Cosmetologist Training Programs and Requirements

Cosmetologists offer styling and treatments for skin, hair and nails. Cosmetologists work in spas or salons, or might be self-employed. Completion of an educational program in cosmetology and fulfillment of state licensing requirements are typically needed to become a cosmetologist.

Training Requirements and Recommendations

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), cosmetologists must graduate from a 1- or 2-year program. The BLS also reports that the school in which an aspiring cosmetologist attends must be state-licensed. Cosmetologists must pass a licensing examination administered by a state board of cosmetology.

Formal Education

Aspiring cosmetologists can enroll in certificate or degree programs at cosmetology schools or community colleges throughout the United States. These schools offer associate degrees and, more commonly, certificate programs in cosmetology. These programs prepare students for state licensing exams and provide them with the styling and business skills needed to work in a salon, spa or other personal care establishments. In many cases, a formal education in cosmetology is needed in order to obtain the state-required licensure.

Certificate Program

Cosmetologist training certificate programs typically offer students the opportunity to train in a salon setting, as well as instruction on the art and science of skin, hair and nail. Courses address haircutting, hairstyling, manicuring, scalp treatments and facials. Many certificate programs offer training in cosmetology specialties, like nail technology and esthetics, which may require supplementary licensure exams.

Associate's Degree Program

A 2-year program in cosmetology leads to an Associate of Science (AS) or Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree. In addition to cosmetology concepts and procedures, topics addressed in an associate's degree curriculum will include marketing, management and business. An associate's degree will generally prepare cosmetologists to operate their own salon or become a cosmetology instructor.

Job Experience

Some school programs provide an internship opportunity in which students work at local salons. Students might work part-time in a salon on weekends or during the evenings while attending school. Working as a shampooer or assistant in a salon or other establishment can can held students build professional experience.

Licenses and Certifications

The BLS reports that every state requires cosmetologists to hold a license While requirements may vary from state to state, applicants must typically complete an educational program, pay a required fee and pass state board examinations to become a licensed cosmetologist. Continuing education requirements, which also vary from one state to another, must be met in order to maintain licensure.

Workshops and Seminars

In many states, licensed cosmetologists must attend workshops and seminars to fulfill continuing education requirements. Workshops and seminars are held at several community colleges across the U.S. Participants are introduced to new styles, concepts and designs in cosmetology.

Some seminars are designed specifically for cosmetology instructors. In these types of seminars, participants learn different teaching methods and techniques.

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