Online Cosmetology Certification Programs

Cosmetology certification programs explore areas of beauty that include skin treatments, hair styling and make-up design. Learn about course topics, licensure requirements and the employment outlook for cosmetologists. Schools offering Culinary Arts degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Levels of Study are Offered in Cosmetology Certification Programs?

Cosmetology may be offered as a diploma, certificate or associate degree program. The associate degree program is typically the highest level offered to cosmetology students and can be earned in two years if you're a full time student. Cosmetology may be offered in evening or part-time classes, but because the training requires hands-on learning, cosmetology programs are rarely offered online. Examples of associate degrees you may earn include an associate's degree in general technology with a cosmetic science option or an Associate in Technical Arts degree.

Degree LevelsDiploma, certificate, associate
Licensure RequirementsHigh school graduate, successful completion of cosmetology program, additional requirements by state
Topics of StudyCommunication skills, product knowledge, salon safety: electricity & chemicals, dermatology, onychology
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)10% (according to the BLS)

How Do I Earn My License?

Cosmetology programs are typically a combination of theory and practice. Once you've completed your designated number or hours of coursework as well as an internship or hands-on learning, you'll be eligible to take the cosmetology licensing examination for your state. This exam may be a written, oral, or practical test of skills or a combination of all three. You may be required to renew your license periodically. Application for renewal may be completed online.

States may differ in their licensure requirements, but most states require you to be a high school graduate or equivalent in addition to having successfully completed your cosmetology program. Because of the different requirements per state, you may want to check the laws in other states before you choose a cosmetology program, especially if you plan on working in another state. For instance, if you are applying for a cosmetology license in Florida, you must take an HIV/AIDS pre-licensing training course.

What Will I Learn?

Your coursework will provide you with a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on fundamentals of cosmetology, including chemical processes, professional imaging, nail and skin care, product knowledge and computer/business practices. Your coursework may vary slightly depending on whether you're in a diploma, certificate or associate degree program, but typical topics of study include:

  • Basic concepts in cosmetology I thru IV
  • Salon principles I thru IV
  • Communication skills
  • Product knowledge
  • Salon safety: electricity & chemicals
  • Practical lab skills
  • Intro to dermatology
  • Intro to onychology (the study of nails)

What Type of Career Can I Expect?

Cosmetology is a field that includes various specialties, including hair design, nail care, chemical processes, skin care and professional imaging. Once you successfully complete your program and have your cosmetology license, you'll have many employment opportunities, including hair stylist, skin care specialist, nail care technician, make-up artist or beauty supply representative.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of cosmetologists is expected to grow 10% between 2014 and 2024. This increased growth is due to a demand for cosmetologists for popular services, such as artificial nails, hair extensions, hair coloring, waxing and permanent waving (www.bls.gov).

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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