Cosmetology Certificate, Diploma and Certification Programs

Apr 29, 2021

Essential Information

Program Levels Certificate programs, associate degree
Field(s) of Study Cosmetology
Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent
Online Availability Online programs are available
Program Length 1 year or less for certificate programs, 2 years for associate's degrees
Licensure/Certification Licensure required in all states; typically 1500+ hours of training required
Job Outlook (2018-2028) 8% growth
Median Salary (2019) $12.54 per hour

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Certificate programs in cosmetology train students to alter and care for people's hair, skin and nails. Several programs also train students in business skills, such as retail sales, entrepreneurship and management, preparing graduates to start their own businesses or become salon managers. The length of these cosmetology certificate programs varies, depending on state licensure requirements, but they usually can be completed in a year or less or two years for an associate's degree. Some courses and programs are available online.

Most cosmetology programs don't have educational prerequisites beyond a high school diploma or GED. More prestigious cosmetology schools, which tend to be located near high-end fashion communities, might require applicants to submit letters of recommendation, a personal statement or a portfolio. All states require cosmetologists to earn licensure. Requirements vary, but often include a high school diploma and at least 1,500 hours of cosmetology training.

Certificate in Cosmetology

Coursework in a cosmetology certificate program combines theory and hands-on training. Students can learn a range of cosmetology techniques, including manicures, facials, hair cutting, highlighting, hairstyling and coloring. Students usually must complete a certain percentage of the program before being allowed to practice their techniques on the public. In addition to contemporary design concepts, classes might include the following:

  • Sterilization
  • Salon sanitation
  • Bacteriology
  • Small business finance
  • Hair relaxers
  • Interpersonal communication

Employment Outlook & Salary Information

Employment for cosmetologists is expected to grow 8% between 2018 and 2028, which is faster than average, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Replacement of employees who leave the occupation is the primary contributing factor. The median hourly wage for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists was $12.54 as of May 2019.

Continuing Education

Cosmetology programs are also available on the associate's degree level, although most programs include courses similar to those in certificate offerings, with the addition of general education courses. Cosmetologists who would like to teach can pursue a cosmetology instructor training program, which typically includes both general and discipline-specific pedagogy training.

In summary, cosmetology involves caring for people's hair, skin and nails and a certificate requires a high school diploma or GED, while licensure requires 1,500 hours training.

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