makeup school is finding your true passion. You might, for instance, have a penchant for a career working on TV and film. Or perhaps you’re more interested in the world of fashion or stage makeup artistry? There are many roles and paths to choose from and it’s useful to explore them all. Ultimately though a good program will help shape that decision and point you in the right direction.
Have a look at the syllabus, download a copy of the brochure and have a look at the general style of the makeup and hair in the images they share. This can give you a good idea of the type of looks and techniques you will be learning so ask yourself is this in line with the type of makeup and hair I want to be doing? If you see a lot of info and images of SFX but you want to do bridal then the curriculum probably won’t really help you become the best bridal artist you can be. Same goes for if you want to specialize in character transformations but the school’s focus is beauty. The curriculum and your goals should be aligned.
4. Length of Course and/or Program offered
Training can differ in length with some lasting days and others years. Some are run online, and others are in-person with face-to-face interaction from instructors and real hands-on experience. Once you determine the platform, you'll need to decide how much time you can commit to your training. Depending where you are on your journey will determine how much time you can dedicate, especially if this is a new career.
Ask yourself how long are you looking to study? Is it a short course that you’re after, or are you looking for longer, more in depth courses? Longer courses give you a full breadth of skills, many hours of training, and the qualifications that can prove your worth to future employers. Shorter courses are helpful for brushing up on your skills in particular areas.
If you are mostly interested in just getting the absolute basics and willing to figure out the rest on your own, or if you already have those foundational skills and are just looking to take your skills to the next level then maybe a course or two would be enough to get you there. If you are seeking a program that will give you the most hands-on training available will take you through beginner, intermediate, and advanced techniques then you may be more suited for a longer program. The benefit of having more training hours is you won’t just learn hair & makeup skills, your training will also have time to cover things like how to handle real world scenarios, learn about being self-employed, and gain insight into different aspects of the industry that will ultimately help you be a better makeup artist or hairstylist.
You don't want to break the bank but you should also know a great education will be worth its weight in value. AKA a great school will not be cheap but that is why it's important to first know your goals.
Do you know what your tuition goes towards?
Do you get a kit?
Access to a network?
Do they offer specialized and intensive courses?
Will the value equal or outweigh the cost?
6. Learn about the Instructors
When considering schools, you should absolutely find out: What do they actually teach? What techniques and methods will you learn? Are the instructors at the school professionals who have worked in the field? And, most importantly, will they help you develop into the artist that you want to become?
It'll take a little bit of research to find out about the school, so go to their website and look at every page. Does the environment look professional? Do you get the impression that they love teaching, and want their students to succeed, or are they simply trying to get as many people into class as possible?
Because there are no makeup licenses, you are simply there to learn. Your research should convince you that the class or program you're going to take is going to get you to the next level of your professional development.
Your instructors will be the ones guiding you towards your new career. It’s important to know what they are like. If you can, find out what experience they have and how long they have been teaching. You’ll also want to know what the instructor-student ratio is. Will you get one on one time with your instructors or are students expected to learn in a large group setting? You’ll want to choose a school with a teaching style that suits you.
7. Do they teach business skills?
A good training school should provide you a training in varied branches – and should include how to run your business. There are some business skills that any successful makeup artist and hairstylist will need to have, and it's super-helpful when schools teach them. Getting some business training in your classes will lay the foundation for your future brand.
Certain makeup courses have units focused on starting your own business, giving you the skills you need to name and register your business, set up your office, do your taxes, write your business plan, and much more. Beginning your makeup career armed with business savvy will set you apart from the competition.
Your makeup school should definitely teach you a thing or two about how to successfully start and manage a business. You never know, you may start working for a cosmetic company or salon where business training is highly valued! A great makeup or hair program will also help you prepare your portfolio, or at least give you a little guidance on how to do so. A career in makeup and or hair is not just about the artistry.
You'd be surprised at how many schools boast that they teach business but often it is barely glazed over leaving graduates to fend for themselves.
What business topics do they teach?
What will you walk away knowing?
What will you have setup/completed for your business by graduation?
Do they teach anything about budget or finances?
8. Go with Your Gut
You know that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach that either feels great or makes you want to run away? YES, tap into that to ultimately decide. Schedule a tour, sit in one of the seats, how does it feel? Can you see yourself attending this school? Are you getting good vibes from the teachers/environment?
In the end you have to go with what feels right. As mentioned this is a major personal decision and investment. So, what is the best school for you? We can't answer that for you, but the guidelines above should help you make the right decision. In most cases, it's a great investment, but ultimately, that's your call. Have faith in yourself, and you will make the right decision!
If you have any questions or want to know more about our school experiences please comment below.
Alchemy Beauty Academy was created based off our experiences and what we felt was missing from what is currently offered, and we strive to provide you with the training we wished existed when we were first starting out!
Hollie & Kimm