Frequently Asked Questions about Cosmetology Teaching Programs and Careers

Many professional cosmetologists decide that teaching is something they’d like to pursue. If you’re considering this path, start by reading these popular questions about teaching beauty school classes. First off, learn how to determine the license requirements in your state. That’s the most important thing to figure out right off the bat. After that, we’ll brief you on the typical training requirements and courses in a cosmetology teacher program. You can even read about what a typical workday is like for a beauty school instructor. Last, we’ll cover what kind of salary expectations you should have in this role.

License Requirements

Does teaching cosmetology school require a special degree of certification?

In order to be a cosmetology teacher, you must first be a licensed cosmetologist. The same applies if you want to teach esthetics and skin care – you must have your esthetician or cosmetology license. After complementing your license with work experience, candidates are then eligible to enroll in a cosmetology teacher training program . Candidates must complete a specific number of hours in a cosmetology teacher training program before you will be permitted to take a board certified exam to obtain their license to teach.

Each state has different minimum work experience, training and exam requirements for being eligible to teach beauty school. Some states require a minimum number of hours or years of working experience. Some states require education in a cosmetology instructor training program. Still other states require you to have your cosmetology license, and then get post-secondary education (like an Associate’s Degree or Bachelor’s Degree) in teaching. Nearly all states license cosmetology instructors, and require a written and/or practical exam be eligible to teach.


Training requirements to become a cosmetology school educator differ from state to state, but typically candidates pursuing a career in teaching cosmetology are expected to have a number of years of experience working professionally in the field. Some schools that offer courses in teaching cosmetology may lessen the number of hours required in course study and training if their work experience is extensive.

So as an example, the state Texas Dept. of Licensing and Regulations requires cosmetology instructors to have their cosmetologist operator license, and then 750 hours of additional cosmetology instructor training. New York ’s Dept. of State Division of Licensing Services requires instructors to have their cosmetology license, and then a set amount of work experience. In California , the Board of Barbering & Cosmetology requires instructors to get accredited through post-secondary education.

As you can see, each state is dramatically different in how they regulate this profession, so visit the state instructor license requirements page for your state to find out the required hours for becoming a cosmetology teacher in your state.

Of course esthetics, cosmetology, barber and other instructors are expected to be knowledgeable, skilled and experienced in their specific trade. If you are going to teach hairstyling, you should be an expert hairstylist. If you’re going to be teaching esthetics, you should have mastered your skin care skills. You must also know all about the laws and regulations in your state pertaining to that specific field. In order to help others, you must help yourself first and truly become an expert at the top of your field before you can pass that onto others.

The knowledge and skills required to be a good beauty school teacher include the natural inclination and ability to train and teach others, and identifying others’ educational needs, strengths and weaknesses. You must be comfortable speaking in front of at least small groups, in an almost performance-like environment. You should have a knack for coaching and developing those around you, such as peers, employees or students. Good instructors can help motivate students, and provide guidance to them. You must be comfortable giving both positive and critical feedback in helpful, constructive and tactful ways. Communication should be one of your strongest skills, not just to your students, but also to your peer instructors, and the school managers/owners. You should be dependable, have great self-control, a sincere concern for others, have an excellent attention to detail, and be highly adaptable to change.

View our complete cosmetology instructor job description for a more detailed outlook on what you can expect if you decide to pursue this career path. Does it sound like a good fit for you so far? If so, find teacher training schools near to learn your options.

Cosmetology instructors must possess a thorough understanding of the cosmetology industry and hair, nail and skin care services. In addition, you must be able to effectively communicate to deliver lessons and be able to practice patience with students as they learn new skills and lessons. It is also important that cosmetology teachers are well-organized individuals as you will need to maintain accurate student attendance and performance records, and keep track of multiple lesson plans. You should also be prepared to handle multiple classes, possibly with students of different experiences and skill sets. This is an extensive, but not all-encompassing, list of the skills, knowledge and aptitudes a successful cosmetology instructor must have:

  • Knowledge of multiple teaching methods, and education principles, practices and methodologies
  • Understanding of competency-based curriculum, evaluation and grading
  • Competency in administering tests and recording grades
  • Good organizational skills for recording and reporting attendance and performance data
  • Proficiency in developing a curriculum and creating daily lesson plans
  • Credibility and authority as an expert in the beauty trade you’re teaching
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Ability to demonstrate hair, makeup, nails and/or skin care services and walk students through the procedures step-by-step
  • Ability to lead class lectures and student discussions, coach and critique hands-on skills, and guide students through book learning and assignments
  • Comfort and confidence delivering constructive and critical feedback to students
  • Comfort interacting with many personality types, including angry, indifferent, challenging or emotional students or parents.
  • Understanding of inventory management and budgeting for required materials
  • Ability to recognize when students need more advanced training because they’re picking up the material quickly, and alternatively, when students are struggling and need additional help and could benefit from a beauty tutor.

Beauty school professors must also be open to feedback – both positive and constructive – from students and fellow instructors on how to improve their teaching abilities. Being teachable is one of the most powerful assets a cosmetology teacher can have. If you are truly open to feedback, you may even consider asking your classes to anonymously give feedback on a site like . Your students will appreciate you asking for insights and feedback on what you do well and what you could improve.

If you don’t have all of these skills yet, or have areas you feel you could improve – not to worry! The whole purpose of attending a cosmetology instructor training program is to prepare you to be able to successfully lead a class at a beauty school.


sponsored content, school availability varies by location


sponsored content, school availability varies by location


sponsored content, school availability varies by location


sponsored content, school availability varies by location


sponsored content, school availability varies by location


sponsored content, school availability varies by location

Career Options

Of course the main job opportunities for people who get the training and practice to get licensed as cosmetology instructors will be in beauty schools, esthetics schools, nail schools and other institutions. But as a licensed cosmetology teacher, you are not limited only to the classroom! Your cosmetology instruction training can give you freedom to not only teach new beauty school students, but to have more options in the beauty industry. Some of these options for you could include:

  • Cosmetology School Instructor
  • Esthetics, Nail, Barber or Makeup Instructor
  • Advanced Beauty Course Instructor
  • Beauty School Manager
  • Beauty School Owner
  • Salon or Spa Manager
  • Platform Artist
  • Independent Educational Consultant
  • Public/Circuit/Conference/Guest Speaker
  • Workshop Leader

The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists employment data for “Vocational Education Teachers, Postsecondary,” but not specifically for the cosmetology trade. The BLS (2015) says that job demand for postsecondary vocational education instructors is expected to increase 12% between now and the year 2022, adding approximately 16,100 jobs during that time. Currently, there are approximately 121,200 vocational educators employed nationwide.

There is always a need to continue your education even after you’ve reached cosmetology instructor status. Most states require beauty school teachers to complete a minimum number of continuing education hours during each licensure period in order to renew and maintain their instructor license. This advanced training keeps teachers abreast of the latest trends and advancements within the cosmetology industry, and ensures that you can teach to the latest techniques, trends and topics in the business. The world of beauty is an ever-evolving thing, and cosmetology instructors simply can’t afford to become outdated. The future generations of cosmetologists depend on you.

There are also opportunities to advance professionally as a cosmetology instructor. Many beauty school educators aspire to manage or own their own schools and student salons, become guest speakers at other schools or in professional beauty organizations , or juggle owning their own beauty business in tandem with teaching at the cosmetology school. Often beauty schools also have advanced job titles like “Senior Educator” or “Beauty School Manager” that teachers can actively pursue.

Work Day

Cosmetology instructors are responsible for teaching beauty school students the basics of cosmetology, and leading the class through the required coursework that prepares them for board exams and to work professionally in the field.

In order for beauty school students to gain full understanding of the art and science of cosmetology, instructors must also be able to explain aspects of physiology and anatomy of the body as they relate to cosmetology.

Furthermore, it is the cosmetology teacher's responsibility to ensure their students grasp the importance of safe practices for their clients, themselves and their work environments. This may be accomplished through a variety of teaching techniques and methods. You must supervise students as they learn new skills, and especially closely when they begin taking on real clients in the student salon.

A core responsibility of the cosmetology instructor is to prepare lesson plans and demonstrations for their classes that align with the state’s curriculum requirements. The course of study should include objectives for the program and the students, as well as structured daily lesson plans.

Cosmetology instructors are often required to prepare and submit program budgets each year, as well as request materials and supplies for the classroom within that budget. Many schools ask their educators to get involved in the community and make connections with salons, representatives from the beauty business, conferences and other relevant people to help students network and learn from real working professionals.

You must ensure the proper equipment, tools, textbooks and supplemental materials are available to students so you can properly prepare their students for cosmetology exams and careers. It is the duty of cosmetology teachers to monitor and track the progress and performance of each of their students. You must be able to identify problem areas for students and provide the necessary support to help their students master their lessons throughout the course of the program. You must be comfortable offering constructive feedback to students to help them improve, and you must be firm in implementing the policies and procedures in place for the school.

Beauty school teachers are expected to prepare students for entry-level employment in the business. As an educator, you must help students develop the skills, knowledge and professional traits to be successful in the trade. Some schools offer job placement services to recent graduates, and educators may be expected to facilitate those connections or provide letters of recommendation for students.

If you think you have the aptitude to become a great educator, classes are enrolling now! Click the button below to find schools and get started.

Once you get licensed to teach at a beauty school, you can expect to work in typical air-conditioned classrooms and hands-on student salon settings. Just like any other college teacher, you will lead a classroom for in-class lecture and discussion to teach the material in the curriculum, but then you will perform demonstrations and offer students practice opportunities as you oversee the work and guide them on how to improve their skills.

Instructors may supplement the curriculum with online courses as more and more states are allowing this kind of training within the standard curriculum (though each state’s regulations are unique, so be sure to talk to your local board of cosmetology). Cosmetology teachers may spend long periods of time on their feet throughout a typical work-day and work fluctuating hours depending on the school you work for. Often there will be multiple educators at a school, so you will need to work on a team to ensure students are getting the most valuable, high quality education possible to prepare them for the board exams.


No matter what kind of cosmetology career you want, you need to develop realistic salary expectations. You might already have an idea of how much a beautician makes, based on talking to people you know and other research you’ve done. But it’s a topic you’ll want to address fully when you compare beauty school options.

Here are some quick facts about cosmetology salary expectations:

  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics (2017) says that the mean annual wage for cosmetologists is $27,940 per year.
  • The BLS numbers often do not account for full-time and part-time cosmetologists, experience in the field, and tips that cosmetologists receive – meaning salaries could be higher.
  • City, state, and regional data could impact your salary as well.

Factors That Can Impact Cosmetology Salaries

The National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences (NACCAS) reveals that some of the main factors that determine cosmetology career earnings and salary ranges include:

  • Size and location of the salon
  • Hours worked
  • Tipping habits of clients
  • Competition from other nearby salons and shops
  • The cosmetologist's customer service skills

All of these variables can impact your salary, the success of your salon, and your ability to retain clients.

According to The United States Department of Labor, many cosmetologists, and other personal appearance workers receive commissions. Commissions are based on the price of the services you provide, or you may earn a salary based on hours worked. Nearly every professional in the cosmetology industry receives tips and commissions for the products they sell and those tips often go unreported .

You can also get bonuses for referrals and sales…

Some salons pay bonuses or commissions to employees on top of their regular cosmetology salary if you bring in new business or sell products. In fact, boosting retail sales is a way for salons and spas to cushion their profits. Even if you work as an independent contractor or freelance beautician, consider how you can boost revenue by promoting products you believe in,

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