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2021 Cosmetology Degree Guide

Have you ever dreamed of doing the hair and makeup for a celebrity on the red carpet? Major in Cosmetology and your dream may become a reality.

Cosmetology experts help people look and feel good about themselves. You will be equipped with the skills to tame bad hair days and accentuate natural features with makeup. Classes in areas such as hair cutting and coloring, skin care, manicuring, and salon business practices will also teach students how to follow safety and health standards and run a salon or spa while giving clients the best experience possible.

Degrees in general Cosmetology are available, but due to the vastness of the major, students decide to concentrate in a specific area. Some of the many concentrations you may choose from include: Barbering, Electrology and Electrolysis Technician, Make-Up Artist, Hair Stylist and Hair Design, Facial Treatment Specialist, Aesthetician and Skin Care Specialist, Nail Technician and Manicurist, Permanent Cosmetics and Tattooing, Salon Management, Cosmetology, and Barber/Styling.

An Increase in Cosmetology Degrees

#238 Most Popular Major
104k Degrees Awarded
1.6% Increase in Graduates

In 2018-2019, cosmetology was the 238th most popular major nationwide with 103,674 degrees awarded. This is a difference of 1,668 over the prior year, a growth of 1.6%.

The United States has 132 different schools where you can get a degree in cosmetology. Explore this or one of our many other custom cosmetology rankings further below.

What Are The Requirements For a Degree in Cosmetology

Cosmetologists work directly with people, placing a high value on strong interpersonal and customer service skills. Professionals must pay close attention to detail and be good listeners when the customer explains the service and final result they want. Cosmetologists must also be creative and up to date on the newest trends.

Many jobs in cosmetology are part time with hours both during the week and on weekends. Those who decide to be self-employed may work more weekly hours and set their own schedule. Hairdresser, stylists, and some other specialists can expect to spend a lot of time on their feet.

Most cosmetology programs are available as associate's degrees. Once students finish the degree, they must become licensed in the state they wish to practice. An internship in the field is helpful to students who wish to gain hands-on experience while working towards their degree.

Prior Education for a Cosmetology Program

A high school diploma or equivalent is typically required for most cosmetology degree programs and many students will need a minimum GPA and SAT/ACT score depending on the school. Once you obtain your degree, additional cosmetology certifications required to pursue a career in this field.

A bachelor's degree is the most common level of education achieved by those in careers related to cosmetology, with approximately 10.0% of workers getting one. People currently working in careers related to cosmetology tend obtained the following education levels.

Level of Education Percentage of Workers
Post-Secondary Certificate 45.8%
High School Diploma 15.7%
Less than a High School Diploma 12.4%
Bachelor’s Degree 10.5%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 8.5%

The chart below shows what degree level those who work in cosmetology have obtained.

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The education level required is different depending on the cosmetology career you are seeking.

Career Opportunities for A Degree In Cosmetology Graduate

Average Number of Jobs
$15.6k Average Starting Salary
14% Growth Job Outlook 2016-26

The majority of Cosmetology graduates work in a salon, spa, or barbershop. Some graduates are self-employed and work out of their home or rented space.

Solid Growth Projected for Cosmetology Careers

Want a job when you graduate with your cosmetology degree? Cosmetology careers are expected to grow 13.5% between 2016 and 2026.

The following options are some of the most in-demand careers related to cosmetology.

Occupation Name Projected Jobs Expected Growth
Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists 697,400 13.0%
Personal Service Worker Supervisors 316,500 14.6%
Manicurists and Pedicurists 143,000 13.2%
Skincare Specialists 69,700 13.7%
Barbers 64,000 13.5%

How Much Money Do People With a Cosmetology Degree Make?

Cosmetology graduates between 2015-2017 reported earning an average of $15,638 in the 2017-2018 timeframe. Earnings can range from as low as $4,600 to as high as $27,700. As you might expect, salaries for cosmetology graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.

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Highest Paid Cosmetology Careers

Salaries for cosmetology graduates can vary widely by the occupation you choose as well. The following table shows the top 5 highest paying careers cosmetology grads often go into.

Occupation Name Median Average Salary
Makeup Artists $72,030
Personal Service Worker Supervisors $41,710
Skincare Specialists $36,350
Barbers $33,220
Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists $30,190

Getting Your Cosmetology Degree

With over 4,962 different cosmetology degree programs to choose from, finding the best fit for you can be a challenge. Fortunately you have come to the right place. We have analyzed all of these schools to come up with hundreds of unbiased cosmetology school rankings to help you with this.

Study Areas in Cosmetology

One of 3 majors within the Personal & Culinary Services area of study, Cosmetology has other similar majors worth exploring.

Majors Similar to Cosmetology

Related Major Annual Graduates
Culinary Arts 26,675
Funeral & Mortuary Science 1,965
Other Personal & Culinary Services 320

View All Cosmetology Related Majors >

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