How To Become A Certified Cosmetologist?

Huda Beauty, Fenty Beauty and Kylie Cosmetics – these are only a few cosmetic entrepreneurs that have made it big in the recent years. If this piques your interest, you might want to consider a career in cosmetology.
Cosmetologists are licensed beauty care professionals, trained in skills like giving facials, manicures, pedicures, haircuts and more. All states in America require cosmetologists to be certified and professionally trained. If you are starting a career as a cosmetologist, continue reading this guide for information about career trajectories, growth opportunities, training requirements and more.

Featured Programs and Schools

What Does a Cosmetologist Do?

Cosmetologists are professional beauticians that provide an array of services to clients in salons. The services they provide depend on their license and training, e.g. some are trained as barbers while others are trained as beauticians. It is also possible for cosmetologists to be trained as both beauticians and hairdressers and have multiple areas of specialization. If you enjoy helping others look their best and are good at adding flair to someone’s appearance, cosmetology school may be the right option for you.
The right cosmetology school will give you basic training in waxing, electrolysis, barbering, styling, hairdressing, shampooing, cosmetics, manicures, pedicures and more. According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, people who are trained to be cosmetologists are qualified to inspect and provide treatments for hair and skin, discuss the best options for someone’s hair and nails, wash, color, condition, sanitize and more.

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Types of Cosmetologists

There are multiple specializations when it comes to cosmetology schools. You could become a hairdresser or a hair stylist. Hair stylists and dressers deal with all things hair related in a salon which could include coloring, conditioning, hair treatments, special event styling, scalp treatments and other small treatments.
You could also specialize to become a barber or a shampoo specialist. Barbers are hairstylists that typically cut men’s hair and also trim and style facial hair. Shampoo specialists prep a client’s hair and wash and dry them before treatment.
You could also become an esthetician, manicurist/pedicurist or an electrologist. Electrologists are trained to remove hair from hair follicles in a way that permanently damages them and stops or reduces the growth of hair on the skin. This kind of work requires special training. If you want to become a manicurist or a pedicurist, you will be responsible for trimming, filing, painting and treating nails.
Manicurists and pedicurists should also be trained in how to apply fake nails like acrylics, wraps, overlays and plastic nail applications. Estheticians have a wider purview than most other beauticians. They are responsible for treatments of the skin, including waxing, exfoliation, eyebrow and lash trimming, moisturizing, and more.

Cosmetologist Salaries and Job Prospects

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for barbers, hair stylists, and cosmetologists was $24,830 per year and $11.94 per hour. The typical entry-level education required to become a cosmetologist is a post-secondary non-degree award. Generally, no on the job training is required to become a cosmetologist. The number of jobs available in the industry in 2016 was 673,700 and is expected to grow by 13% by 2026, adding 87,600 new jobs to the industry.

Steps to Become a Cosmetologist

  1. Get a high school diploma

The first step to become a cosmetologist is to earn a high school diploma. In addition to this, you must be at least 16 years old. If you are interested in the beauty industry, you should be taking courses in biology, anatomy and chemistry in high school. These courses will help you treat people’s skin and hair problems as well as mix complicated colors. You should also be taking courses on English and learn to communicate with people better.

  1. Get licensed

If you are serious about becoming a beautician, you must get licensed from a state accredited program. You will be able to find most state accredited programs in community colleges or post secondary vocational schools. From these schools, you may be able to get either a post secondary non-degree award or a certificate. After this, you can start applying for jobs in the field.


To get a license for a barber, hairdresser or cosmetologist, there are certain requirements you will have to meet. Firstly, you have to be at least 16 years old and have received a high school diploma or equivalent certificate. You also have to graduate from a state-licensed cosmetology school.
In addition to this, you must also get licensed from a state-approved training program. This will generally include a written test but in certain cases may also include a practical exam and an oral test. You will likely have to pay a small fee and continue to get your license renewed. You might also be required to continue education units (CEU’s) to keep practicing.
Some states have a reciprocity agreement that allows an already licensed cosmetologist to get another license in a different field without having to undergo the whole training process again. However, this depends on the state you belong to and you will have to go over your state’s laws to check if reciprocity agreements are permitted.

Cosmetologist Career Advancement

If you want to advance in your career as a cosmetologist, it is necessary for you to have certain skills. Cosmetologists are generally very creative and must keep up with the latest makeup trends. In addition to this, as a cosmetologist, you are expected to have both physical stamina and time management skills.
If you plan on becoming a salon owner someday, then you may have to take courses in marketing and business administration as well as have experience in the field. Savvy marketing skills will increase your clientele and help you excel in the field. Another way to advance your career in the beauty industry is to keep your education current and renew your license once in a while. You should know the latest techniques and attend workshops.


Should You Become a Cosmetologist?

  • Whether or not you want to become a cosmetologist depends on if you are interested in becoming a part of the beauty industry. It also depends on your credentials to become one.
  • Cosmetologists typically enjoy job security, since the demand for beautification is not expected to go down anytime soon. As new cosmetic brands appear every day, it comes as no surprise that people will continue to invest in this industry in the coming years.
  • As a cosmetologist you also get a chance to connect with people and show your creative skills. Salons across the country have witnessed lasting bonds being formed between clients and stylists.
  • Cosmetologists also have fast access to the market, since they do not need a lot of schooling.
  • At the end of the day, choosing your career can be a difficult decision to make but if you have researched on your intended career path and know the ins and outs of the beauty industry, you should be equipped to make the best decision for yourself.