Programs in cosmetology train students in the fundamental scientific concepts of cosmetology, while also fostering the artistic and aesthetic skills necessary to succeed in a professional salon environment. In addition to cosmetology skills, students develop sales, management and client relations skills. Learning is often hands on, and classrooms may simulate cosmetology work environments. Many schools include on-campus salons where students can experience working with clients.
Students in the 2-year associate's degree program take a combination of traditional classes and labs. Applicants to these programs must typically have a high school diploma or GED.
Associate's Degree in Cosmetology
These programs often involve the completion of 60-70 credits. Courses in this program are worth between two and four credits and require anywhere from 10 to 24 hours of work per week, though lab courses usually require more time. Students in these programs utilize their skills with salon clients and receive training in how to build up a client base. Common courses include:
- Fundamentals of cosmetology
- Cosmetology business practices
- Salon labs
- Work experience seminar
Popular Career Options
Graduates of a cosmetology associate's degree program often work in salons, though jobs may also be available at spas, resorts, hotels and barbershops. The following are some examples of job titles held by graduates of these programs:
- Salon manager
- Color specialist
- Makeup artist
- Cosmetic salesperson
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has projected a job decline of 2% for hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists for 2019-2029. As of May 2020, the median annual salary for these workers was $27,380.
Licensure and Certification
All states require cosmetologists to be licensed. Though exact requirements may vary slightly by state, most states require applicants to have completed a state-approved training program and pass a state exam. The exams often include written, oral and practical skills tests.
Those interested in becoming a cosmetologist should complete a certificate or associate's program to gain a basic understanding of the field as well as hands-on experience. These programs prepare you to earn state licensure.