Cosmetology and esthetics are two slightly different fields within the beauty realm. Cosmetology training involves the study of beauty treatments, typically focusing on hair but also discussing nails and skin care. Esthetician training provides an in-depth focus on skin analysis and treatment including facials, extractions, make-up and massages, as well as the use of esthetician equipment. To be eligible for training, students typically need to be at least 18 years old and may have to meet certain math and reading skill requirements.
Students can find distance learning education options in this field at community colleges and some private career schools. Programs may lead to certificates and diplomas, which take around a year or less to earn, or two-year associate's degrees. Most programs are designed to prepare students for cosmetologist or esthetician state licensure, so in-person training is essential. For that reason, programs may only offer select courses online or follow a hybrid format, which combines campus-based and online learning.
Cosmetology programs are designed to teach students a variety of techniques and applications in beauty treatment in order to help clients acquire a specific look through manipulation of hair, skin and nails. They also learn about providing consultation services to customers.
Distance learning cosmetology programs provide online theory-based courses in the areas of nail and skin care, hair color, diseases, laws and business. Lectures and assignments are provided through Internet-based education management systems. In addition to online coursework, cosmetologists must also complete an average of 1,500 hours of hands-on training at campus-based clinics or in beauty salons.
In addition to cosmetology coursework, distance learners can find esthetician-training programs that feature online classes in anatomy and physiology, business, sanitation and laws. Virtual classrooms available through schools' websites give distance learners access to assignments and lessons. Esthetician programs teach students about the following:
- Chemical peels
Required hours of study vary by state but generally include 600 supervised training hours for a basic license and 1,200 training hours for a master license.
A high school diploma and completion of a state-licensed apprenticeship, certificate or associate's degree program are typically required to sit for state certification exams in the cosmetology and esthetics fields. Examinations consist of both written and practical components. Cosmetologists usually earn a barbering license and need to gain additional credentials to work in nail or skin care. Continuing education may also be required to maintain licensure.
Cosmetologists and estheticians can find employment in beauty salons, day spas and resorts. They may also find employment in residential care facilities. Additionally, estheticians are also qualified for employment in physician and dermatologist offices, hospitals and private practice.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected faster-than-average employment growth of 10% for barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists and 12% for skincare specialists in the 2014-2024 decade (www.bls.gov). The hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists earned an average wage of $28,770, according to 2015 BLS data; skincare specialists made $35,300 on average.
Online programs in cosmetology and esthetics are available in a blended format. Successful program graduates may receive a diploma, certificate or associate's degree.