Life After Cosmetology School

I FINALLY did it guys! I made it to the other side of my journey. When I first filled out my paperwork and went to orientation, I dreamed of this day. I wondered what life after cosmetology school would be like.

Where would I work? What would be my specialty? Would I work in a salon or maybe rent out a suite? Heck, I wondered if I would even be residing in the same city after graduation. Everyone knows I’m dying to move to another city and see what the world has to offer for my family.

The Need to Know

Once you finish school, the counselors give you a “road map” to guide you through the next steps to take. For me, that was waiting two weeks for an email notifying me of my eligibility to register for state boards.

After completing the program, your student license is terminated. You will be issued a temporary cosmetology license that allows you to work as a cosmetologist in some circumstances. This gave many people that I attended school with an opportunity to work immediately after finishing school.

This directly affected me. The salon I wanted to work at does not allow temporary licenses. So I have to wait until I am issued my license before I can start working. At school, I was under the assumption that as long as you had your temporary license, you could start working. Be sure to double check with your desired salon in regard to working with a temporary license.

The State Board Exam

There are two exams that you will take. The written exam is usually computer based and consist of 110 multiple choice questions. You have 90 minutes to take the exam.

There is also a hands on practical exam that takes 3 hours. This exam will cover thermal stylings with a marcel iron, razor cutting, a basic hair cut with layers, rolling perm rods, highlights and relaxers.

You will need to earn at least 75% (in the state of Missouri) on both a written and practical exam to get your professional license.

Related Post: 12 Things I’ve Learned from Cosmetology School

Where to Work

As I mention above, you may have to option to start working before you take you exam once you are issued a temporary license.

Working from Home: Some decide to work from home, but please be careful if you go this route. There are certain standards and protocol you have to take and be compliant with laws in your state. You have to have a separate entrance, separate washer and dryer, and proper ventilation is required in “at home” salons.


Renting a Suite: Almost every teacher I spoke with decided to go this route. They said they were younger and less knowledgeable. Use their mistakes and learn from it! Sadly, most of them lost a lot of money in the beginning and wished they would have make different choices.

I personally would not recommend renting a salon suite after graduating. Unless you have the clientele to support overhead costs, you’ve been saving money, and can afford to start from scratch it will be hard. I’ve watched a youtuber, Amber Mellon, start her salon suite business with zero clientele and enjoy watching her journey. She shares a lot of information if you are wanting to do the same. Definitely stop by her channel and check her out.

Booth Rental: Booth rental is very similar to renting a suite except you are not working in the confines of your own mini salon. Instead you will be working in someone else’s salon with other stylist. In some cases, the other stylist may also be renting but some could very well be on a commission basis (we will discuss that later) and could have a different set of rules.

With booth rental, you may not have to worry about the responsibility of keeping up with inventory and products. You will be able to use everything the salon has to offer within the guidelines of the contract you have with the owner. You just have to worry about paying the rent for your space, which is usually a weekly payment.

Some Safer Options

Life after cosmetology school will be hard. Going to school leaves little time (for some) to work and save up for the overhead expenses that would come with rentals right after graduating. If you don’t have the clientele or funds, I would suggest going with a safer option.

Commission: When working on a commission basis, you will receive a certain portion of the sales from the service provided and products sold. Most salons (in my area) start off at 45% commission and some have the potential to go up to 65% depending on their pay scale. In this case, you will have to bring in so much in sales for a certain period of time to be able to move up to a higher level and earn more commission.

If you decide to go this route, you usually do not have to worry about bringing in your own clientele right away but it is always encouraged that you put in effort to get people in your chair.

Hourly: Some places, it doesn’t matter how much you bring in when it comes to services. You will get paid a flat hourly rate. Places like Fantastic Sams, Sports Clips, Great Clips and many others offer a salary pay. In this type of setting, you will also not have to worry about bringing in your own clientele. In addition to that, a lot of them only offer a limited amount of services and tend to specialize in one area or another (ie hair cuts).

My Experience with Life after Cosmetology School…


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