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Hair Stylist Certification and Diploma Program Information

Learn about certificate and diploma programs for aspiring hair stylists. Check the educational prerequisites and typical coursework in these programs. Get info about the employment outlook for hair stylists, as well as state licensure requirements.

Essential Information

Hair stylists maintain many types of hair and work with both men and women. Successful stylists possess excellent manual dexterity, artistic talent, a personable demeanor, good listening skills and effective speaking skills. All states require that hair stylists be licensed prior to practicing, though certification standards vary. Community colleges and technical schools offer certificate and diploma programs in cosmetology or barbering. These programs provide students with the fundamentals of hair styling, sanitation and chemical treatments. Students receive instruction in hair technology theory and practical application.

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. Additionally, an externship or apprenticeship at a licensed salon or barber shop may be required. Upon completion, 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.

Education Prerequisites

A high school diploma or GED is required to enroll in a hair stylist certificate or diploma program at most technical schools and colleges. Cosmetology schools may not share such requirements. Standardized test scores, such as the SAT or ACT, are not required for certificate or diploma programs.

Program Coursework

Program curriculum typically takes 12-18 months to complete. Students hone the ability to visualize hair styles and follow through with their implementation. 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 good; however, positions are very competitive. The BLS reported the annual mean wage for hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists was $26,790 as of May 2012. Entry-level positions typically merit lower annual salaries.

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