Cosmetology Schools in Florida
If you’re considering earning a cosmetology license in Florida, the future looks very sunny. Thanks in part to a robust tourism and hospitality industry, Florida has the fourth-highest employment level of hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists in the U.S., and three of its metropolitan areas have the highest concentration of jobs in the nation.
Learn what cosmetology programs in Florida include, along with information about earning a Florida cosmetology license and what you can expect from a beauty career in the Sunshine State.
Why a Cosmetology Career?
The rewards of a cosmetology career are plenty—boosting people’s confidence by improving their appearance, being part of how people present themselves in important life situations, helping clients address conditions that may be painful or affect their well-being, and much more.
But there are other reasons this is a satisfying career. It enables you to explore your creativity and keeps you on top of trends. It involves working with all kinds of people, so every day is different from the last. This isn’t a predictable 9-to-5 kind of job; your workday schedule usually allows for considerable flexibility and control over your salary. And the more clients you see, the more you earn!
The opportunities within this field are numerous. Whether you’re interested in cutting and styling hair, applying makeup for weddings or events, selling cosmetic products, or several other unexpected beauty jobs, the sky’s the limit if you have a cosmetology license in Florida.
In terms of career stability, cosmetology is an ideal option. You can’t outsource a haircut or order a facial online, which is why many people call cosmetology a recession-proof career. Regardless of what the economy is doing, people will always want their hair cut and styled, their nails glammed up, and their skin pampered.
Getting Your Cosmetology License in Florida: FAQs
Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about cosmetology school.
What Does a Cosmetologist Do?
Cosmetologists provide hair and beauty services to help clients enhance their appearance. This may involve:
- Cutting, styling, or coloring hair
- Providing manicures and pedicures
- Analyzing skin and providing services to care for it
- Consulting with clients on their beauty and personal grooming routines
- Accepting payments for services
- Recommending cosmetic products and providing usage information
How Much Does Cosmetology School Cost?
Your specific costs depend on your program, your school’s location, the courses you take, and more. However, according to the American Association of Cosmetology Schools (AACS), a full cosmetology program in a rural setting averages around $6,500, while in a metropolitan setting, this might be more like $10,000.
Typically, esthetician (skin care) and manicuring (nail) programs take less time and cost less, starting at around $3,000.
How Long Are Cosmetology Programs?
The Florida Board of Cosmetology requires that students complete a 1,200-hour program at an approved cosmetology school before being eligible for licensure. Typically, this takes one to two years, depending on whether you attend school full-time or part-time.
What Are the Best Cosmetology Schools?
According to Beauty Schools Directory, there are 111 cosmetology training programs in Florida offered by Title IV institutions, though many more state-approved or agency accredited programs are qualified to teach for licensure in the state. Aspiring students can find a wide array of offerings around the state, from full cosmetology programs to those specializing in makeup artistry, electrolysis (hair removal), or permanent makeup and tattooing.
Of the Title IV schools listed, Aveda Institute (Tallahassee and South Florida locations) and Paul Mitchell the School (Jacksonville and Orlando locations) graduated the highest numbers of cosmetology students in the 2020-2021 school year.
Aveda Institute has six locations throughout Florida, and graduates receive placement assistance in Aveda’s network of over 9,000 salons, spas, institutes, and stores. Students appreciate its natural products made with certified organic ingredients, and reviews suggest it offers a good mix of hands-on and classroom training, with some of the best training in the industry.
Paul Mitchell the School has five locations around Florida. Its training involves moving through three levels—Core, Adaptive, and Creative—under the direction of Learning Leaders in a salon-like environment.
Types of Florida Cosmetology Schools
Much of your cosmetology school experience depends on the type of school you attend: a private beauty academy, a program offered through a community or vocational college, or a school affiliated with a big-name brand in the beauty industry.
Private Cosmetology Schools
Private cosmetology schools may be small independent schools that aren’t associated with certain cosmetic or beauty brands and aren’t part of a community college system. They tend to have smaller classes and a more intimate setting. Funding comes entirely from students or alumni, and because of this, they may be more expensive than programs at publicly funded institutions.
Community College Cosmetology Programs
These programs are housed within community colleges, whose mission is accessibility to local students. Community colleges’ focus is to provide training for the local workforce. They are usually government-funded and tend to be the most affordable for students.
Some community colleges may offer cosmetology programs as associate degrees rather than professional certifications. In associate degree programs, you will likely be required to complete general education courses such as math and English in addition to your cosmetology classes. You may also experience larger classes for the number of cosmetology teachers available, compared to at an independent beauty school. Also, because cosmetology students will only be a small fraction of the total student population, there may not be an on-campus salon or as much name-brand training available.
Big Brand Cosmetology Schools
These are institutions with many locations, which may be associated with recognizable beauty brands, such as Aveda, Redken, or Paul Mitchell. There can be benefits and drawbacks to attending these schools. Because these are well-known brands that in some cases are associated with products carrying household names, job-hunting may be easier for some grads.
You may also have greater access to scholarship funding. For example, Redken has established a scholarship program for students enrolled in or accepted at Redken’s The Salon Professional Academy. However, scholarships can come from many places, so do your research for what you can apply for apart from what the school offers directly.
For certain schools with dedicated products, students with training from these specific brands may only learn that brand’s methodologies or use its products, rather than working with many brands. For example, Aveda schools are renowned for teaching the Aveda philosophy and methods and exclusive use of Aveda products. Students who seek training at these schools are typically drawn to those schools and what they stand for. While this may be somewhat restricting for the job search, graduates with this dedicated product line training are also uniquely qualified in some instances for jobs at specific salons using those same brands and products.
Financial Aid for Cosmetology Students
If you’re concerned about being able to afford cosmetology school, it’s important to know that you may be able to receive financial aid from the federal or state government, through private organizations, or in the form of loans that you’ll pay back after you graduate.
Federal aid includes grants, which are funds that don’t need to be paid back (usually determined by financial need), work-study jobs, and loans, which students must pay back. Though students can get loans through the government or private lenders, government loans generally have lower interest rates and more favorable terms. You can only get federal aid if you take a cosmetology program through a Title IV school.
You may also be able to receive scholarship funding through private or public organizations or offices based on your background, your career goals, or your involvement in the military.
The best place to start determining whether you qualify for financial aid is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Scholarships for Cosmetology Students in Florida
More scholarships are available to cosmetology students than we can name here. However, here’s a list of several scholarships you may qualify for:
Beauty Changes Lives Scholarship Program
Beauty Changes Lives is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that awards scholarships for cosmetology (five), esthetics (two), and makeup (two) students, as well as to licensed professionals (two) looking to upgrade their careers, thanks to funding from leading beauty brands. Scholarships vary by amount and deadline.
Great Clips Great Scholarship Program
Given in memory of Alice Madden Barton, whose goal was to give more young people an opportunity to work in cosmetology, salon chain Great Clips, Inc. offers up to 22 $5,000 scholarships every year. Applications are accepted year-round; applicants must fill out an application form and write an essay.
The Joe Francis Haircare Cosmetology Scholarship
This scholarship was established in the name of Joe Francis, who founded The Barbers Corporation and wanted to help others find opportunities in the salon business. Scholarships are for $1,500 or more per recipient, based on academic commitment and demonstrated financial need. Applications are accepted between January 1 and June 1 of each year.
The Skin Care Ox: Beauty + Wellness Scholarship for Women
This scholarship program provides financial support to women attending college who strive to lead healthy lifestyles. The scholarship, which offers $1,000 plus an organic beauty basket for college students or $500 plus the basket for high school students, is ideal for cosmetology students who aspire to use natural, chemical-free products and emphasize total wellness. Applications are due once a quarter—January 1, March 1, June 30, and September 30.
Experts in Wax Scholarship
European Wax Center, a chain of stores offering wax services, offers six annual $2,000 scholarships to new or currently enrolled cosmetology or esthetics students each year. Applicants must complete online applications, upload “before and after” photos of their brow work, and a personal video responding to question prompts.
Florida Gold Seal Vocational Scholarship
As part of Florida’s Bright Futures Scholarship Program, the GSV Scholarship is for students seeking applied technology diplomas, technical degrees, or career certificates from approved Florida public colleges or vocational schools, earned a minimum high school GPA of 3.0 (3.5 in career education courses), and complete 30 service hours. Amounts are based on institution type and whether they are semester- or quarter-based.
The state of Florida also offers scholarship and grant programs for students who demonstrate need, academic merit, status as a first-generation college student, or other qualifications. For example, future cosmetologists may take advantage of the Florida Public Postsecondary Career Education Student Assistance Grant Program, which offers need-based grant funding to students enrolled in participating Florida community colleges. To determine whether you qualify, you must fill out the FAFSA and/or Florida Financial Aid Application (FFAA). Other scholarship options include:
- Florida Farmworker Student Scholarship Program
- Florida Work Experience Program
- Scholarships for Children and Spouses of Deceased or Disabled Veterans
Career and Salary Outlook for Cosmetology Graduates
According to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, “personal appearance” worker jobs are expected to grow by 16.7% between 2021 and 2029. Within that category, hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists have a projected 12.9% job growth. This estimate aligns with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projections—12% growth and 6,910 annual job openings in the state through 2028.
According to Indeed.com, some Florida employers urgently need cosmetologists and are willing to pay considerably more. For example, employers in large metro areas, such as Tallahassee and Miami, are advertising positions up to $120,000 per year. Traveling cosmetologists can earn upwards of $75/hour.
Areas attractive to tourists or “snowbirds” (retirees who relocate to warm-weather cities in winter) such as Boca Raton and West Palm Beach typically pay higher wages to cosmetologists due to increased demand.
The BLS indicates that Florida is home to three of the nation’s metropolitan areas with the highest concentration of hairdresser, hairstylist, and cosmetology jobs—Sebastian-Vero Beach, Homosassa Springs, and Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island. Most job listings on Indeed.com in Florida are in Miami, Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, and Ft. Lauderdale.
The chart below shows some of the top-paying metropolitan areas for cosmetologists in Florida:
|Area||2020 Median Salary|
|Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, FL||$37,110|
|North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL||$36,940|
|Cape Coral-Fort Meyers, FL||$35,840|
|Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL||$35,200|
|Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL||$30,220|
|Sebastian-Vero Beach, FL||$30,100|
|Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL||$29,860|
|Punta Gorda, FL||$29,280|
Table information sourced from O*Net (2022).
Florida Cosmetology License Requirements
So, what’s involved in earning a Florida cosmetology license? First, you must be at least 16 years old and have earned a high school diploma. Next, you must enroll in one of the approved cosmetology programs in Florida and complete at least 1,200 hours of training. Following that, you need to take the licensing exam.
The licensing exam consists of two parts: written theory and written clinical. The written theory exam takes 90 minutes to complete and consists of 65 multiple-choice questions covering:
- General safety and sanitation
- Client services
- Manicuring and pedicuring
- Facials, makeup, and hair removal
- Professional/legal and ethical/laws and rules.
The written clinical portion is also 90 minutes and includes 65 multiple-choice questions about specific cosmetology techniques:
- Hair coloring and lightening
- Permanent waving and chemical relaxing
- Scalp and hair care
- Hair cutting and shaping
Applicants must pass both portions of the exam within two years from the date of the first attempt. License applicants also have to complete a four-hour HIV/AIDS course during their schooling and present a certificate verifying this within two years of applying.
Once these are complete, you’ll need to submit a completed license application (online or by mail), along with proof of your HIV/AIDS training, a Graduate Certification Form, and the required fee of $63.50. The state of Florida does allow applicants to apply for a fee waiver if you are a military servicemember or veteran or qualifying spouse, member of the Florida National Guard, or low-income.
Cosmetologists currently licensed in other states need not take the exam or meet Florida’s education requirements; they can simply apply for a license. However, the state doesn’t accept work experience alone (without a license) or apprenticeships. Applicants must complete a four-hour HIV/AIDS course before applying for licensure by state endorsement.
Accreditation and State Approval for Cosmetology Schools
Accreditation is a process in which an objective third-party agency reviews a school’s educational performance to ensure it meets standards for quality and rigor. The process can take up to two years or more and is costly. However, it’s worthwhile for the school, as it communicates to students that their education will meet the needs of the industry and the standards of financial aid bodies that award funds.
According to the AACS, there are four accrediting agencies specifically for the cosmetology industry: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), The Council on Occupational Education (COE), Middle States Association of Colleges, Commissions on Elementary & Secondary Schools (MSA-CESS), and National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences (NACCAS).
These agencies accredit different cosmetology schools in Florida. For example, the American Institute of Beauty, Aveda Institute, Bene’s Career Academy, Celebrity School of Beauty, and certain Paul Mitchell campuses are accredited by NACCAS, while ACCSC accredits Daytona College, Hollywood Institute, and other Paul Mitchell campuses.
The important thing is to verify whether any program you consider is accredited or else approved by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) to provide beauty education in the state. (To verify if a school can offer beauty programs for licensure in Florida, use the DBPR search online and look for “Approved School Registration.”) If it isn’t, future employers, academic programs, licensing bodies, and financial aid sources may not recognize your program, which could mean you can’t work in the field even if you have paid tuition and graduated.
Browse All Cosmetology Schools in Florida
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3665 East Bay Drive Suite 164
Largo, FL 33771
2800 34th Street North
St Petersburg, FL 33713
744 Northeast 125th Street
Biscayne Park, FL 33161
7820 Glades Road
Boca Raton, FL 33434
7329 North State Road 7
Parkland, FL 33073
425 South Nova Road
Ormond Beach, FL 32174
1200 West International Speedway Boulevard
Daytona Beach, FL 32114
10083 East Adamo Drive
Tampa, FL 33619
4258 Okeechobee Boulevard
West Palm Beach, FL 33409
1271 Semoran Boulevard
Casselberry, FL 32707
7587-7599 South Dixie Highway
West Palm Beach, FL 33405
1901 North Federal Highway Unit 201
Pompano Beach, FL 33062
3679 West Waters Avenue
Tampa, FL 33614
3244 Lithia Pinecrest Road
Valrico, FL 33594
Aveda Institute Jacksonville – Accredited
Jacksonville, FL 32257
Charr-Nix's New Generation School of Beauty – Accredited
Vero Beach, FL 32966
Florida Academy of Health & Beauty – Accredited
Oakland Park, FL 33311
Miami Lakes Educational Center and Technical College – Accredited
Miami Lakes, FL 33014
New Concept Massage and Beauty School – Accredited
Miami, FL 33175
Paul Mitchell The School Fort Lauderdale – Accredited
Plantation, FL 33388
Paul Mitchell The School Jacksonville – Accredited
Jacksonville, FL 32246
Prestige Health & Beauty Sciences Academy – Accredited
Hallandale Beach, FL 33009
Miami, FL 33177
The Salon Professional Academy – Accredited
Melbourne, FL 32904
You must attend a school that is approved by your state to provide training in the discipline you want to practice. Check with the school and the state board to be sure that your program of study will prepare you for any applicable state licensure.
Find Cosmetology Schools Near Me
Additional Education and Career Resources
Florida Board of Cosmetology
This site is the home of valuable information about cosmetology programs, licenses, continuing education, and professional standards in Florida.
Professional Beauty Association
This professional association connects members with valuable resources, networking connections, education, and information to support their professional growth. The website also provides information on scholarships for future cosmetology students.
Association of Cosmetology Salon Professionals
The ACSP supports professionals in the cosmetology, esthetics, and nail industries through school and student competitions, conventions for learning and networking, continuing education offerings, and more.
Shop Talk podcast
This podcast for the beauty industry, hairstylists, and salon/spa owners is an educational resource, providing useful information for cosmetology students or budding cosmetologists that can help in their careers. Episodes offer tips and inspiration for growing your cosmetology business, business advice (such as the difference between an LLC and an S-Corp), and stories from successful beauty pros.
The Beauty Look Book
This blog is run by Sabrina, a Florida-based influencer who shares tips and insights about her favorite beauty products and looks and tips for travel in Florida, and product reviews. She currently has 107,000 followers on Instagram.
This magazine for the northern Palm Beaches is the winner of multiple awards by the Florida Magazine Association. Its style section features stories on great area beauty finds, local fashion trends, profiles of stores and designers, and more.
This popular Instagram account showcases hairstylist Kaitlyn’s artistic style. Ready to learn her tricks? She also offers Florida-based Blonding Bootcamps for cosmetologists looking to upskill.
How to Become a Cosmetologist in Your State
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia