Cosmetology Associate's Degree Programs

Associate's degree programs in cosmetology provide training in hair, nail and skin care, as well as business fundamentals. Learn about the courses found in this degree program as well as employment and licensure information for cosmetologists.

What Is a Cosmetology Associate's Degree Program Like?

Cosmetology associate's degree programs provide education in beauty treatments, business principles and chemistry basics. It takes about two years to finish an associate's degree program, during which time you hone your skills through hands-on practice and receive feedback from teachers who observe you while you work. Often, cosmetology schools simulate salons, and in many cases you practice on real clients.

Program Overview Programs take around two years to complete and involve in-person practice with instructor feedback, sometimes on real clients
Course Topics Hair styling, cutting and coloring; makeup application; sanitation laws and customer service
Program Availability Community colleges, technical schools, for-profit institutions and salons may offer these programs
Licensure All states require licensure with varying requirements, which an associate's degree typically prepares you for
Median Annual Salary (May 2018)* $71,680 (for all Barbers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists)
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 13% (for all Barbers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Courses Will I Take?

In a cosmetology associate's degree program, you take courses in hair cutting, styling and coloring. Makeup courses cover application techniques and product selection. Other courses cover manicures and pedicures. You also learn how to recognize skin problems and perform facial and massage treatments.

Additionally, you learn about sanitation laws and regulations as well as customer service. Business courses teach you about the procedures and laws surrounding salon operations; you gain an understanding of basic accounting and management techniques, usually tailored to cosmetology businesses.

Where Can I Find a Program?

Cosmetology associate's degree programs are typically offered by community colleges and technical schools located all over the U.S. For-profit institutions also operate cosmetology programs. Some professional salons and cosmetology companies train students, too, although you probably won't earn an associate's degree. Cosmetology associate's degree programs tend to be campus-based and are not generally available online.

How Do I Get Licensed?

An associate's degree program in cosmetology can prepare you for state licensure. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), cosmetologists in every state must obtain a license, though each state has its own requirements. In order to sit for your state's exam, you must graduate from a state-licensed cosmetology program. You'll need to pass a written exam, and some states require an oral exam or a skills test as well.