Styling a future in beauty

Hands-on learning, career options among reasons students pick cosmetology school

Ann Jerry, Blaine High School

TAWNI KRAMER WANTED a job that would help people feel good about themselves inside and out.

So, she turned to cosmetology school.

Kramer is one of many students in Minnesota who choose cosmetology school over a traditional four-year university each year.

Cosmetology school certifies people to work with hair, skin and nails in the beauty industry. School officials say that such trade schools are a great option for students who are creative and want to get into the workforce quickly. Full-time cosmetology students typically finish within a year.

“I’m a fast-paced kind of girl,” said Kramer, 20, who attends the Minnesota School of Cosmetology in Woodbury. “I like getting stuff done.”

Pa Zong Moua, St. Paul Harding Senior High School

Nicole Linscheid, a coun­selor at the Minnesota School of Cosmetology, admits students such as Kramer every year. For hands-on learners, trade schools are a good option after high school, Linscheid said.

“Some people aren’t book learn­ers,” Linscheid said. “They can’t sit in a classroom all the time and retain the information.”

Tawni Kramer at beauty school, cutting hair

Kramer is living with family in Hudson, Wisconsin, while com­muting to the Minnesota School of Cosmetology in Woodbury. The school teaches about 150 students on two campuses in Woodbury and Plymouth. Tuition is $20,200 for the program, which lasts 10 to 12 months.

Kramer starts her day at 9 a.m. and attends school for about eight hours, stopping only for a short break. She spends the day setting up, working with two to three clients, checking in with teachers, cleaning tools and completing assigned projects.

However, not everything is hands-on in cosmetology school.

“There are still tests. There are still assignments to do,” Linscheid said. “It is a college. It’s just a different type of college.”

Kramer’s favorite part about cosmetology school is working with clients. She especially enjoys “seeing them taking a selfie within five seconds of getting the service done.”

“I get to make people feel beautiful and make them go outside and say, ‘I feel great today. I just got my hair done. I got my nails done. I feel pretty,’” Kramer said.

But there can be downsides. Kramer’s clients sometimes ask for difficult services, she said.

“It’s really hard to tell clients, ‘No.’ It’s the hardest thing in cosmetology school,” Kramer said. “I want to say yes to everybody, like, ‘Of course I can get you to a bleach blonde when you have black hair.’”

There are many career paths in cosmetology. People can follow their passion, whether it is specializing in hair, nails, skin treatments and more. Cosmetology graduates also can take apprenticeships in salons to gain experience and a wider range of skills.

Linscheid also noted the Minnesota School of Cosmetology has a diverse student body.

About 40 percent of people in the beauty industry in 2011 were people of color, according to a study done by the Professional Beauty Association, an organization of salon professionals based in the United States. The study also indicated that 84 percent of people in the field were women, with 61 percent of all salons in the nation owned by women.

But there are men in the field as well. The Minnesota School of Cosmetology has a male student who also is in the Air Force. He plans to open his own barber shop someday, Linscheid said.

As for Kramer, she plans to graduate from cosmetology school in about a month. Her advice to incoming students is to stay with it and be passionate about their career choice.

“Education is key,” Kramer said. “And if you can get that, take it.”