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Associate of Cosmetology: Degree Overview

Find out what types of skills can be learned in an associate's program in cosmetology. Learn about the job and salary forecast for cosmetologists, along with general licensure information.

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Essential Information

In an associate's degree program in cosmetology, students learn to cut and style hair, perform manicures and pedicures and provide skin care treatments. Many community colleges, vocational schools and private institutions offer these 2-year programs. Graduation from an approved cosmetology school is often required in order to become a licensed cosmetologist, along with successfully completing a state exam. Students should check with their state for more detailed licensure requirements.

Students typically need a high school education to gain acceptance into a cosmetology associate's degree program. However, with approval from the proper authorities, some programs accept current high school students.

Course Topics

Curriculum for an associate's degree in cosmetology includes instruction on beauty services, as well as information on identifying hair and skin disorders, sanitation and business skills. Business classes are valuable for cosmetology students because, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many cosmetologists are self-employed (www.bls.gov). Some even go on to start their own personal care businesses. State laws and regulations are integrated in the coursework and students usually participate in practical education through student salons or clinics. Typical cosmetology classes include:

  • Hair cutting
  • Hair styling
  • Nail care
  • Skin
  • Make-up application
  • State regulations
  • Salon management
  • Health and safety

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The BLS forecasts a 13% growth rate for cosmetologists and other personal care jobs from 2012 to 2022. This fast as average increase is thanks to population growth and a rising number of spas and nail salons. Entry-level cosmetologists should find some ease in gaining employment, although competition for positions with the highest paying employers is fierce and usually acquired by the most experienced.

In May 2013, cosmetologists and hairdressers earned an annual mean salary of $27,530, reported the BLS. The industries that employ a large number of cosmetologists are health and personal care stores, personal care services and nursing care facilities. Cosmetologists are often responsible for acquiring and retaining their own clients. Experience plays a vital role in a cosmetologist's salary, as do the location and size of the cosmetologist's employer.

Licensure Information

All cosmetologists must obtain state licensure to practice. Each state sets its own qualifications for licensure, but the BLS stated that, in general, cosmetologists need a high school diploma or equivalent, be of a minimum age and graduate from a state-licensed cosmetology school. In addition to the written examination, some states include an applied or oral examination.

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Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • Florida (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Lincoln College of Technology include:
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Associate
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
      • Cosmetology and Related Services
        • Beauty Salon Management
      • Culinary Arts and Culinary Services
  • School locations:
    • California (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
      • Communication Studies
      • Comparative Language Studies and Services
      • English Language and Literature
      • Foreign Language and Literature
  • School locations:
    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Harvard University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
      • Dental
      • Medical and Health Preparatory Sciences
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Public Health and Safety
  • School locations:
    • Pennsylvania (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
      • Dental
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Ethics and Bioethics
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Mental Health Services
      • Nursing Professions
      • Public Health and Safety
      • Veterinary Medicine and Clinical Sciences
  • School locations:
    • Rhode Island (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Brown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
      • Medical Ethics and Bioethics
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Public Health and Safety
  • School locations:
    • North Carolina (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Duke University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Nursing Professions
      • Therapeutic and Rehabilitation Professions
  • School locations:
    • Indiana (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Notre Dame include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
      • Medical and Health Preparatory Sciences
  • School locations:
    • Columbia (D.C.) (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Georgetown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Nursing Professions
      • Optometric and Ophthalmic Services
      • Public Health and Safety
  • School locations:
    • Tennessee (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Vanderbilt University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
      • Communication Disorders Sciences
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Nursing Professions
      • Public Health and Safety
  • School locations:
    • Florida (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Florida include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
      • Agricultural Business
      • Animal Science
      • Food Sciences and Technologies
      • Plant Science
      • Soil Science

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Avg. Wages For Related Jobs

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics