Cosmetologists in the United States must complete an associate’s degree in a state licensed cosmetology program. Many positions also require a high school diploma or a GED.
It takes around 9 months to 1 year to become a cosmetologist.
In order to be licensed as a cosmetologist, individuals must graduate from an accredited cosmetology school or program. The typical cosmetology program lasts 9 months and leads to an associate’s degree. The student will also receive instruction in general knowledge areas such as scalp disease, nail enhancement safety, hair styling principles, make up application, and more.
The student will also learn and get to practice their haircutting and styling, hair color treatments, chemical texture services, manicures, pedicures, applying acrylic nails, massages, facials, eyebrow shaping, waxing, and other beauty techniques or treatments depending on the program and the coursework chosen. Some programs may also offer business courses in salon management.
All cosmetologists must be licensed by their state. The specific requirements vary from state to state, but the most common requirements include:
- Must have a high school diploma or GED
- Must be at least 16 years old
- Must have graduated from a state-licensed cosmetology program
- Must have passed the state licensing exam
The state licensing exam may consist of both a written exam, and in some cases a practical or oral test as well. Some states have agreements whereas licensed practitioners in one state can apply for a license in another state without taking the local state exam, and/or receiving additional training. For more details on licensing, consult with the licensing body within your state.
See our listing of the top cosmetology schools & training programs
If you’d like to know more about becoming a cosmetologist, you can request more information.