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How to Become a Cosmetologist: 5 Key Steps to Cosmetology

How to Become a Cosmetologist

April 2 2020 - Did you know that about 866,300 people worked in cosmetology in 2016?

Careers in cosmetology allow for individuals to improve their clients' appearance and self-confidence by offering services for their skin, hair, and nails.

Cosmetology is also a lucrative career for those who make the most of it. If you're ready to become a cosmetologist, you came to the right place.

Read on to learn the steps for how to become a cosmetologist.

What is a Cosmetologist?

A cosmetologist is a beauty professional who provides services to clients such as hair, nails, waxing, and more. The field allows for cosmetologists to specialize in one or more areas of service.

Types of Cosmetologists

Those who are interested in a career in cosmetology can pick from one of the many areas of specialization. Some of the areas of cosmetology include makeup artists, nail technicians, hairdressers, beauty writer/editor, fashion show stylist, beauty business consultant, and barbers.

Makeup Artists

A makeup artist focuses on using special techniques to improve a person's appearance using cosmetics. Makeup artists who take their career to the next level have even worked in Hollywood for musicians and movie stars.

Those who don't want to make the transition to Hollywood can still have a successful career as a makeup artist.

Some careers for makeup artists include:

  • Film/television makeup artist
  • Bridal makeup
  • Fashion makeup artist
  • Theatre makeup artist

Nail Technician

Nail technicians focus on working on people's nails and offering manicures, pedicures, and specialty nail designs.

Becoming a nail technician is a great opportunity for those who want to stay on top of the latest nail trends or create their own.


Hairdressers are always in high demand because of their multiple skills. Aside from working in a hair salon where they can work with multiple clients, they can also expand their careers and portfolios.

If you want a successful career as a hairdresser, you can grow your client list at the local level. Some of the most successful hairdressers offer their services for weddings, photoshoots, fashion shows, high-end salons, and more.


Cosmetology is not only a career that caters to the ladies -- gentlemen need pampering also. Barbers focus on cutting, trimming, and shaping the hair of their clients.

Not only do they work on hair, but they also groom their clients' facial hair. They use different techniques and tools such as scissors, clippers, razors, combs, and more.

Beauty Blogger

Those who have worked in the beauty industry for a long time and have a lot of wisdom they can share their wisdom with the masses.

Not only can they create a blog to share their personal experience, but they can also work for a beauty magazine.

Fashion Show Stylist

After a successful career in cosmetology, makeup artist or hairdressers can transition to fashion show stylists.

A fashion show stylist works on getting models ready before the catwalk.

Beauty Business Consultant

Once a cosmetologist has an established career, they can work as a beauty consultant. This will give them the opportunity to travel all over the country and share their expertise.

How to Become a Cosmetologist in 5 Steps

Now that you know the different types of career paths, it's time you seriously consider a career in cosmetology. You're only a few steps away from becoming a cosmetologist.

1. Research the Requirements

If you're serious about getting your career in cosmetology started, the first thing you need to do is research training programs.

To enroll in a cosmetology program, you need to be at least 16 years old. You will also need to have completed a high school diploma or a GED. Each state has different regulations, so you might have to do your research.

In some states, for example, some states allow for High School juniors or seniors to enroll part-time in vocational programs to give them a head start.

2. Complete the Cosmetology Training Program

Depending on the program, a well-rounded cosmetology program takes between 9 to 24 months to complete. During the duration of the course, students will learn about hair-styling, skincare, personal appearance, sales, marketing, and more.

On average, students have to complete 1,600 hours of training to graduate from the program. During the duration of the program, cosmetology students will have to attend classes, practice their skills, and pass exams.

Some of the courses in cosmetology include learning about the following:

  • Hair-styling courses that teach about human anatomy, chemistry, wash, cut, and style
  • Chemicals used in coloring hair
  • Chemicals used on chemical peels
  • Learning how to give massages and facials
  • Learning how to wax different body areas such as eyebrows, underarms, legs, and pubic areas
  • Learning about microdermabrasion and how to properly apply it on clients

3. Get Real-Life Training

If you want to further your chances of getting a job once you complete your cosmetology program, you should get real-life training.

While you won't be allowed to work on clients without a license, you can still get a job working in the field. There are many internships or apprentice jobs for cosmetologist students to get their feet wet.

4. Obtain Your License

Once you've completed the training, it's time you study for your license. Although the requirements might vary slightly, all 50 states require students to pass their licensing exams.

The exam has specific questions that all cosmetologists need to know in order to work professionally. All of the questions will test their knowledge of applying products, skincare, haircare, and more.

5. Get a Job

Once fully-licensed, cosmetologists can start the search for their dream job. Those who participated in an apprenticeship program while in school might have some leverage over all other candidates.

Besides a beauty salon, there are other places where a cosmetologist can work. Start by searching for openings in local day spas, barbershops, hotel spas, and more.

Time to Start Your Career in Cosmetology

Now that you know how to become a cosmetologist, it's time you get your new career started. The first thing you need to do is look for a cosmetology program, complete the course work, get all of the required hours, obtain your professional license, and get the dream job.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to learn more, check out the rest of our website.

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