How Do I Become a Cosmetologist?

Learn what it takes to become a cosmetologist. Read about education and licensing requirements, salary and job growth to see if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Culinary Arts degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information at a Glance

Cosmetologists help people look and feel their best through a range of personal care services including hair design, skin care and makeup analysis. The following chart gives you an overview of this career.

Degree Required High school diploma
Training Required State-approved cosmetology program
Key Skills Creativity, customer service, time management, business skills
Licensure Required State license
Job Growth (2012-2022) 13%*
Median Salary (2013) $23,140*

Source: *U.S.Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Do I Study to Become a Cosmetologist?

Many beauty schools and community colleges offer programs in cosmetology. Associate degree programs are common and train you in many aspects of cosmetology. These programs generally consist of salon practice, giving you essential hands-on experience. Instructors are then able to observe your work and offer guidance and correction. While cosmetologists usually work with hair and hair care, you'll also spend time studying nails, chemical peels and skin care. Some of the other subjects you'll study during your matriculation may include:

  • Customer Relations
  • Computer Basics
  • Business Management
  • Hair Design
  • Hair Color
  • Salon Safety
  • Cosmetology Concepts

Where Should I Seek Certification?

The Beauty Schools Directory has information pertaining to each state's licensing requirements ( Links for each state lead you to the work requirements and includes an additional link to each state's board of cosmetology. Requirements vary by state, but you'll need to complete a certain number of practice hours in the specific specialty you want to be licensed in, such as cosmetology or hairdressing. Multiple specialties may be allowed.

What Skills Will Be Beneficial?

You'll want to be personable and have good communication skills to understand the needs and wants of clients. Customer service skills are needed when you schedule appointments, sell products and encourage additional services. Business skills can help you become a salon manager or operate your own business. You should also understand finance, so you can manage your own business, make change and operate cash registers. Creativity is a skill that is beneficial for creating new styles. Analytical skills allow you to look at clients and distinguish what style may look best with their face shape and which hair dyes will match skin tone.

Should I Continue My Education?

You should continue courses or seminars in your specialty. This enables you to learn new techniques and styles as times and fashions change. By taking courses in another specialty, you may increase your marketability. Online classes can be helpful in this regard. Becoming licensed in another specialty may increase your career opportunities.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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