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Cosmetology is the art of helping people look the way they want through hairstyling and other beauty treatments. A cosmetologist needs not only great haircutting and styling skills, they also need to understand peoples’ personal aspirations about how they want to look.

If you would like to work in cosmetology you will need some training from a cosmetology school. Your training will give you plenty of job opportunities in the busy cosmetology industry. You may work in a salon as a hair-stylist, manicurist, or make-up advisor. You will also find opportunities to work in the sale and marketing of cosmetology products if you want to try something different.

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Pursuing a Career in Cosmetology

Training to become a cosmetologist means aspiring to make people feel beautiful for a living. If you want to break out of the conventional career path, an education in cosmetology can help you along.

Required Career Training
For most cosmetology professions, career training isn't optional. Rather, it's a mandatory step towards earning your license. While training for manicurists and pedicurists typically requires less time, full-time cosmetology training generally takes nine months to complete. In addition, cosmetologists must be at least 16 years old, hold a high school diploma or GED, and complete a licensing exam.

Hiring managers in the beauty industry typically prefer or require prior education among the specialists they hire. If you're hoping to work in an area with high competition, you may consider an associate's degree over a certificate or diploma. The more educational experience you have, the stronger your resume may appear to a hiring manager in the field.

Typical Cosmetology Coursework
Take a look at some typical cosmetology coursework. Specific programs may differ based on your specialization and degree or certificate program.

  • Bacteriology and decontamination
  • Hair structure and color
  • Advanced hair styling
  • Nail airbrushing techniques

Coursework is designed to give you a solid foundation for your training without wasting time with general education coursework. You can move through school faster, which means you can get to work sooner.

Work For Yourself as a Cosmetologist
Nearly half of all barbers, cosmetologists, and personal appearance workers are self-employed. Whether you're ready to work for yourself or with a team of dedicated professionals, cosmetology training can take you there.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists earned mean annual wages of $25,760 in 2007. That's just a few members of the cosmetology industry; here are a few other popular careers:

  • Manicurists and pedicurists: $22,020
  • Skin care specialists: $30,600
  • Makeup artists, theatrical and performance: $40,710

Salaries can vary based on location, experience, and training. Expect the highest salaries to go to skilled, trained professionals with some experience in the industry. Self-employed workers have the additional challenge of word-of-mouth advertising and other business necessities. Additional business training may be ideal if you're hoping to work for yourself or start your own business.

Enjoy a Bright Career Future
While no career training program can guarantee a particular career or salary, formal training is a smart first step towards working in the cosmetology industry. According to the BLS, job opportunities are expected to be good across the industry. The biggest hiring jumps are expected for miscellaneous personal appearance workers, including skin care specialists. 

When you enroll in a cosmetology program, you don't have to pick your specialization right away. For a well-rounded training course, try out different courses in hair, nails, and skin care. You can better determine your strengths and learn how to improve. From there, you can personalize your education and eventual career.