An interior view of an empty hair salon.
Photo courtesy of Kathryn Banks.

Maybe you’re a high school senior looking forward to graduating in May but the college route doesn’t seem like a good fit for you right now. Maybe you’re well into your 20s and just trying something new. Or maybe you’re switching from an established career you don’t love to something you’ve always had in the back of your mind.

No matter their reasons for being there, students of all ages and backgrounds find themselves at the various beauty schools in the Battle Creek and Marshall areas training to become hair dressers, nail technicians, estheticians and even instructors for the next generations of beauticians.

One thing that most beauty school students can agree on, however, is that it isn’t as easy as it may look, and your efforts will have to extend beyond your classes. Kristina Keefer, a 2018 graduate of The Salon Professional Academy in Battle Creek, agrees.

“My classes didn’t wholly prepare me for my career; it was only my furthered education and actual experience in the field that prepared me,” Keefer said.

Lisa Kirtley, a former instructor at The School of Designing Arts (now The Salon Spa Academy), stressed the importance of working hard and staying resilient to her students.

“I know a lot of people that choose to go into cosmetology as a fallback career. They believe it is easy and just playing with hair all day,” Kirtley said. “It is not! It is hard work both in and out of the salon, so anytime I see someone doing what they love I get so excited for them to have actually made it.”

But don’t let the hard work keep you away. Those working their way through the programs provided by these schools are grateful not only for the stepping stone provided to them, but for the close relationships this type of career path inherently fosters.

“My favorite services to provide are facial massages and masks. I plan to specialize in holistic approaches to skin care solutions, and more facial massage techniques,” Keefer said. “Some pros are the fair compensation for services, meaningful connections with clients, and extended education that is exciting and beneficial to clients, which in turn is truly rewarding.”

Sara Johnson, who attended Southwest Michigan School of Cosmetology and Barbering, shared a similar sentiment.

“While working as a makeup artist, seeing the look on clients’ faces once we were finished is priceless. That’s my favorite part. Knowing that I can make someone feel more beautiful than they already are is such a special feeling,” Johnson said.

So while beauty school may seem more grueling than it looks on paper, it’s also well worth it and easy to overcome with the proper schooling and, more importantly, the right mindset.

“I believe that for someone to be successful in cosmetology school they need to learn how to be flexible, innovative, detail-oriented, personable and a great problem solver. You can teach almost anyone the basic techniques and skills, but to really excel you need to be able to see the finished product before you even begin,” Kirtley said.

If you are considering seeking out a license in a beauty related field, you will soon find that the possibilities of career paths you can branch off to are endless, and you will undoubtedly find one that excites and challenges you each and every day.

“My advice to aspiring cosmetology students is to seek out your niche. Find the thing you love to do, and show why you are the best to do it. Further your education in this niche and become an expert. The rest will fall into place once your clients trust you and appreciate you for your specialized skill set,” Keefer said.