Cosmetologist Training Programs and Requirements

Completion of a certificate or associate's degree educational program in cosmetology and fulfillment of state licensing requirements is typically needed to become a cosmetologist. Some programs are designed to allow students to focus on particular areas of cosmetology.

Essential Information

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, which must be completed to work in every state, and provide them with the styling and business skills needed to work in a salon, spa or other personal care establishments.

  • Program Levels in Cosmetology: Certificate and associate's degree programs are available
  • Some Program Specializations: Nail technology and esthetics may be offered as specializations
  • Program Length: Programs may take one to two years to complete
  • Other Requirements: Internships are required in some programs

Cosmetology 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. Many certificate programs offer training in cosmetology specialties, like nail technology and esthetics, which may require supplementary licensure exams. Courses within the standard certificate program may include:

  • Haircutting and hairstyling
  • Manicuring
  • Scalp treatments
  • Facials

Associate's Degree Program in Cosmetology

A 2-year program in cosmetology leads to an Associate of Science (AS) or Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree. Some school programs provide an internship opportunity in which students work at local salons on weekends or during the evenings while attending school, allowing students to build professional experience.

An associate's degree will generally prepare cosmetologists to operate their own salon or become a cosmetology instructor. In addition to cosmetology concepts and procedures, courses offered in an associate's degree curriculum will include:

  • Marketing
  • Management
  • Business

Continuing Education

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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