How Do I Become a Cosmetology Instructor?

Research what it takes to become a cosmetology instructor. Learn about the education requirements, salary, job outlook and licensure to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Nail Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Cosmetology Instructor?

Cosmetology instructors teach students who intend to work in the beauty industry, training them until they can get their cosmetology licenses. Cosmetology instructors need to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and techniques in beauty and grooming in order to educate their students effectively. They need strong communication skills, good management abilities and to be able to transmit information through hands-on learning. They also need to have good customer service skills and know how to pass on these techniques to their students. As cosmetologists need a license in order to practice, cosmetology instructors also need to ensure that their teaching methods are in line with standard field regulations.

Find out about the training and skills you'll need, see state licensing requirements, and get information on salaries for cosmetology instructors in the following table:

Education Required State-approved cosmetology program, then cosmetology instructor program
Training Required Experience in the field
Education Field of Study Cosmetology, cosmetology instructor
Key Responsibilities Prepare students for licensing examination; teach techniques for cutting, coloring and styling hair and applying make-up; pass along current beauty trends
Licensure All states require cosmetologists to be licensed
Job Growth (2018-2028) 8% (for all cosmetologists)*
Median Salary (2019) $39,713**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **

What Will I Do as a Cosmetology Instructor?

Cosmetology instructors are responsible for teaching students the skills needed to work in the beauty industry. You might find a position within a vocational school, community college or beauty school; you'll teach courses related to hairstyling, esthetics and manicuring.

You must have a strong interest in cosmetology and experience in the field before you can become a cosmetology instructor. You should also be interested in teaching others and passing on industry knowledge. You'll probably need to keep track of current trends and technologies in the cosmetology industry so they can be incorporated into your coursework. It's your responsibility to ensure that students have the skills and knowledge they will need to pass state licensing examinations in cosmetology.

What Education and Training Will I Need?

If you're interested in becoming a cosmetology instructor, you may need to first attend cosmetology school and gain licensure as a hair stylist, manicurist or esthetician. You could learn the basics of cosmetology through a state-approved certificate or associate's degree program. Once you've completed your required educational program, you can gain licensure as a cosmetologist.

After becoming a licensed cosmetologist and gaining experience in the field, you might consider enrolling in an educational program for cosmetology instructors. A cosmetology instructor training program might be offered through a community college or beauty school. Some programs result in a certificate of completion.

Each state has its own specific educational requirements for aspiring cosmetology instructors, but most will expect you to complete between 300 and 500 clock hours of classroom and hands-on training. You'll learn the basics of teaching theory, lesson plan creation, classroom management, lecturing and salon management.

Do I Need Licensure to Teach?

You'll need to be licensed in order to work as a cosmetology instructor. This will be required in addition to your licensure as a cosmetologist. You can apply for licensure once you've completed a state-approved cosmetology instructor training program. Completion of a licensing exam and payment of a licensing fee may also be required.

What Salary Could I Expect to Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not report data for cosmetology instructors. However, according to November 2019 data from, the median annual salary for cosmetology instructors was $39,713.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Most cosmetology instructors may well work as cosmetologists themselves, but there are other similar careers within the field that may also be of interest. You may want to become a hairdresser, focusing purely on a customer's hairstyle. As a hairdresser, you may help someone redesign their look or simply maintain a particular style. Hairdressers are also required to gain licensure before they can work. Another option is to work as a manicurist or pedicurist, providing spa-like treatments for people's hands and feet and decorating their nails with interesting colours and designs. These professionals also need to comply with state licensing regulations and can gain their education through postsecondary nondegree awards.

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:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Penn Foster High School

    Penn Foster High School responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Penn Foster High School:

    Online Programs Available

  • Woodward Beauty College

    Campus Locations:

    • Oklahoma: Woodward
  • Western Technology Center

    Campus Locations:

    • Oklahoma: Burns Flat
  • West Michigan College of Barbering and Beauty

    Campus Locations:

    • Michigan: Kalamazoo
  • Weatherford College

    Campus Locations:

    • Texas: Weatherford
  • Waynesville Career Center

    Campus Locations:

    • Missouri: Waynesville
  • Vogue Beauty and Barber School

    Campus Locations:

    • Georgia: Hiram
  • Vincennes Beauty College

    Campus Locations:

    • Indiana: Vincennes
  • American Career College

    Campus Locations:

    • Illinois: Berwyn
  • Victoria's Academy of Cosmetology

    Campus Locations:

    • Washington: Kennewick