Cosmetology Instructor Certification: Certificate Program Overview

Sep 18, 2019

Certification or licensure is a required credential for cosmetology instructors. Get some quick facts about the education, training and experience necessary to qualify for cosmetology instructor certification.

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If you're a licensed cosmetologist with a knack for teaching and want to advance your career then perhaps becoming a cosmetology instructor is right for you. To receive certification, you must complete a state-approved education program with a set number of lecture and practical experience hours.

Essential Information

Becoming a cosmetology instructor is one way for a cosmetologist to advance his or her career. To become an instructor, a cosmetologist must complete a training program that leads to licensure, sometimes called certification. Qualifications vary by state, but always include a set number of education and experience hours. Training programs usually include coursework in teaching methods, curriculum development and working with students.

Required Education Varies by state; completion of a certificate program or an apprenticeship and continuing education units
Required Skills Cosmetology, teaching methods, curriculum development, student evaluation
Exam Requirements Varies by state; written and practical exams may be required
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) * -3% for all postsecondary vocational education teachers
Median Annual Salary (2018)* $53,120 for all postsecondary vocational education teachers

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics*

Cosmetology Instructor Certification

A cosmetology instructor must be licensed, though some training programs are referred to as certification programs rather than licensure programs. Candidates must already be licensed, practicing cosmetologists who go on to learn education strategies and practical teaching skills. They must also have a high school diploma or its equivalent. Education beyond cosmetology school is necessary; aspiring cosmetology instructors need to complete a training program to qualify specifically for the cosmetology instructor certification exam, the characteristics of which vary by state. Some jurisdictions also honor certification transferences across state lines.

Certificate Program

The amount of time it takes to complete a training program varies by state, but students often complete 1,000 hours or more of both classroom education and supervised instruction to receive a certificate and qualify for state licensure exams. Some states accept participation in apprenticeship programs to cover these practical hours, while others do not. Courses typically cover communication, assessment and cosmetology. These topics are exercised through written and oral lessons as well as participation in practical labs, which are also known as contact hours.

Skills Obtained

Students obtain classroom skills that go beyond basic cosmetology practices and knowledge. In addition to being able to perform standard cosmetology procedures, such as hair styling and manicures, aspiring cosmetology instructors must also be proficient in:

  • Curriculum development
  • Teaching methods
  • Pedagogical theory
  • Student evaluation

Career and Salary Information

Licensed cosmetology instructors are eligible for hire at state-licensed vocational, proprietary and technical schools. They must usually take continuing education courses every two years to maintain licensure. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (, the median salary for a postsecondary vocational school instructor was $53,120 as of May 2018.

Cosmetology instructor certificate programs prepare students to earn certification to teach others about hair styling, skin care and/or nail care. These training programs typically include around 1,000 hours of both hands-on training and classroom education.

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