Cosmetology is a profession dedicated to providing grooming and beauty services to the public. If you enjoy beauty, style and fashion, cosmetology can be a fulfilling career, though you'll need to complete a training program before starting work. Those who succeed in the profession are usually creative, personable people who are capable of attracting and maintaining a large clientele.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, cosmetologists need to stay aware of fashion trends, have good communication skills, manage their time well and be able to stand on their feet for long periods of time. As a cosmetologist, you'll need to be up to date in your knowledge of beauty and hair trends, as your clients will want to duplicate the looks they see on television or in magazines. You'll also need to be able to listen to and communicate with your clients as you guide them to suitable styles and treatments.
Every state has a licensing commission or agency that sets the standards for cosmetology practice. To get your license, you'll have to graduate from a school that is recognized as an education provider by your state's commission. You'll also have to pass a licensing examination, which usually consists of both a written exam and a practical demonstration of your skills.
Cosmetology schools, also called "beauty schools," provide training in several different aspects of beauty culture, including hair cutting, styling, makeup and nail care. While in beauty school, you'll take classroom courses, practice on your fellow students and, eventually, you'll work on members of the public in your school's student clinic. The exact number of classroom and clinic hours needed to graduate is different in each state, though The American Association of Beauty Schools states that the average is between 1400 and 1600 hours. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that most full time programs take about nine months to complete.
Maintaining a Cosmetology License
Once you get your cosmetology license, you'll need to renew it every few years. In many states, you'll be expected to complete continuing education classes between license renewals. Course requirements vary by state, but you may have to take refresher classes in sanitation, safety or even cosmetology law.
- US. Bureau of Labor Statistics: How to Become a Barber, Hairdresser, or Cosmetologist
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Barbers, Hairdressers, and Cosmetologists
- State of Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services: Cosmetology Practitioner -- Licensing
- The American Association of Cosmetology Schools: How Do I Get Started?
- The American Association of Cosmetology Schools: Cosmetology Career Packet
Lainie Petersen writes about business, real estate and personal finance, drawing on 25 years experience in publishing and education. Petersen's work appears in Money Crashers, Selling to the Masses, and in Walmart News Now, a blog for Walmart suppliers. She holds a master's degree in library science from Dominican University.