Certificate and diploma programs in cosmetology or barbering provide students with the fundamentals of hair styling, sanitation and chemical treatments. Students receive instruction in hair technology theory and practical application. Internships or apprenticeships may be required, and online courses are often available.
Upon completion of the program, graduates earn a Certificate of Achievement, Certificate of Completion or Technical Diploma. Although the process directly prepares hair stylists to take state licensing exams, successful completion of a certificate or diploma program does not equate to certification or licensure. Individuals must obtain a cosmetology or barber license from the state in which they plan to practice hair styling.
Successful stylists possess excellent manual dexterity, artistic talent, a personable demeanor, good listening skills and effective speaking skills.
Hair Stylist Certificate and Diploma Programs
Program curricula typically take 12-18 months to complete. Students hone the ability to visualize hair styles and follow through with their implementation. Hands-on experience is gained by working on mannequins and other students in a simulated environment. Instruction may also include hair bleaching, nail care, hygiene, skin care and scalp treatments. Courses may include:
- Advanced hair styling
- Men's hair styles
- Cosmetology theory
- Basic business management
- Hair color treatments
- Permanent treatments
- Chemical relaxing
- Hair tinting
Continuing Education Information
Hair stylists seeking to further their beauty and business skills may pursue an associate's degree in cosmetology. Those who wish to open a hair styling salon or barber shop may consider a certificate or college degree in business management. Certification training programs are also available for aspiring instructors and salon managers.
State Licensure Requirements
Licensing requirements vary from state to state, but most candidates are expected to have high school diplomas or GEDs. Some states require individuals to complete hair stylist programs from accredited colleges or technical schools. Upon program completion, graduates are eligible to take written state licensing exams.
Additional state licensing requirements may include completing a set number of apprenticeship hours, an oral exam and a practical skills test. Continuing education hours may be required by some states to maintain licensure.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job prospects for hair stylists are expected to grow at a rate of 10% during the 2014-2024 decade, though positions a high-paying salons are expected to remain competitive. The BLS reported that the annual mean wage for hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists was $28,770 as of May 2015. Entry-level positions typically merit lower annual salaries.
Several cosmetology or barbering certificate and diploma program options exist for aspiring stylists. In these programs, students learn through hands-on salon experience and classroom training. Upon completing the program, graduates are prepared to take state licensing exams, which are required to work as a professional hair stylist.