Cosmetology And Esthetics Accreditation
Accreditation is a form of independent, professional certification that focuses on schools and programs in a particular field. Accreditation of cosmetology and esthetics schools and programs therefore assures you and your parents that the school adheres to high quality standards--an important fact when it comes to programs dealing with personal services. Accreditation ensures that the programs are delivered by qualified faculty and are constantly updated to follow the changes and meet the needs of the industry. Attending an accredited school or program is often thought to make you more competitive on the job market and may be a factor in your ability to qualify for certain financial aid.
Accreditation in the US takes place at different levels. First you have governmental and other agencies that govern and recognize the accrediting bodies. The US Department of Education, the Council for Higher Education Association (CHEA) and the Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors (ASPA) grant power to associations that oversee accreditation at the regional, state, institutional or program level.
As well, some state agencies have been recognized by the US Secretary of Education as authorities on the quality of vocational education in their respective states. For example the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation, Oklahoma Board of Career and Technology Education, and Pennsylvania State Board of Vocational Education.
Licensing, Membership, Certification and Affiliations
When assessing quality, you can also look at whether a school or program has any memberships in, or affiliations with, professional associations. Examples may be the American Association of Cosmetology Schools (AACS), the International Chain Salon Association (ICSA) and the school's local Chamber of Commerce. These association affiliations reflect a school's commitment to certain standards of quality, but this is not the same as official accreditation. Schools may also be certified by professional associations, such as the National Coalition of Estheticians, Manufacturers/Distributors and Associations (NCEA), so you can look for NCEA approved training facilites. As well, cosmetology and esthetics practitioners receive state licensure as individuals, and when checking a school's credentials, don't forget to check whether the instructors are professionally licensed.
Specialized Accrediting Agencies
National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences (NACCAS)
Location: Alexandria, Virginia
Scope: NACCAS accredits postsecondary schools and departments of cosmetology arts and sciences, including specialized schools. It presently accredits approximately 1,300 institutions which serve over 120,000 students.
Private Career College Accrediting Agencies
Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS)
Location: Washington, DC
Scope: Accreditation of US private postsecondary institutions offering certificates, diplomas, associate's, bachelor's, or master's degrees in professional, technical, or occupational programs.
Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT)
Location: Arlington, Virginia
Scope: Accreditation of private, postsecondary, institutions in the US that are focused on occupational, trade and technical career education.
Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training
Location: Washington, DC
Scope: Accreditation of US institutions of higher education offering vocational and continuing education leading to certificates or occupational associate's degrees.
Council on Occupational Education
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Web address: www.council.org
Scope: Accreditation and pre-accreditation ("Candidacy Status") of occupational education postsecondary institutions offering non-degree and applied associate's degree programs in specific career and technical fields.
The goal of accreditation is to ensure that education provided by institutions of higher education meets acceptable levels of quality. Accrediting agencies have no legal control over institutions or programs; they promote certain standards and approve or renew membership of institutions that apply and meet the accreditation standards or criteria. Certain licensing programs may require that you've been through a course of study with specialized accreditation, because it ensures that you have been taught by faculty qualified to teach in that field. The US Secretary of Education and CHEA each maintain and publish a list of nationally recognized accrediting agencies, and most institutions attain eligibility for Federal funds by holding accredited or pre-accredited status with one of the recognized accrediting agencies.
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