Steps to Become a Cosmetologist

Barbers, hairstylists and cosmetologists are trained professionals who can treat hair, skin and nail problems. They are also trained in hair removal procedures and multiple other beauty treatments. Mostly, barbers and cosmetologists are found working full time in parlors, salons and resorts. Unlike other professions, cosmetologists are required to be certified by a state-approved authority all over America. The different steps to become a cosmetologist are listed below:

  1. Get a high school diploma

The first step to work in almost any occupation in America is to get a high school diploma or equivalent degree. If you are an adult without a high school diploma, you can get a general education diploma (GED). In some states, cosmetology boards may allow you to pass a competency test in place of a high school diploma.
During your high school program, it is ideal that you take courses that will help you further your career. This will include classes on biology, chemistry and anatomy. While at first, these courses may not seem relevant, cosmetologists are required to mix dyes, treat hair and skin problems, and more. As professionals who are supposed to treat these problems, they should have a strong background in human anatomy and biology.

  1. Get the right training

After your high school education, it is important that you start training in the area of your interest. To be able to give the state licensing exam, you need to make sure you have chosen a state-approved program. Whilst getting your cosmetology certificate, you will learn about aesthetics, entrepreneurship, chemistry, biology and salon concepts. A cosmetology certificate usually takes 2 semesters i.e. 1 year to complete.
You can also get an associate’s degree in cosmetology. This is a more detailed course on cosmetology and will take you at least 2 years to complete. During this program, you will learn about business principals, basic chemistry and beauty treatments. An associate’s degree will help you learn through both theory and practice. You may also get real clients to practice on.
The third option is to get a cosmetology apprenticeship. This is usually a longer program than a degree or a certificate but is also a traditional method of learning a new skill. Cosmetology apprentices usually learn on the job by acting as assistants to more experienced professionals. The duration of the program will vary from state to state.

  1. Pass the state exam

To become a licensed cosmetologist, you are required to give an exam set up by your state’s cosmetology department. Every state will have a different set of requirements but most state cosmetology tests involve a written test, a practical test and an oral evaluation.

What Do Certified Cosmetologists Make?

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for hairstylists, barbers, and cosmetologists is $24,830 per year and $11.94 per hour. The number of jobs available in the field in 2016 was 673,700 and is expected to increase at twice the average rate. A new addition of 87,600 jobs is expected in the industry between 2016 and 2026.