Cosmetology Programs and Careers Q&A

What careers can I pursue with a hair and skin care specialist certificate?

With this certificate, you’ll have a diverse range of career options. If you pursue your licensure in cosmetology, you can opt to specialize in anything from hair styling and coloring to makeup artistry to nail technique. If you’re more interested in the esthetician path, you can pursue basic skin care roles, or work toward more advanced, medical-grade skin care practices. Learn about your career options.

What certificate programs will I take?

If you opt to practice general cosmetology, you’ll need to complete your cosmetology program before sitting for your state board certification exam. If you plan to pursue a specialized area of cosmetology, you’ll also take specific courses on top of your basic training. The same is true for estheticians; you can sit for your licensure exam as soon as you finish your program, or you can choose to continue your education to learn more advanced skin care practices.

What can I expect after I submit a request for information to a school?

After you submit a request for information from a school or program, you’ll be contacted by them for more specific information. When they contact you, you should take the opportunity to ask questions and decide if their program is a good fit for you.

Is financial aid available for cosmetology school?

Financial aid is available from a variety of sources. Government financial aid is the most common, but before you can be considered for aid, you’ll need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Other types of financial aid include scholarships, grants, private loans and PLUS loans.

What types of courses will I take?

Topics taught in cosmetology school include cutting hair, nail care, skin care and makeup application, sanitation and common skin diseases. If you choose a specific path, such as an esthetician career, your program will include relevant coursework.

Is it better to work for myself or an employer?

There are great opportunities for cosmetologists at spas, salons and resorts, among other workplaces. Working for an employer typically  means you’ll get medical benefits and a more structured schedule. When you’re first starting out, working for an employer may be best since there will be a built-in client base. Working for yourself gives you the opportunity to make your own hours and earn a larger paycheck once you’ve established a large client base.

If I work for myself, what else will I need to learn?

Running your own business requires a certain skill set. You should take classes in business administration and accounting in order to keep books, manage payroll and keep up on health insurance policy. If you plan on hiring employees you’ll want to take some courses in management or human resources.

Does school program accreditation matter for cosmetology careers?

When a program is accredited, it means the curriculum has been approved by an industry-recognized accrediting organization. In the cosmetology field, there are several organizations that accredit, including the National Accrediting Commission of Arts and Sciences (NACCAS).

What type of licensing (if any) will I need?

Cosmetologists, hair stylists and others in the personal care industry need to be licensed by their state. Each state has different licensing requirements, such as education hours and exams, so check with your state board.

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