How Long Does It Take To Get A Cosmetology Degree?

If you’re considering going into Cosmetology as a career, you might be wondering just how long will it take to get a degree if you choose to go that route?

While most students embarking on a degree are looking at a minimum of three to four years, most cosmetology degrees can be completed in one or two years, or in some cases slightly less.

Cosmetology Field Is Growing

The beauty industry is certainly booming with over one million practicing cosmetologists working in the US today. This figure does not include hairdressers which would likely increase the total to over five million.

Cosmetology is an important business as more and more people are keen to spend money on self-improvement and well-being. While every cosmetologist must be fully licensed by the state they work in, and by law are required to display their license in their shops, not every practician has a degree.

However, more and more experienced cosmetologists are recognizing the advantages a degree could bring to their business and many are retraining to achieve better qualifications.

Why Having A Cosmetology Degree Is Important

There is a wide range of cosmetology programs available in schools in every state, but gaining a degree has become more important than ever in this line of business. Why?

For two reasons:

  • Firstly, as consumer demand increases, some of the treatments are becoming more complicated and require a wider range of skills; short programs do not deliver the depth needed to equip cosmetologists with the skills and knowledge required.
  • Secondly, as many more people are turning to this line of work, clients are becoming more selective than ever before and many will only consider allowing fully qualified staff to work on their bodies, often checking credentials beforehand and actively searching for those with a degree.

Why Cosmetology Degrees Are Becoming More Popular

The number of people looking to undertake a degree in cosmetology is increasing for a number of reasons.

  • Many practicing cosmetologists are now looking to retrain or add to their credentials by taking a degree.
  • Many others are embarking on a career change and are attracted to the income potential and possible self-employment prospects offered by cosmetology.
  • Add to that the high number of school leavers with their hearts set on working in the beauty industry and it is easy to see why a degree in cosmetology is so much in demand.

Full-Time Vs Part-Time School

It takes a surprisingly short time to achieve a cosmetology degree. While most students embarking on a degree are looking at a minimum of three to four years, most cosmetology degrees can be completed in one or two years, or in some cases slightly less.

This would only be possible for people working full time on their degree. There are other programs available which are part-time, allowing those who are retraining to continue to work in their current jobs for some of the time to guarantee some income. Obviously this will extend the time it takes to complete.

Other students who like to opt for part-time courses include stay-at-home moms who are juggling family commitments with going back to school. The average associate degree takes around two years to complete.

Specialized Cosmetology Programs

There are also a number of different cosmetology programs available which can be completed more quickly than others depending on the depth of the course.

Some focus on one or two areas of cosmetology, developing graduates who are highly specialized in one or two areas but unable to undertake other kinds of health or beauty treatments.

Others cover a vast range of skills, creating cosmetologists who can work on all aspects of health and beauty. These larger schools with extended programs obviously offer degrees that will take a little longer to complete.

Cosmetology School And Practical Training

Another factor affecting the length of the degree includes time spent working as an intern or completing the practical element of the course. Some cosmetology schools have fully set up salons which offer services to the public at reduced cost and are a great way for students to experience real-life working conditions under the supervision of their experienced tutors.

Other schools have approved salons throughout the state where students have to work for an agreed number of hours, treating customers under the supervision of the salon owner and observing more complicated treatments undertaken by other staff.

This practical element of the work is vital for two reasons:

  • Firstly, it gives the student first-hand experience of exactly what working in a salon, or even managing their own business, is really like. Being able to put customers at ease is a skill that can not be learned from a textbook or classroom environment.
  • Secondly, a working salon is able to furnish a student with a wealth of experiences from a variety of different treatments on offer. Being able to watch the experienced staff work on real customers gives the student an excellent opportunity to hone their skills.
  • Thirdly, the student themselves has the opportunity to work with increasing independence in preparation for “going-it-alone” when they complete their degrees.

Different programs vary in the number of hours of practical experience required for their degree, and this can be linked to the opening hours of the salon as well as the range of treatments being studied. Students focusing on one or two types of treatment may be directed to include more or fewer hours of practical learning depending on where they work.

Cosmetology Schools Offers A Large Curriculum

Some degrees include a wider range of programs that students can opt to include to extend their skills. For example, a student specializing in skincare may opt to add on a nail care program with a view to being able to offer a wider range of services when they qualify.

These extra classes might make the degree take a little longer to complete, but will be very valuable in the long term due to the increased career opportunities that follow.

Some graduates choose to set themselves up as self-employed, either specializing in one particular field or offering a wider range of services to increase earning potential and customer loyalty. Others might work in a spa or salon, either completing a range of general services or being responsible for one particular area of care, such as skincare or even makeup.

Business Education In Cosmetology School

As well as beauty therapy skills, graduates need business skills in order to be able to work for themselves and this forms an element of most programs.

One of the best things about becoming self-employed in the beauty industry is the ability to be your own boss and work flexibly, although this can come with its own issues, too. Some parents like to work part-time, perhaps when the children are at school, and being self-employed can allow you to arrange your appointments at a time that suits you.

Many choose to offer mobile services, visiting customers in their own homes rather than paying overheads for a shop of their own. Others might set up a large shop and look to employ more staff to offer a wider range of bespoke treatments. The choice is yours!

Final Words

If you are thinking of embarking on a cosmetology degree you need to have a clear idea of the sorts of treatments you would like to offer and whether you want to specialize in one or two types of therapy or offer a more general selection.

Do your homework and look at the beauty industry in your local area to have an idea of where your future employment might take you. Of course, many graduates choose to travel on completion of their degree.

You also need to explore the range of different cosmetology degrees available and whether you want to look at an accelerated program or if you are devoted to becoming more highly skilled. Remember, you will need customer service and financial learning as well as beauty therapy skills.

As more and more people take better care of themselves and include beauty therapy as part of their regular routine, there are plenty of employment prospects in the industry. It is a rewarding and enjoyable career which can be flexible enough to fit around family or take you as far as you want to go. A degree in cosmetology could open the doors to a fascinating future.