Cosmetologist Education Requirements and Career Information

Sep 19, 2019

Individuals interested in becoming hair stylists, nail technicians, or make-up artists may want to pursue schooling for cosmetology. Read on for details on cosmetologist education requirements and typical job responsibilities in this field.

Essential Information

Cosmetologists provide a variety of beauty-related services for their clients. Typically, they focus on treatments of hair, nails, and skin. For example, cosmetologists may cut and style hair, provide manicures and nail-care treatment or apply make-up. Cosmetologists must be licensed and usually need prior education or training before entering the field.

Education Requirements High school diploma; postsecondary education sometimes required for licensure
Licensure Required in all states; an exam may be required
Median Salary (2018) $24,730 (for 'hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists')*
Key Skills Customer service and time management skills; stamina to spend hours standing

Source: *U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Cosmetologist Education Requirements

A career in cosmetology begins with a high school diploma or the equivalent. Upon graduating, aspiring cosmetologists will want to consider their options for postsecondary training. Schooling for cosmetology can often be found at vocational schools or community colleges. A cosmetologist education program can result in an associate's degree or a certificate. Individuals interested in entering the field should be sure their education program is state-licensed.

Sometimes referred to as a beauty school degree, a cosmetology education program usually includes classes in hair coloring and styling and spa treatments along with core general education requirements, and some courses may be available online. These programs may also provide instruction in salon management and aspects of running a cosmetology-based business, and they may give students the chance to complete an internship in the field. Those interested in a particular aspect of cosmetology such as nail design should seek out programs emphasizing that area.

Cosmetologist Licensure

After completing their education program, cosmetologists must become licensed by the state in which they wish to work. Requirements for licensure vary by state. Generally, though, cosmetologists need to pass a written exam and, in some states, an oral test or a practical exam during which they demonstrate their skills. Cosmetologists also need to renew their licenses periodically, and states may require that practitioners complete continuing education programs throughout their careers.

Cosmetologist Job Description

Cosmetology includes a range of services related to hair and skincare. For these professionals, a typical day involves working with clients to cut, color, and style hair. They also consult with clients to recommend hairstyles and treatments and provide instructions for caring for hairstyles at home.

These professionals also must clean and sanitize their tools and maintain the inventory of their supplies. In addition, cosmetologists usually maintain records of their clients, the treatments they receive, and the products used during their visits. Cosmetologists who own or manage their own salons also handle the hiring of personnel, and they may be in charge of advertising their business.

Daily duties vary for cosmetologists focused on other areas within the field. Nail technicians primarily perform manicures, pedicures, and other nail care services. Cosmetologists who specialize in esthetics provide services including facials, waxing, and make-up application.

Salary Information

The U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median income for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists was $24,730 in May 2018. Salaries in the lowest 10% were $17,980 or lower while those in the top 10% of income earned $50,110 or more. The industry paying the highest salaries was the performing arts. Salaries were the highest in the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, and Washington.

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