Cosmetology licenses are issued by state cosmetology boards; licensing requirements state that training programs be completed on-campus and students receive hands-on practice in hair and beauty treatments. As a result, there are no available fully online cosmetology certificate programs. Alternatively, licensed cosmetologists looking to advance their studies can enroll in online programs in business administration, providing instruction in the business aspects of operating a cosmetology business.
Some coursework, such as sanitation, physiology and business, can be completed online in hybrid cosmetology programs. Other courses are entirely practical and require on-campus work. Application requirements typically involve a high school diploma or GED and minimum age requirements. Additionally, applicants must pass a written exam and practical demonstration.
Every state licenses barbers, hair dressers and cosmetologists. Requirements vary, but, generally, applicants must have completed an accredited training program (which usually takes nine months).
Find schools that offer these popular programs
- Aesthetician and Skin Care
- Barber and Hair Cutting Services
- Beauty Salon Management
- Cosmetology, Hair, and Nail Instructor
- Facial Treatment Specialist
- Hair Design
- Make-Up Artist
- Nail Technician - Manicurist
- Permanent Cosmetics and Tattooing
Students enrolled in cosmetology certificate programs must take most of their classes on campus. Some programs offer one or two classes in an online format. Online classes usually last one semester and are offered near the beginning of the certificate program. As online instruction continues to expand, some colleges are trying to get additional distance learning courses approved. However, much of a cosmetology curriculum involves hands-on practice in a salon, which must be completed on-campus.
Students usually need a computer with Internet access and word processing software in order to access online classes. Most online classes utilize course management systems and interactive technologies to facilitate interactions between instructors and students.
List of Commonly Approved Cosmetology Courses
Courses that are approved for online instruction are basic classes that don't involve practical training. Some cosmetology certificate programs require general education credits in basic math, reading and writing; these classes can also be taken online.
Cosmetology Law, Business and Sanitation
All cosmetology students are required to take an introductory course in law, business and sanitation; this course is offered online by some colleges. Students learn about state cosmetology laws and basic sanitation and safety rules.
Anatomy and Physiology for Cosmetologists
Students receive a comprehensive overview of anatomy and physiology as it relates to skin, nail and hair care in an online learning format. Lessons also cover the disorders that can affect nails, skin and hair.
Cosmetologists earned a median hourly wage of $11.38 in 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, the BLS also noted that a number of factors could impact earnings, including experience, potential for bonuses and sales commissions, location and salon size. The BLS reported that over 348,000 hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists were employed in the U.S. in 2015. The number of licensed cosmetologists is projected to increase by 10% from 2014-2024.
Due to the hands-on nature of the field, online cosmetology programs typically follow a hybrid program with significant practical coursework. These programs follow state licensure requirements, and students completing such programs may find work cosmetologists, hair dressers, stylists or barbers.