How to Become a Cosmetologist

Overview & Salaries

Recommended Degree:
The right degree for you depends on the industry and company you apply for. Those looking for an entry positions will likely need to complete a state-approve cosmetology program. If you are looking to get into a competitive or advance position, then a bachelors degree along with specific product and treatment certifications can help you stand out in the hiring process.

Start your career path today by signing up for free information from one of our accredited cosmetology schools below that offer programs to help get you started as a cosmetologist.

How Much Do Cosmetologists Make? 
$22,770 (median salary)

Expected Growth from 2012-2020:

Specialization Options:
Makeup, teaching, hair style, and barber

(all information above provided by the 2012 BLS Barbers, Hairdressers and Cosmetologist page) 

The Best Places to Become a Cosmetologist

An education in cosmetic arts will open doors within a variety of industries. Your college instructors will assist in refining your application and artistry skills and help determine which industry you will enjoy the most.

  • Motion picture industries
  • Television broadcasting
  • Performing arts companies
  • Independent artist or performer
  • Bridal services

Employment and Information Data for Cosmetology

Why Become a Cosmetologist?

A career as a makeup artist will allow you to express creativity and work in a variety of environments. It is flexible in terms of work locations, although areas such as New York City and Los Angeles, where the film industry is prominent, have a denser concentration of job opportunities.

Opportunities exist to meet new people, visit new places and what could be deemed exciting, working with celebrities. The job satisfaction is immediate and there is often a video reel or photoshoot to contribute to each artist’s portfolio.

Make-up artists will often:

  • Work with make-up and brushes
  • Work with hair and fashion
  • Work on location
  • Work evenings and weekends
  • Take courses to keep skills up to date

Recommended Courses to Become a Cosmetologist

  • Makeup Design
  • Bridal and Formal Wear
  • Airbrush
  • Fashion Makeup
  • Special Effects and Film Makeup
  • H.D. Redcam and Film Makeup
  • Corporate Styling
  • Hairstyling

Degrees to Help You Become a Cosmetologist

College training for make up artists is typically a certificate program ranging from a few months to a year. You will receive hands-on training with the make up and tools needed to enter the profession. Programs leading to associate degrees in makeup artistry usually include general education requirements as well as courses in areas such as studio makeup, special effects, and master makeup classes. Graduates of these programs go on to pursue careers in makeup, fashion, performance and media fields. Many makeup artist programs also cover areas that include scripting, digital character design and on-set protocols. Specific skills in television and stage make-up are also offered.

Media Makeup

Extensive growth in film and television production and video production for the music and fashion sectors has led to a demand for in-depth make-up artistry courses which will provide specialist training. Many of the courses in this field are at HNC/D and Foundation Degree level but there are a handful of degree-level courses.

Diploma in Cosmetology

At the diploma program level, prospective make-up artists typically complete courses within the broader cosmetology field as well as those within their specialization. Diploma programs commonly involve both coursework and externship opportunities at salons. Students may take courses in skin care, cosmetic art, product knowledge and client services.

Associate’s Degree in Cosmetology

An associate’s degree program in cosmetology involves extensive coursework and training; students fulfill general education course requirements in addition to specialized courses. Practical training is also most common at this level of schooling. Those who are interested in make-up artistry careers can specifically benefit from associate-level courses in sanitation and safety, beauty tools and business management. These programs may also focus on state licensing preparation.