How Long is Cosmetology School & What Will I Learn?
Curious about what each beauty program has to offer?
In the ever-expanding world of beauty services, your career options are plentiful and it can be confusing to choose which path is right for you. Below, we have given you a brief overview of each of the major programs and what you can expect to learn in each, as well as links to other relevant information about each. We hope this helps guide you in your search to finding the right school and career path for you!
If you already know what program is right for you, simply enter your zip code in the box to the right and choose your program from the list. Click "Find Schools" to find colleges near you that offer your desired program!
Jump to Your Question:
- How long is cosmetology school?
- What cosmetology training programs do beauty schools offer?
- What do you learn in cosmetology school?
- What do you learn in esthetician school?
- What do you learn in barber school?
- What do you learn in nail tech school?
- What do you learn in makeup school?
- What do you learn in hair braiding school?
- What do you learn in electrology or laser hair removal school?
- What do you learn in permanent makeup school?
- What do you learn in cosmetology instructor training?
- What do you learn in salon management training?
- What do you learn in massage school?
- What do you learn in fashion design school?
- What are advanced beauty courses?
- VIDEO: What's the difference between the cosmetology programs?
The answer to how long cosmetology school is depends on three factors: which beauty program you enroll in, your state's required hours for that program, and whether you enroll in cosmetology school on a part-time or full-time basis.
A full cosmetology curriculum is the most comprehensive and requires the most training hours; the national average is 1500 to 2100 training hours. The average training hours required for the other beauty programs are as follows: 300 to 600 hours for nail technology and makeup artist programs, 500 for electrology, and 300 to 1500 training hours for esthetics and skin care depending on the state.
In most cases the individual state's required beauty training hours are determined by the state licensing board. For example, a full cosmetology program in Montana requires 2,000 hours, while the same program in New York State only requires 1,000 hours. Overall, how long cosmetology school is varies by each state's training hour requirements.
Regardless of which beauty program you take, exactly how long it will take to complete the required training hours will depend on whether you are enrolled full time or part time. Many full cosmetology programs can be competed in less than two years while some programs in nail technology and esthetics can often be completed within six months. Contact schools near you for more information on how long their programs take to complete.
Beauty schools may offer the following training cosmetology programs, or combination of training programs: cosmetology, esthetics and skin care, electrolysis and laser hair removal, nail technology, makeup, beauty school instructor training. Also, massage therapy and fashion design are becoming increasingly popular programs offered at beauty and cosmetology schools. We are also seeing a rise in demand for permanent makeup training, hair braiding, natural hairstyling, salon management and more.
Beauty school students can elect to take comprehensive cosmetology programs, or they may choose to narrow their focuses to something more specific, like esthetics, nail tech, makeup, or hair only. How long cosmetology school is, the cost of tuition, and the licensing requirements may vary by program and state. Check out our Choosing Between Programs article and How to Choose a Beauty School article to get more help deciding which program is right for you.
The American Heritage dictionary defines cosmetology as “the study or art of cosmetics and their use." When beauty schools say they offer full cosmetology programs it generally refers to the study of hair styling, skin care, nail care, and makeup in one comprehensive program.
Cosmetology schools teach students a host of beauty skills to work with hair, nails, skin, makeup and other beauty procedures. Cosmetology students learn how to choose and apply these services for clients through in-class lectures, the issued textbooks, and hands-on training in student salons. The official program curriculum varies from state to state, but abeauty school student should graduate with a thorough knowledge of all aspects of the beauty industry, but students are certainly permitted to specialize in a specific area or service.
- List of Cosmetology Schools
- How to Become a Cosmetologist
- Cosmetologist Job Description
- Average Cosmetologist Salaries
- Cosmetology Career Options
A beauty school offering esthetician programs in esthetics training refers to the study of applying make-up and performing facials, massages, waxing, and reflexology. Esthetician schools and esthetician programs teach students how to prescribe skin care regimens. Esthetician programs also teach esthetics students how to do facials, waxing, body wraps, laser treatments, anti-aging treatments, facial massages and more.
Students at esthetics and skin care schools will learn about anatomy and skin sciences. Safety and sanitation procedures are also an essential component of every good esthetics program. Esthetics and skin care is definitely a beauty trade, but it is tied very closely to the medical field. A beauty school that offers esthetics programs may also train students to apply makeup and perform reflexology. There are many schools that teach only esthetics and skin care, but esthetician training is often a subset of a comprehensive cosmetology program at a beauty school.
Barber schools teach barbering students traditional and modern, cutting edge skills to cut men's hair. Barber students will learn to cut, trim, color and style men's hair and facial hair. You also learn the art of the shave, and how to successfully perform shaving services. Most barber schools or barber programs within beauty schools will teach you hairstyling, shaving and scalp treatments. Some even teach the fitting and adjusting of wigs, toupees, or artificial hair!
Because barbering is such a traditionally niche, independent business path, some barber schools go so far as to teach important business management and marketing skills to get ahead in the industry. Safety and sanitation is also an important component of barbering school.
Nail technology schools will help students learn the art and science of nail art and design, tips, forms, wraps, gels and more. Nail tech students will learn to shape, file, color and paint nails, as well as perform full manicures and pedicures. Many nail tech schools also teach hand, calf and foot massages as an added value service for clientele. Nail school will teach students about the importance of salon safety and sanitation procedures.
Students of makeup artist school learn how to design and implement creative makeup looks, pair makeup with specific hairstyles, apply full makeup and corrective or spot makeup, outline custom makeup regimens for clientele, and more. Many schools are dedicated solely to makeup or have specific makeup programs, but most often makeup artist certification is learned as a part of a comprehensive cosmetology training program.
A hair braider is a beauty professional that specializes in the art of twisting, braiding, and tying many small braids all over the head. This service is especially popular among African Americans and African or Caribbean immigrants. Hair braiding involves intricately twisting, pulling, shaping, and braiding hair. Some states also include the "loctician" job title in a hair braider's job description, which includes dreadlock care, maintenance and styling. Some states may also include natural hairstyling in this specialty because it focuses primarily on the unique hair needs of black clients.
Electrology, electrolysis or laser hair removal is medically recognized as being a permanent hair removal method for the face and body. In electrolysis training you will learn about the latest hair removal technology. You will learn about consulting with clients about their hair removal needs, and you will get a hands-on education in this near-medical procedure. Electrolysis is a very popular service to get rid of unwanted body hair, so you will learn how to apply laser hair removal methods with the utmost care and accuracy for clientele.
Permanent makeup is a creative and growing industry that attracts individuals who seek to pursue a career in the beauty or medical professions. Permanent makeup is the art and science of using tattoo artistry to apply cosmetic looks more permanently than one's daily makeup routine. Students of permanent makeup school will learn how to tattoo to recreate the look of cosmetics such as eyeliner, lipstick, brow liner, blush, eyeshadow and other makeup products. The field of permanent makeup attracts individuals who are seeking to become a near-medical beauty professional.
Teacher training programs are designed to prepare students who are interested in teaching beauty and cosmetology. Most of the teachers you'll have in beauty school completed a teacher training program, and possibly also some junior instruction. Beauty school teacher training equips potential instructors with all the skills, knowledge and resources necessary to become a successful educator.
Cosmetology teacher classes include practical training and theoretical training. Future beauty teachers will learn how to teach beauty school students using the issued textbooks, in-class lectures, and hands-on training in student salons.
Becoming a cosmetology teacher requires that the individual already be knowledgeable about hair, nails, makeup and skin care from their time in cosmetology school and working in the field. Some cosmetology teacher training classes may include: theory, practical cosmetology, record keeping, lesson planning and classroom management.
- List of Cosmetology Instructor Schools
- How to Become a Cosmetology Instructor
- Cosmetology Teacher Job Description
Salon, spa or barbershop management training may include courses in leadership, customer care and satisfaction, effective salesmanship, advertising, health and safety compliance, business operations, business building, and money management. This may occur in a cosmetology school setting, through a series of third-party advanced classes, or through an internal company program that helps groom employees for growing into leadership roles.
- List of Salon Management Schools
- How to Become a Salon Manager
- Salon, Spa or Barbershop Manager Job Description
Massage therapy is practiced by trained and licensed professionals. They provide specialized care with their clients' medical health in mind. At massage therapist school, massage students learn to manipulate clients' soft tissues, which improves circulation and acts as a "cleanser" of sorts for muscles. Students are taught to provide specialized, tailored care to clients with their medical and holistic health in mind.
Massage therapy students will learn to relieve pain, discomfort and stress for clients through physical pressure and touch. Massage school could teach students to perform a number of techniques such as sports massage, deep tissue massage, chair massage, stone massage, Swedish massage, reflexology, hydrotherapy, and any other new, cutting edge techniques to help clients feel great. Other parts of the curriculum may include anatomy, kinesiology and ethics.
- List of Massage Schools
- How to Become a Massage Therapist
- Massage Therapist Job Description
- Massage Therapist License Requirements
Most fashion design programs require students to complete basic art and design courses and to submit sketches or other examples of their artistic skills in order to be admitted to the program. expect to learn artistic techniques, marketing skills, and how to use computer-aided design (CAD) technology. You will learn about fashion merchandising, and about the creation of textiles and fabrics. You will develop a portfolio that demonstrates your style and skills. You will probably have the opportunity to enter your designs in fashion contests or shows during school.
"Advanced beauty courses" refers to a class that offers a very-in-depth and focused curriculum about a particular topic. Before taking an "advanced class" students will likely be required to have taken basic classes in the same beauty program, or to be already licensed. Sometimes “advanced beauty classes” is actually referring to continuing education hours that you must take to keep your license active in your state.
If you already know you want to pursue a career in a specific field of beauty such as custom hair coloring, acrylic nails or something else, it is a good idea to find a beauty school to attend that offers advanced beauty classes in your niche or specific area of interest. More education in your beauty trade is essential to becoming a true, trusted expert in your field and advanced beauty courses are the perfect way to continue that education.
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