The study of cosmetology can include a number of disciplines, including hair cutting, beauty therapy, nail technology, electrology and skin care. Cosmetology programs come in many forms, including certificates, diploma, or associate's degree, and typically take two years of full-time coursework. Most programs require a high school diploma or GED. Occasionally a program may ask for high school transcripts, referrals or letters of recommendation.
Hands-on training is a common requirement in these programs to help prepare students for their career. Upon successful completion of a cosmetology program, students are prepared to take their state's cosmetology licensure exam.
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Undergraduate Programs in Cosmetology
Coursework in cosmetology programs contain both didactic learning and hands-on training. As such, students spend a lot of time observing demonstrations and testing new techniques on wigs, prosthetics or volunteers. Upon completion and licensure, students can gain employment in a salon, spa or barber shop, or they may be self-employed. Coursework may include the following:
- Female hair techniques
- Hair dying
- Skin care and coloring
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that the employment rate for barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists would grow 10% between 2014-2024, which is faster than average for all occupations (www.bls.gov). Such growth can be attributed to a rising population with increasing demands for cosmetology services. The BLS also notes that growth will vary by field. The median hourly wage for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists was $11.38 as of May 2015.
Continuing Education Information
Before being able to provide services, graduates of approved cosmetology programs must obtain a license. The main requirement for cosmetologist licensure is passing an examination, which may have written, oral and practical components. In the practical portion, test-takers may be called upon to demonstrate their skill with a certain styling technique and their adherence to safety and sanitation regulations. Licensed cosmetologists may need to periodically renew their status, which may require an application and a fee.
With a firm grasp of the program requirements for a common cosmetology program, prospective students know what it takes to join a career field that is projected to grow by 10% over the next decade.