Going To Cosmetology School Without A High School Diploma

Cosmetology is a field that allows you to be creative while helping people feel their best. It can be a good career for many, but if you've had trouble finishing high school, can you possibly become a cosmetologist? The answer is that yes, you can. There are a couple of ways you can attend cosmetology school even if you don't have a high school diploma. 

What States Require

Most states require that you have a high school diploma or the equivalent to attend higher education, including beauty schools. Thanks to this requirement, many schools require the same, even if they are not located in a state that requires a diploma to attend higher education.  For example, the state of Montana requires a high school diploma or GED to attend a beauty school but Illinois does not. It's important to check your state's requirements before applying to a school, but you should assume you'd need a high school level education to attend.


The GED, which stands for General Educational Development or General Education Diploma. This is a set of five tests that you can take to prove you have a high school level of education. Once you pass all five tests, you are given the GED certificate. This is enough for you to enter beauty school without having gone through a regular high school education.


If you don't have a GED or are having trouble obtaining one before you apply for cosmetology school, you may still be accepted to a school. You may be able to find a school that will allow you to enroll on a provisional basis. This means you can attend beauty school and work towards a diploma as long as you are also working towards a GED. If you don't obtain the GED, then you won't get the diploma from the beauty school either.

Ability to Benefit

Sometimes, a student has to leave school and the road to getting a GED is going to be a very long one. This could be because the student is an immigrant, had an extended illness, or other extenuating circumstances. In this case, there are some schools that will allow you take what is called the "Ability to Benefit" test. This test allows you to prove that you will be able to learn what is needed in order to graduate in a classroom environment. If you pass, then the school may waive the requirements for a high school diploma or GED.

It's always a good idea to have your high school diploma or a GED before applying to any beauty school, but there are ways to get around it if needed. Check with your preferred schools to find out what the entrance requirements are so you can have the career you want.