What is a cosmetologist?

A cosmetologist is a beauty professional who is licensed to provide various hair, skin, and nail services. There are different specialties that fall under each category, making it a broad field.

With a cosmetology license, you can fulfill roles such as:


Nail technician

Salon manager

Cosmetology instructor


and more!

Exploring other fields in addition to cosmetology can broaden your job opportunities as well.

Cosmetologists cannot be barbers without additional licensing. This means they cannot perform services such as shaving hair with a razor or straight razor without additional training.

If you know you aren’t the chatty, bubbly type that is common among hairdressers, or you know you’d rather focus on the specialty of skincare, you can always just get your esthetician license.

In most cases, you can take a shorter program that focuses only on skincare. You would be prepared for your esthetics state exam and, if you pass, you would be licensed to practice many forms of skincare – but not hair or nails.

Connecticut is the only state where this does not apply. Connecticut does not have a separate license for estheticians, so you would have to complete an entire cosmetology course even if you just wanted to focus on the skin care aspect of things.

How do I become a cosmetologist?


To become a cosmetologist, you must be at least sixteen to eighteen years old, depending on your state laws.

Some states also require you have a high school diploma or GED, while others require schooling up to a certain grade level.

If you meet your state’s requirements, you can begin cosmetology school or an apprenticeship at a workplace licensed in cosmetology. Apprenticeships are not allowed in all states, so check in with your state board if that is a path you are planning to take.

Every state has a designated number of educational hours required before you can take a test to obtain your cosmetology license. This number varies, but you can generally complete your hours in less than a year if you are dedicated and take many classes.

However, some states require a timeframe of up to two years of experience, along with your educational hours. This could slow you down considerably if you wanted to be a beautician just because of the quicker schooling.

You also have the option, if you’re a busy person, to complete your hours more slowly. There’s absolutely no rush! Some people take years to obtain their licenses because they have other things going on in their lives.

Take our free cosmetology practice test to see if you’re ready to pass the exam!

After obtaining your license, you will also need to continue your education with additional hours every so often. This is required in order to renew your license and continue legally working as a cosmetologist.

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