Cosmetology Programs

It's an exciting time to be part of the beauty industry. The global cosmetic product market was valued at $532 billion in 2017 and shows no signs of slowing down. With increased demand for natural products, customized services and on-demand spa care, people aren't expected to give up their personal pampering any time soon.

That's good news for those who want to work as hair stylists, manicurists, skin care specialists or in other cosmetology professions. All these occupations are expected to see faster than average growth in the coming years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

However, if you want to pursue cosmetology careers, you need to get the right training first. Cosmetology schools offer programs that can be completed in less than a year for some occupations. These will not only give you the skills and knowledge needed to pursue a beauty career but also prepare you for state licensing requirements.

What are cosmetology specializations?

Most states regulate beauty careers, and that's why it's best to select a specialization before enrolling in a cosmetology school. That way, you can ensure the program meets state licensing requirements. The following are common specializations within the field.

  • Hairstyling/Barbering: Both hairstylists and barbers cut and style hair although there are some distinctions between the two professions. Barbers typically focus on men's hair and facial trimming and shaving. Meanwhile, hairstylists can cut, color and style both men and women's hair of varying lengths. States may have different licensure requirements for each occupation although these professionals typically share the same set of skills. They must be able to communicate clearly with clients, think critically about styling decisions and have the dexterity to use styling tools correctly.
  • Skin Care: Sometimes known as estheticians, skin care specialists offer a range of services related to skin health and beauty. They may apply makeup, give facials and remove hair. They may even create personalized beauty routines based on a skin analysis. Like other beauty professionals, skin care specialists must have good communication skills and the ability to focus on their client's needs without distraction.
  • Manicure and Pedicure: Nail technicians shape, clean and color nails. While manicurists work on fingernails, pedicurists specialize in beautifying toenails. In addition to buffing and polishing nails, they may massage and moisturize hands and feet as well as recommend nail care products to clients. To be successful in this cosmetology career, workers need to have steady hands and good vision to apply nail color and designs correctly.

What are the educational requirements for cosmetology jobs?

You'll need to attend a cosmetology trade school to meet many states' licensing requirements, but you shouldn't have to spend long years in school to complete your education. Most cosmetology programs can be completed in two years or less and result in one of the following:

Diploma/Certificate: These short-term programs go by different names but are similar in nature. They are the standard education for most cosmetology careers and can often be earned in six months to one year. The curriculum is designed to teach the skills and knowledge needed to be successful in a particular cosmetology specialty. Before enrolling in a diploma or certificate program, make sure it will meet your state's licensure requirements.

Associate Degree: Some cosmetology trade schools also offer associate degrees. These programs may be completed in 18 to 24 months and often include classes that go beyond cosmetology skills. For instance, they may teach business and computer basics. Students who think they may want to manage or own a salon one day may find an associate degree beneficial.

Article Sources
Article Sources


  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Accessed February 2019, https://www.bls.gov/ooh
  • 13 Trends Shaping the Face of Beauty in 2018, CB Insights, Accessed February 2019, https://www.cbinsights.com/research/report/beauty-trends-2018/
  • The Future of Beauty, The Nielsen Company, Accessed February 2019, https://www.nielsen.com/content/dam/nielsenglobal/de/images/WP-CH/Nielsen_2018_the-future-of-beauty-report.pdf
  • Global Cosmetics Products Market expected to reach USD 805.61 billion by 2023 - Industry Size & Share Analysis, March 13, 2018, Orbis Research, Accessed February 2019, https://www.reuters.com/brandfeatures/venture-capital/article?id=30351
  • Barber, Beauty Schools of America, Accessed February 2019, https://www.bsa.edu/programs/programs/barber/
  • Nail Technician 350 Hours, LaJames College, Accessed February 2019, http://lajames.edu/nail-technology/
  • Cosmetology, Sandhills Community College, Accessed February 2019, http://www.sandhills.edu/cosmetology-associate-degree-course-requirements-2018/
Cosmetology Schools
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