Hair Stylist Degree Program Overviews

Cosmetology degree programs offer training for prospective hair stylists and cover topics related to hair care, nail care and the operations of a salon. Graduates are prepared to take a state licensing exam, which is required to secure employment as a hair stylist.

Essential Information

Hair stylist degree programs, commonly called cosmetology programs, are offered by community, vocational and technical colleges and can lead to an associate's degree in cosmetology. These 2-year programs cover beauty care techniques. such as hair styling and manicuring. Some schools may offer areas of specialization or separate certificate programs focusing solely on hair styling. Admission to cosmetology programs requires a high school diploma or equivalent.

Associate Degree in Cosmetology

The curriculum for associate's degree programs in cosmetology covers hair styling skills and techniques and often includes courses in customer relations and basic business management. Courses might include:

  • Hair cutting and styling
  • Hair coloring and chemical treatments
  • Safety and sanitation
  • Salon operations

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (, employment for hair stylists, hair dressers and cosmetologists is expected to grow by 10% during the period from 2014-2024. This growth is faster than average and attributed mostly to the increasing population. Additionally, hair coloring and other hair treatments have become more popular. The median annual salary for hair stylists, hair dressers and cosmetologists in 2015 was $23,660, according to the BLS.

Licensing and Continuing Education

Graduates of a hair styling degree program must take and pass a state licensing exam before being employed as a hair stylist. The exam may include both a written and practical portion. While continuing education may not be required to maintain licensure, hair stylists might consider further education as a means to advance their careers. Stylists can learn additional techniques, such as manicuring or skin care, to increase their service offerings. Some stylists might consider business courses to assist them in managing a salon or a cosmetology instructor program so they can teach others in the field.

Hair stylist degree programs are most commonly result in an associate's degree in cosmetology. In addition to hair styling, these programs also cover topics in nail care, salon safety and salon operations. Graduates must also complete a state licensing exam before becoming employed in the salon industry.

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