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How to Start a Beauty School

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An interest in teaching others about cosmetology is just the beginning when it comes to opening your own beauty school. You also must plan for and meet the regulatory requirements mandated by the state in which you open the school.

Get Licenses and Permits

The process for obtaining a license depends on the state. For example, in Pennsylvania, along with your application you must also include a detailed plan that shows the school's layout, classroom locations, where equipment will be located and information about restrooms and offices.

In addition, the application must provide a description of the school supervisor's background and experience as a certified cosmetology teacher. You also must show proof that you're applying for national accreditation or approval by the Pennsylvania Department of Education if you're opening a secondary vocational school.

Some states require proof that you have students enrolled before you are given a license, so you may end up spending money to find a location and get students before you even know if you'll get the license. For instance, the Massachusetts Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation says a beauty school must show proof that at least 25 students are enrolled before you receive the license.

Other states require you to apply for approval to teach specific types of classes. For instance, in Illinois, if you want to teach nail technology, you must fill out and submit a Licensed Cosmetology School Application for Approval to Teach Nail Technology.

Make a Business Plan

Make sure you have a solid business plan for your beauty school. It should include everything from your vision and objectives to how you'll price your services and reach out to potential customers. Consider the price of makeup kits, skincare products, anti-aging treatments and other supplies. Factor in the wages you'll pay too. Next, set a price for each service on your list and estimate the potential revenue.

If you need financing for your beauty school business, decide whether you're going to apply for a loan, contact investors or use peer-to-peer lending platforms. Assess your options, weigh the pros and cons and write everything down. Your business plan should also include a marketing strategy, expansion opportunities, legal aspects and other relevant information.

Choose a Location

Before you sign the lease for space for your school, find out what's required. For example, in Pennsylvania, you need a minimum of 2,750 square feet of space of which 750 square feet is dedicated to classrooms, for a maximum enrollment of 25 students, according to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Code. Look for a location that has plenty of parking for both teachers and students.

Obtain Quality Equipment

Outfit your school with shampoo basins and styling stations complete with mirrors and chairs. You also need storage for tools, products and linens. Bring in tables and chairs for manicures, as well as chairs for giving facials and applying makeup. Set up the classrooms with a chalkboard, chairs and desks or tables. Provide a locker for each student's personal cosmetology tools and belongings.

Find Certified Teachers

Find qualified teachers at accredited cosmetology schools that offer instructor programs, such as Paul Mitchell The Schools teacher training programs. Qualifications for teachers to obtain their instructor's license vary by state. For instance, the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs says that teachers must have at least three years of experience providing hair, skin or nail care, and at least 500 hours of instructor training before taking and passing a written exam.


Nancy Wagner is a marketing strategist and speaker who started writing in 1998. She writes business plans for startups and established companies and teaches marketing and promotional tactics at local workshops. Wagner's business and marketing articles have appeared in "Home Business Journal," "Nation’s Business," "Emerging Business" and "The Mortgage Press," among others. She holds a B.S. from Eastern Illinois University.

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