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How Can I Become a Professional Hair Instructor?

Professional hair instructors teach aspiring cosmetologist and hair stylists. Learn how to take on a teaching role in the hairstyling field, and review the licensure requirements and earning potential for this career.

What Is a Professional Hair Instructor?

Professional hair instructors, also known as cosmetology instructors, teach courses that prepare students to get their cosmetology licenses. They provide instruction in a wide range of hair-related subjects, such as hair cutting and hair styling, as well as other spa treatments, such as skin care procedures and makeup application. Cosmetology instructors may also offer courses in business topics such as marketing, salon management or customer service.

Degree Required Some positions require a high school diploma
Education RequiredState-approved cosmotology program
Key ResponsibilitiesProvide instruction to hairdressers; service cliental using appropriate tools
Licensure Requirements State licensing exam
Job Growth (2018-2028)* 8% (for all barbers, hairdressers, cosmetologists)
Median Salary (2019)** $39,713 (for all cosmetology instructors)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; **PayScale

Get Your Professional Hair Instructor Degree

Nearly all professional hair instructors have first been hair stylists or cosmetologists. Therefore, your initial step towards being an instructor is to first be a student. Cosmetology certificate programs teach you how to cut all sorts and styles of hair while also teaching you the art and science of facial skin care and makeup, manicures and pedicures and sanitation and customer safety.

After you have your cosmetology certificate, you'll be ready to pursue an associate's degree or certificate in cosmetology education or cosmetology instruction. Cosmetology education programs teach you the theory and practice of cosmetology pedagogy. You'll learn how to devise lesson plans and develop evaluation instruments while you study the latest in hair and skin care. Upon completing this program, you should be ready to sit for the state licensing exam in order to obtain your cosmetology instructor license.

Get Certified

All states require cosmetologists, hair stylists and cosmetology instructors to be licensed. This licensing process varies by state but generally includes completion of an accredited education program along with successful completion of technical and practical exams. Some states require periodic license renewal.

The National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences (NACCAS) is a non-profit trade organization that has more information on accredited educational programs as well as offering workshops and networking opportunities (www.naccas.org). Once you complete the instructor certification process, you'll be eligible to seek teaching positions at vocational schools, private institutions and colleges.

What Can I Expect to Earn?

According to Paycale.com, the median salary for cosmetology instructors was $39,713, as of 2019. Your exact salary will depend on a number of factors, including the size and location of your learning institution and your level of experience. As with most fields, more education and experience should equate to more employment and advancement opportunities.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Instead of teaching courses to prepare aspiring hair professionals for jobs as cosmetologists, you could become an educator for individuals who want to become estheticians. Unlike broader cosmetology training programs, these programs focus specifically on skincare, so you would teach courses on topics like waxing, laser treatments and different types of cleansers. Like cosmetology instructors, esthetician instructors must complete a professional training program.

An even more specific position within the field of cosmetology is as a manicurist or pedicurist. They provide beauty treatments only to a client's hands and feet. Like hair instructors, these positions require completion of a state-approved cosmetology or nail technician program.