How to become a cosmetologist

Fueled by social media, women and men are pouring billions of dollars into products and procedures that help them look and feel their best. With this comes the need for trained and licensed beauty and wellness professionals. The cosmetology industry offers a variety of creative and business-oriented career options, from salon owner, hair stylist and colorist, to makeup artist and nail technician. Here are the five steps to becoming a cosmetologist:

  1. Be at least 16 years of age and have a high school diploma or a GED.
  2. Enroll in a state-licensed cosmetology school.
  3. Complete your courses. Most programs take 9-15 months to complete.
  4. Complete training hours. Depending on the state, you will need to complete between 1,000 and 2,300 hours, including time spent in the classroom.
  5. Pass the state licensing exam. All states require licensing for cosmetologists. Candidates for a license must graduate a state-approved cosmetology program and pass a state exam.

Once you have passed your licensing exam, you are ready to enter the field of cosmetology. Fortis Institute offers cosmetology training in Pensacola, Florida. Students in the program learn cosmetology by studying and practicing techniques in a wide range of modalities, including haircutting, creative hair styling, coloring, modern nail technology, skin care, chemistry, facials, and salon management.

If you are interested in gaining the skills needed for a successful career as a cosmetologist, consider Fortis Institute’s cosmetology program in Pensacola, Florida or give us a call at 1-855-436-7847 for more information.

A creative nature, a friendly, gregarious personality, and a love of beauty are certainly the hallmarks of a great cosmetologist. But beyond fitting the mold to work in this exciting field, individuals interested in the artistry of nail, hair, and makeup styling must meet the education, training and examination requirements necessary to become licensed.

Cosmetologists virtually always specialize as hairstylists and hairdressers, but they may concentrate on providing a broad range of services related to haircare, nailcare, and makeup artistry.

Most states have similar licensing processes, which include the successful completion of a formal training program as well as a hands-on practical exam and a written exam before completing an application for licensure.

What are the State Requirements for Licensure?

Most states license cosmetologists through their board of cosmetology or department of health. It is common for states to license general cosmetologists, professionals permitted to serve as manicurists/pedicurists, hairstylists/hairdressers, and/or makeup artists. Many states, however, also allow candidates to be licensed in a specific area of cosmetology, as well. A full cosmetology license requires more substantial practice requirements, while specializations may require significantly fewer practice hours for licensure.

For example, to earn a cosmetology license in Arizona, candidates must possess at least 1,600 practice hours, although those interested in working solely as nail technicians may achieve licensure after just 600 nail technician practice hours.

In general, a full cosmetology license requires between 1000 and 2000 hours of formal training and education. For example, the Vermont Board of Cosmetology requires 1,500 hours, while the New York Board of Cosmetology requires just 1,000 practice hours.

Entry requirements for cosmetology programs may include a minimum age (usually 16) and a high school diploma or GED.

What Kind of Training and Experience is Required?

Once a firm understanding of state licensure requirements has been established, individuals can then being searching for a cosmetology school that best fits their needs and career goals. Most state boards maintain a list of approved institutions or programs on their website. Many times, state boards will only approve programs that are accredited by one of the accrediting bodies for cosmetology programs:

  • Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT)
  • Accrediting Council for Continued Education & Training (ACCET)
  • American Association of Cosmetology Schools (AACS)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)
  • The National Accrediting Commission for Cosmetology Arts & Sciences (NACCAS)

Candidates who want to complete a program that does not appear on a state board of cosmetology’s approved program list should always receive approval from the board before beginning the program.

The cost, curriculum, and duration of a cosmetology program depends on whether it is an associate degree or certificate/diploma program, whether it is a part-time or full-time program, and whether it is a specialized beauty program or a comprehensive cosmetology program.

Specialized beauty programs may be completed in as little as 6 months, while full cosmetology programs generally take significantly longer, with the longest associate degree (Associate of Science, Associate of Applied Science, or Associate of Occupational Science) programs taking about 2 years to complete when taking courses on a full-time basis.

In addition to the beauty curriculum that includes hair styling, manicuring, skin care, and scalp care, a comprehensive cosmetology program covers everything from hygiene and sanitation to salon operations and practice laws.

Cosmetology programs may be found through vocational schools, community colleges, and dedicated cosmetology schools. Programs include a great deal of practical training, and many programs have a class devoted specifically to state licensure exam preparation.

It is also common for licensed cosmetologists and students to seek additional training in everything from marketing to business management if they anticipate owning their own salon or working as a salon manager.

What about Apprenticeships?

An apprenticeship involves working under a licensed cosmetologist on a full-time basis for a specific length of time. Some states, such as California, recognize the completion of an apprenticeship program in lieu of a formal education. However, candidates interested in pursuing this route to licensure should be aware that requirements for apprenticeships are often more stringent.

The difference between required practice hours for the education route versus the apprenticeship route can be dramatic. Requirements for the education route typically means completing around 1,500 hours, while apprenticeship programs often require at least 3,000 practice hours.

Further, some state boards of cosmetology allow only those individuals who can prove they are unable to afford a cosmetology program to complete an apprenticeship program, and some state boards, such as Illinois, do not recognize apprenticeships at all.

What You Learn in Cosmetology Schol

In Cosmetology school, the students will learn many things. Most schools start out in the classroom for four to eight weeks. In the classroom, everyone typically learns the state law first. After that students will learn sanitation rules and procedures. He or she then moves on to the history of Cosmetology. After that, students learn the basics and fundamentals of cutting, coloring, chemical services, styling, nails, skin, and waxing. Some things that vary from school to school are the color systems

The Future Of Becoming A Cosmetologist

The Future of Becoming A Cosmetologist Since the beginning of last year I had a thrive to become a cosmetologist/ Makeup Artist. From watching youtube videos, experimenting on my face and to now actually getting payed to do other females makeup. Everybody has their little temporary phases that they have but this phase is something that I have stayed clinged on to. I can go to the store and spend hours in the makeup section and nail section. Most of the the times I always wound up making a big

I Don ‘t Work With A Stylist

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A Cosmetologist : A Career As A Career

Cosmetologist In our world today, there are literally thousands of career options for people to choose from. These careers can be anything from a storekeeper to a lawyer and all have a purpose. Even though our society needs all the job opportunities and career pathways, some careers aren’t talked about as much. Cosmetology is a career that everyone uses but unless you are a cosmetologist, you probably don’t know much about being a cosmetologist. Cosmetology seems like an easy field to work

Cosmetologist Career Research Paper

A cosmetologist is a professional skill or practice of beautifying the face , hair and skin. Barbers, hairdressers, cosmetologists provides hair cutting and a range of other beauty services. One must received a high school diploma or equivalent and be 16 years of age. One also must graduate from state licensed barber or cosmetology school. Overall employment of barbers, hairdresser and cosmetology is projected to grow 10 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than average for all occupations ( U.S Bureau

The Steps Of Becoming A Cosmetologist

The steps to become a Cosmetologist Some people might say cosmetologist are those people who take care of my roots. Those people who help me and do my nails for my lucky date tonight. Or maybe those people who beautify me to perform live on stage in front of millions of people. People have had many definitions and principles of what a cosmetologist is to them. From people who help customers with their fashion styles, creatively change up their hair and possibly their nails. Cosmetology actually

Exploring Cosmetology Essay

Have you ever thought about becoming a cosmetologist? Are you familiar with what a cosmetologist does? Do you think you have the skill and patience it takes to become a cosmetologist? The basics of becoming a cosmetologist and why it is so common in today’s world will be explained in the following paragraphs. “A cosmetologist is a beauty specialist who is educated in treating the hair, skin, and nails” (McKay). Some of the services that are required of a cosmetologist include but are not limited

Cosmetology : A High School Diploma Program

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Cosmetology : A Cultural And Imperative Practices

Jennifer Bergum Mr. Christensen English 11B 05-12-2015 Cosmetology For generations cosmetology has been a major priority to many different cultures and societies marking all the way back to Ancient Egypt. Cosmetology from the start has used electrical beauty devices and has increased as a exceedingly professionalized industry. Today cosmetology has become known as a serious career move for plenty of women and men who want to become financially self-reliant. Now, in cosmetology, you are required

Cosmetology Career Research Papers

In order to become a cosmetologist, I will have to take certain steps. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, I must graduate from a state-licensed barber or cosmetology school. I must also have a high school diploma or equivalent. The ages vary from state to a state of how old I have to be to attend a hair school. Most states require that I to be at least 17 or 18 to apply. There are some states that will allow enrollment at the age of 16.After I have graduated from a state-approved training I

How to become a cosmetologist

Cosmetologists: A Quick Look
Median Salary $22,770 per annum
Entry-level education Cosmetology school
On-the-job training No formal program
Primary employers Personal care services
Number of positions (U.S.) 663,300
Job Growth (2010-2020) 13% (Faster than national average)
New positions (2010-2020) +83,300

How to become a cosmetologistWhat Does A Cosmetologist Do?

A cosmetologist is a beauty professional with training in a wide variety of beauty services, including hair, skin, and nails. Read more.

Salary

Cosmetologists must complete a 9-12 month associate’s degree and meet state licensing requirements. Read more.

Becoming A Cosmetologist

Cosmetologists must complete a 9-12 month associate’s degree and meet state licensing requirements. Find out how to begin a professional career as a Cosmetologist Read more.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for cosmetologists is expected to be average, with a national projected growth rate of 16% from 2010-2020. Read more.

Find The Best Cosmetologist Jobs For You

Where do you want to work?

Working as a Cosmetologist

The pervasiveness of automation in repetitive tasks across industries, like manufacturing and retail, are consequently shifting the perception of skill value that contributes to society. Although this has caused some level of economic uncertainty, human activity on the other hand, has been freed to explore a more creative dimension. One job that is gaining popularity in the creative field is the role of a cosmetologist.

Daily, a cosmetologist is involved in providing beauty care services, focusing on hair, skin, and nails. This includes tasks such as shampooing, styling, cutting, bleaching, coloring, and providing wigs or hairpieces. Besides that, they provide services such as skin care treatments, facial hair trimming, eyebrow shaping, nail polishing, and demonstrating makeup applications.

Employers require cosmetologists to have either formal training in at least one field of beauty services and demonstrate at least one to two years of work experience. This role earns, on average, $18 per hour and suits individuals who have a knack for styling.

What Does a Cosmetologist Do

Barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists provide haircutting, hairstyling, and a range of other beauty services.

Duties

Barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists typically do the following:

  • Inspect and analyze hair, skin, and scalp to recommend treatment
  • Discuss hairstyle options
  • Wash, color, lighten, and condition hair
  • Chemically change hair textures
  • Cut, dry, and style hair
  • Receive payments from clients
  • Clean and disinfect all tools and work areas

Barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists provide hair and beauty services to enhance clients’ appearance. Those who operate their own barbershop or salon have managerial duties that may include hiring, supervising, and firing workers, as well as keeping business and inventory records, ordering supplies, and arranging for advertising.

Barbers cut, trim, shampoo, and style hair, mostly for male clients. They also may fit hairpieces, perform facials, and offer facial shaving. Depending on the state in which they work, some barbers are licensed to color, bleach, and highlight hair and to offer permanent-wave services. Common tools include combs, scissors, straight razors, and clippers.

Hairdressers, or hairstylists, offer a wide range of hair services, such as shampooing, cutting, coloring, and styling. They often advise clients, both male and female, on how to care for their hair at home. They also keep records of products and services provided to clients, such as hair color, shampoo, conditioner, and hair treatment used. Tools include hairbrushes, scissors, blow dryers, and curling irons.

Cosmetologists provide scalp and facial treatments and makeup analysis. Some also clean and style wigs and hairpieces. In addition, most cosmetologists actively recommend professional hair care products or salon hair care products.

How To Become a Cosmetologist

All states require barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists to be licensed. To qualify for a license, candidates are required to graduate from a state-approved cosmetology program.

Education

A high school diploma or equivalent is required for some positions. In addition, every state requires that barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists complete a program in a state-licensed barber or cosmetology school. Programs in hairstyling, skin care, and other personal appearance services are available in postsecondary vocational schools.

Full-time programs in barbering and cosmetology usually last at least 9 months and may lead to an associate’s degree. Most of these workers take advanced courses in hairstyling or in other personal appearance services to keep up with the latest trends. Those who want to open their own business also may take courses in sales and marketing.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists must obtain a license in order to work. Qualifications for a license vary by state, but generally, a person must fulfill the following criteria:

  • Reached a minimum age of 16
  • Received a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Graduated from a state-licensed barber or cosmetology school

After graduating from a state-approved training program, students take a state licensing exam that includes a written test and, in some cases, a practical test of styling skills or an oral exam.

In many states, cosmetology training may be credited toward a barbering license and vice versa, and a few states combine the two licenses. A fee usually is required to apply for a license, and periodic renewals may be necessary.

Some states have reciprocity agreements that allow licensed barbers and cosmetologists to get a license in another state without needing additional formal training or state board testing, but such agreements are not common. Consequently, people who want to work in a particular state should review the laws of that state before entering a training program.

Important Qualities

Creativity. Barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists must keep up with the latest trends and be ready to try new hairstyles for their clients.

Customer-service skills. Workers must be pleasant, friendly, and able to interact with customers in order to retain clients.

Listening skills. Barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists should be good listeners. They must listen carefully to what the client wants in order to make sure that the client is happy with the result.

Physical stamina. Barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists must be able to stand on their feet for long periods.

Tidiness. Workers must keep a neat personal appearance and keep their work area clean and sanitary. This requirement is necessary for the health and safety of their clients and for making clients comfortable enough so that they will want to return.

Time-management skills. Time-management skills are important in scheduling appointments and providing services. For example, routine haircuts do not require the precise timing of some other services, such as applying neutralizer after a permanent wave. Clients who receive timely hair care are more likely to return.

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How to become a cosmetologistCosmetologists are licensed beauty professionals. Cosmetologists generally specialize in hair design and hairdressing, though they are usually certified to provide skin care services, do pedicures and manicures, and even apply makeup and advice women on how to do their makeup. Depending on the state where a cosmetologist earns their license, a separate license may be required for each of these tasks.

Learning how to become a cosmetologist means getting proper education and training, learning about the qualifications needed to work as a licensed cosmetologist, and following the steps necessary to working as a full-time cosmetologist.

Potential Earnings and Income of Cosmetologists

Cosmetologists, like any licensed professional, can earn as much money as they want. The potential earnings and income of cosmetologists is based on how much work they do, how long they’ve been in practice, and the region of the country where they work. Hairdressers and cosmetologists in wealthy parts of the country naturally make more money because they can charge more. If you have an affluent client base, you’ll earn more money, though you can earn just as much money charging less for cosmetology services if you have a large client base.

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the average income of a cosmetologist was about $20,000 a year, but that number is skewed downward by the fact that many cosmetologists only work part-time. Full-time cosmetologists and hairdressers with a long list of clients can easily make six-figure salaries, especially if they have a lot of experience, perform multiple services (including spa services), and work in affluent parts of the country.

Cosmetologists that work on their own are more likely to keep more of the money they earn, although an association with a salon or spa will increase their client list. You have to find a balance between setting up your own schedule of clients and working independently and getting work through a larger salon or cosmetology service. Remember, if you rent a space at a salon, part of your earnings go to paying rent and other fees to the salon.

Education and Training for Cosmetologists

People interested in becoming cosmetologists train in public or private vocational schools or even two-year colleges. Education and training for cosmetologists should include classroom work as well as practical experience.

A full-time course in cosmetology normally requires six months to a full year of classroom work and practical experience to complete. The courses you take in cosmetology school cover hygiene, cosmetic chemistry, bacteriology (because of the chance of infection from dirty or improperly maintained equipment) and even psychology and business applications.

Because most people in cosmetology school have to work part or full-time while in school, many cosmetology schools offer night classes. If you take night classes, earning your degree in cosmetology will take longer. If you haven’t earned your high school diploma, some cosmetology schools provide a GED program in addition to the normal training procedure in cosmetology. Programs that supply a GED as well as a cosmetology degree take up to three years to finish.

Apprenticeship programs are another in road to cosmetology training. These programs are licensed at the state level and involve working one on one with cosmetologists to learn the business directly from a working hairdresser or spa employee.

Every state in America requires some form of license for a cosmetologist or hairdresser to work professional, though these requirements vary widely from one state to another. Candidates for a degree in cosmetology must be at least sixteen years old, certified in good health by a doctor, and be a graduate of an approved cosmetology school. Cosmetologists must also pass a state licensing examination made up of a written test and a test of practical cosmetology skills.

Some states also require an oral exam in which cosmetology degree candidates are asked to explain specific cosmetology procedures in front of a licensing board. Continuing education is also important, as new techniques and styles are common in the field of cosmetology. Cosmetology licenses must be renewed every year or every two years, depending on the state in which a cosmetologist works.

Qualifications to Become a Cosmetologist

If you’re interested in becoming a cosmetologist, you should have a wide range of skills and abilities, including:

  • being a people person
  • the ability to budget your time
  • interest and natural ability in design and cosmetology skills
  • a high school diploma, GED, or the desire to earn one or the other
  • financial resources to attend cosmetology school

The specific qualifications for becoming a licensed cosmetologist vary from state to state, so check with your state licensing board to make sure you meet all the qualifications and requirements before applying for cosmetology school. Once you earn your degree and pass the state licensing exams, it will be time to apply for work as a cosmetologist in a spa, hair salon, or even open your own shop if you have the means.

Becoming a Cosmetologist Step by Step

1. Earn your high school diploma or GED.

2. Look into the licensing requirements for cosmetologists in the state where you want to work. If you want to be a licensed cosmetologist to be a hairdresser but are also interested in working in other areas of cosmetology, look into the requirements for earning separate licenses for that work as well.

3. Apply for and enroll in an accredited cosmetology or vocational school offering a degree in cosmetology. To find accredited programs, you can download or view a list from the National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts & Sciences web site at naccas.org. Look for a degree that combines classroom and practical training in cosmetology.

4. While you are working on your degree, apply for internships or part-time jobs at salons that can provide you course credit you’ll need to complete your degree.

5. Take the state board examination after you graduate from your degree program. This test is part written and part practical application testing. Your cosmetology school will give you mock exams and train you to pass this examination.

Cosmetologists provide a valuable and necessary service. Millions and millions of people turn to cosmetologists to improve their appearance or for regular hair cuts, pedicure, manicures, and other service. The sky is the limit in terms of your work and earning potential.

Total salon sales of beauty products and services in Alaska in 2013 totaled $96 million. The beauty industry in Alaska supports 140 salon and spa establishments and 930 employees.

If you want to begin a cosmetology career as a hairdresser and stylist in Alaska, you must become licensed through the Alaska Board of Barbers and Hairdressers, which involves completing the following:

Complete a Formal Training Program in Cosmetology
Apply for a Hairdresser License in Alaska
Take and Pass the Required Examinations for Licensure
Keep your Hairdresser License Current

Step 1. Complete a Formal Training Program in Cosmetology

Enrolling in a formal training program from a cosmetology school in Alaska is the ideal way to begin exploring your creativity and artistic vision. To ensure you are prepared to become a licensed cosmetologist in Alaska, it is important to make sure the program you choose involves at least 1,650 hours of training and is approved by the Board. You can view a list of approved cosmetology programs here.

Cosmetology programs may be offered through dedicated beauty schools, junior colleges, or vocational schools. A comprehensive cosmetology program usually takes between 12 and 18 months to complete, while an associate degree in cosmetology takes 2 years to complete.

You can expect a cosmetology associate degree to feature additional study in areas such as marketing and business management.

Although a cosmetology license in Alaska is referred to as a hairdressing license, it does give you the authority to perform a host of salon services. You can expect a cosmetology program in Alaska to include study in the following:

  • Trimming, arranging, curling, styling, dressing, waving, cutting, bleaching, coloring, conditioning, and cleansing
  • Trimming or cutting facial hair
  • Limited esthetics, including temporary removal of hair on the face or neck, including eyebrow waxing
  • Application of makeup and false eyelashes
  • Manicuring and pedicuring

If you have aspirations of specializing in a certain area of cosmetology, you may become licensed to do so in less time through a dedicated license. An esthetician license requires the completion of 350 hours of study, a nail technician license requires the completion of a 12-hour course, and an advanced manicurist license requires the completion of 250 hours of study.

You may also choose to complete an apprenticeship in cosmetology in lieu of a formal cosmetology program. A cosmetology apprenticeship, which involves working under the direct guidance of a licensed cosmetologist, requires the completion of at least 2,000 hours of training.

You may also qualify for a hairdresser license in Alaska through a combination of coursework and apprenticeship. The Board utilizes the following criteria when determining equivalent hours of coursework and apprenticeship:

  • One coursework hour equals 1.121 apprenticeship hour
  • Once apprenticeship hour equals .825 coursework hour

Step 2. Apply for a Hairdresser License in Alaska

You must apply for licensure in Alaska upon meeting the practice requirements achieved through a formal cosmetology program or apprenticeship. To apply for a hairdresser license, you must provide the Board with the following:

  • A notarized Application for Hairdresser License
  • Supporting documents showing the completion of your training (must be original documents)
  • A check or money order (made payable to the State of Alaska) for the following:
    • Examination fee of $95 (includes the $35 written examination fee and the $60 practical examination fee)
    • Application fee of $80
    • Initial license fee of $140

You may also apply for a temporary license to practice hairdressing if you have applied for, and are qualified to, take the Alaska cosmetology examinations. A temporary license allows you to practice under the supervision of a licensed cosmetologist. To apply for a temporary license, you must also provide the Board with (in addition to the above standard application for licensure requirements):

  • A temporary license fee of $80
  • A Statement of Responsibility form (must be completed by the licensed cosmetologist under whom you will be working), which is included in the application packet

Temporary licenses are valid for up to 120 days and are nonrenewable.

Step 3. Take and Pass the Required Examinations for Licensure

You can expect to be notified by the Board of your eligibility to take the written and practical examinations after the Board receives your application. Both examinations are scheduled about every 4 weeks in Anchorage and about every 8 weeks in Fairbanks. You will be notified by the Board of the exact time and place of the upcoming examination. You can also view 2015 examination dates here.

You must pay close attention to the examination deadline dates and ensure that your notarized application for licensure, the related fees, and all supporting documentation are received before this date.

You can expect to complete the following for your practical examination:

  • Hairstyle
  • Perm
  • Virgin tint
  • Haircut, blow drying, and iron curling

The Board utilizes the National Cosmetology theory examination for its written examination, which was developed and administered by the National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology (NIC). This examination assessed students on the following:

  • Scientific concepts
  • Haircare and services
  • Skincare and services
  • Nail care and services

Additional information on taking the examination in Alaska can be found here.

Step 4. Keep your Hairdresser License Current

Your hairdresser license in Alaska expires on August 31 of all odd-numbered years and must be renewed through the Alaska Board of Barbers and Hairdressers.

Although there are no continuing education requirements to maintain your cosmetology license in Alaska, it is always beneficial to take courses to stay current on the latest trends and advances in hair care, nail care, and skincare/makeup.

Individuals who want to pursue salon management often seek associate degrees in cosmetology (if they haven’t earned one already) or bachelor degrees in areas such as health and beauty management or salon and spa management. Further, if you have your sights set on opening up your own salon, courses in business management and marketing are always beneficial.

How to become a cosmetologist

What’s the best scene in the movie The Princess Diaries? The one where Mia goes from frizzy frump to a gorgeous princess , of course!

If you’re a true cosmetologist at heart, you live for a good makeover scene. You were that person at sleepovers and friends houses who was begging the other person to let you do their makeup, or their hair, or their nails – the list goes on.

If this sounds like you, then congratulations—you’re the perfect candidate to become a cosmetologist. But do you know how to become a cosmetologist? What is the day-to-day life of one? How much do they make?

We’ve got your glamour field guide, below:

How to become a cosmetologist

What is a Cosmetologist?

To continue with the pop-culture movie theme, Paulo, from Princess Diaries, is an excellent example of a cosmetologist.

Not only did he create a general beauty strategy for Mia, but he did her hair (including a cut), worked with her skin, did her nails, and dressed her for success, as well.

All of that, except the fashion consulting (though there’s no reason you can’t), is what a cosmetologist is. They’re beauty technicians, in one way or another. You don’t have to do hair, skin, and nails, though, if you don’t want to.

Many cosmetologists find their favorite out of the three and stick to it. Cosmetology is a general degree, and you can make it as specific or non-specific as you want.

How to Become a Cosmetologist: Find a Program

Being good at hair, makeup, or nails isn’t enough. To be a cosmetologist, you have to go to cosmetology school. If you don’t, it’s not legal for you to provide services as a business.

Scared of higher education? Don’t be. Cosmetology school isn’t nearly as long or as expensive as four-year colleges. You can get through most school programs in two years, if not sooner, depending on the number of credits you take.

But just because it’s not a traditional college, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take cosmetology school (including finding the right one) seriously. You’ll still need to pay tuition, so you want to find the best education you can get.

What to Look for in a Cosmetology Program

When you’re doing your initial research, you want to look for cosmetology schools that are licensed. Licensed programs are the only ones that have the authority to give you a working cosmetology degree.

If they’re not listed on a national registry, then the school is probably a scam. Make sure you do your research in-depth before you drop even a penny on tuition!

Consider Branded Programs

There are cosmetology schools through specific brands, like Paul Mitchell and Aveda. These places train you to work in their salons, with their products, for the rest of your life.

Or at least, that’s their goal. When you commit to a brand program, you’re committing to the brand too. Make sure their values and company policies align with your own.

If you’re going to commit to a branded program, make sure you talk to a program advisor about what happens if you want to leave the brand in the future.

Take Additional Business or Marketing Classes

Your training program should cover some form of marketing or business, but it’s likely not enough. Since you’ll be an independent contractor as a cosmetologist (in most cases), it’s worth taking some further business or marketing classes – even if they’re online!

You’re selling services, but you’re also selling an experience—and yourself, as the person who provides both. Having a strong foundation of marketing knowledge will help you make sure that tuition money doesn’t go to waste.

Take Hands-On Practice Seriously

When you start your program, you’ll be practicing on dummies and models. But as you get more advanced, you’ll make your way up to real people.

And these people are trusting you with their beauty – so make sure you feel comfortable doing something to them. If you’re not, ask your instructor for guidance. You’ll never have hands-on practice on the floor without a supervisor of some sort there.

They’re there to help you – so don’t let your pride get in the way!

Take the Licensing Exam

Once you’ve finished the majority of your education, you’ll need to start studying for the licensing exam.

Cosmetologists must take a licensing exam in the state where they want to practice. Taking this test, and passing it, is what will allow you to get hired in a real salon.

During your career, you will need to re-up your certification by doing continuing education credits. There is a cost involved with keeping your license current, but it’s not much, considering your profits.

Find a Salon

Now that you’re licensed, it’s time to find employment! That’s easier said than done (in general), even though there is an average to moderate projected growth in the cosmetology industry.

When you’re first applying, don’t set your sights too high. Almost every salon will start you off as an assistant before you get to take on clients on your own. Think of it as that hands-on practice you did in school, but now you’re getting paid to learn!

Ready, Set, Glam!

Now that you know how to become a cosmetologist, it’s time to make some decisions. Are you going to make a career out of your love of beauty? Or leave it as a fun hobby? No one can make that decision for you.

How to become a cosmetologist

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