How do I get a Cosmetology Degree?

Britt Archer

There is an old saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but those who wish to pursue a degree in cosmetology see the potential beauty in everything. Cosmetology is the practice of enhancing the natural features of the face, hair and sometimes the skin. Cutting hair, applying makeup or caring for the skin and nails are the essential duties of a cosmetologist. Because these services are generally always in demand, the job outlook for an individual pursuing a cosmetology degree is good.

Artificial nails applied by a cosmetologist.
Artificial nails applied by a cosmetologist.

The qualifications required to become a cosmetologist vary by location, but within the United States most cosmetologists are required to pass a licensing exam administered by the worker's individual state, as well as receive a cosmetology degree from a state licensed school or training program. As with most occupations, the pay rate for a cosmetologist increases with the amount of training and experience obtained by the worker. In addition to the basic programs offered for licensure, specialized training programs exist for potential cosmetologists who wish to specialize in makeup artistry, nail care or hair artistry.

While each program may differ in terms of teaching technique and curriculum, almost every cosmetology degree will provide an overview of basic hair and skin care procedures, makeup application, hair care and cutting, and the proper techniques for manicures and pedicures. Some programs may provide training in retail sales and marketing, with still others providing training in business and entrepreneurship. Training in customer service, record keeping and basic math may also be required depending on the course of study in each individual program.

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Many community colleges, trade schools and adult career centers offer licensed programs to train those seeking a cosmetology degree. These programs generally culminate in an associate’s degree and the opportunity to take a local licensing examination. Full-time cosmetology certification programs generally last about nine months. Those wishing to seek this type of cosmetology degree are advised to contact the licensing board of their individual location for the necessary requirements.

While attending a brick-and-mortar education center is the traditional route, many busy individuals are looking into newer options, such as online cosmetology degrees. An online cosmetology degree allows the students to work at their own pace, and in their free time. It seems to be an ideal choice for those who are returning to the world of education after holding down a job, or those who have a family or other full-time obligations. When seeking an online cosmetology degree, it is important to investigate whether the program in question is acceptable for the student's individual location, and whether or not the school is accredited. Some online cosmetology certification courses are held completely in a virtual classroom, but some may require real-world experience in a local lab or other training facility.

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