Cosmetology Instructor Job Description and Career Options

Cosmetology instructors require some formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and licensure requirements to see if teaching cosmetology is the right career for you.

Essential Information

A cosmetology instructor is trained to teach a variety of skills used by hairstylists, manicurists, make-up artists and other workers in the beauty industry. They teach in junior and community colleges, cosmetology schools, and vocational and technical schools. After graduating from a cosmetology program and earning cosmetologist licensure, aspiring instructors must complete a cosmetology instructor training program to enter this career field. Some states have additional licensing requirements for instructors.

Required EducationCosmetology instructor program, which often leads to a certificate
Other Requirements Work experience as a cosmetologist
Licensure Cosmetologist license required; cosmetology instructor license also required in some states
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)* 12% for all postsecondary vocational education teachers, 13% for all cosmetologists, hairdressers and hairstylists
Median Salary (2013)* $48,300 for all postsecondary vocational education teachers, $23,140 for all cosmetologists, hairdressers and hairstylists

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description of a Cosmetology Instructor

A cosmetology instructor teaches a variety of courses in nail technology, hair styling and other beautifying arts. Instructors typically teach in 2-year colleges and cosmetology schools. Record keeping is a vital part of a cosmetology instructor's routine, both in teaching and in managing a cosmetology practice. Cosmetology instructors also teach business skills, such as management and marketing, since cosmetologists often run their own businesses.

Education Requirements

Cosmetology instructors usually begin their careers as licensed cosmetologists or beauticians and then take further coursework to enter a career in education. A cosmetology license and six months to two years of field experience are common prerequisites for admission to an instructor training or a certificate program. Coursework typically includes teaching methods and theories and evaluation techniques. A typical cosmetology instructor certificate program takes about a year to complete, depending on the program and the school.

Licensing and Certification

All states require cosmetologists to be licensed, and some states require additional licensure for cosmetology instructors. Typical requirements include two years of on-the-job experience or 1,000 hours of training at an approved cosmetology arts and science school. Most license exams are administered by the National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology (NIC), with prerequisites varying depending on the state in which the cosmetology instructor wishes to practice ( Once employed, cosmetologists often need eight hours of continuing education credits per year to maintain their licenses.

Career Options

With teaching experience, a cosmetology instructor may advance to the position of education director at a cosmetology school. An education director is in charge of a school's entire instructional program and may also be responsible for business and enrollment concerns. Another career option for a cosmetology instructor is to become a platform artist and educator, teaching and demonstrating the latest beauty techniques and styles at trade shows and other venues.

A cosmetology instructor may choose to go into a related occupation, such as fashion consulting or salon product sales. Some even take positions as examiners for state cosmetology licensing boards. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for postsecondary vocational education teachers, including cosmetology instructors, should be average, with expected growth of 12% from 2012-2022. Jobs for cosmetologists, along with hairdressers and hairstylists, should grow by 13% in that same decade, per the BLS.

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