How Long Does It Take to Get a Cosmetology Degree?

A cosmetology degree is your ticket to a rewarding career in the beauty industry. You can earn a cosmetology degree in as little as eight months. But typically, you need two years to train for your associate’s degree. But once you graduate, your cosmetology career is ready to take off.

Do you want to become a top hairstylist in a high-class salon? Or maybe you want a career in the fashion industry as a makeup artist. Perhaps your passion is for artistic manicures. Or do you want to provide skincare treatments in a luxury spa? Whatever your dreams are for working in beauty, a cosmetology degree and license are what you need.

How long will it take to get a cosmetology degree? The answer depends on several factors. For example, your cosmetology major could include all aspects of beauty treatment. But some beauty degree courses require you to complete a certain number of hours. Then, there are state requirements to consider. 

This article is a guide on how long it takes to get a cosmetology degree. You’ll learn about what’s involved in studying cosmetology.

What is a Cosmetology Degree?

Training for a cosmetology degree involves learning how to apply various types of beauty treatments. It takes between eight months and two years to earn a degree. During this time, you’ll get practical training in cosmetics, skincare, hair styling, nail care, and makeup.

After completing a two-year cosmetology associate’s degree, you need to pass your state’s licensing exam. This involves taking a written test and practical exam.

Even if you get your cosmetology degree in an accelerated nine-month program, you still need a license to work in cosmetology.

Related reading: How to save money on cosmetology school.

How Long Does a Cosmetology Degree Take?

A career in the beauty industry typically requires earning a cosmetology degree in two years. You receive practical training on the essential aspects of providing beauty services. Depending on your beauty career goals, getting the degree take a shorter or longer time.

For example, the American Association of Cosmetology Schools (AACS) says that a comprehensive degree program takes the most time. Depending on your state, it takes between 1,400 and 1,600 hours to complete the degree.

However, if you only study esthetics, nail technology, hair styling, or electrology, the degree will take a shorter time. But this means your choice of career is restricted.

Let’s look in more detail as to how long it takes to get a cosmetology degree.

Two-year cosmetology associate degree

Most cosmetology associate degree programs take two years to complete. For part of your course, you’ll have classroom learning. There, you’ll learn the theory of cosmetology. This coursework includes chemistry, skin disorders, safety, and hygiene. Additionally, you will learn about state regulations, salon management, and customer service.

Most of the two-year cosmetology degree is practical training in a salon or clinic. There, you will get hands-on experience to cut and style hair, perform manicures and apply beauty treatments.

Accelerated cosmetology degrees

It doesn’t always take as long as two years to get a cosmetology degree. Some beauty schools offer accelerated nine-month programs. These degree programs cover the basics of cosmetology and provide practical training. You also learn about the business side of running a successful salon.

But suppose you only want to qualify in a specific area such as manicure, barbering, or makeup. In that case, you could get a cosmetology certificate degree in eight or nine months. Before working professionally, you will need to complete an internship and take the state licensing exam.

However, there is more to qualifying as a cosmetologist than completing an eight-month or two-year degree.

Related reading: Five tips on becoming a successful cosmetologist.

How Long it Takes Qualify as a Cosmetologist

A cosmetology degree generally takes two years to complete, and it involves intensive learning. Qualifying as a cosmetologist requires learning skillsets in a wide range of beauty services. Even though you choose to specialize in one area, you still need to learn other skills.

Usually, you’ll need to take an internship or apprenticeship in a salon or beauty spa. You will need to work under the supervision of a qualified cosmetologist. The length of the internship varies. However, it typically lasts for one or two years. In some cases, the training to reach a professional standard takes longer than the cosmetology degree.

How long will it take to get a cosmetology license?

Before you can qualify as a cosmetologist, you need a license. Each state has its own licensing requirements. Also, the type of degree program affects how long becoming a licensed cosmetologist takes.

Typically, you need between 1,000 and 2,000 hours of hands-on training related to skincare, makeup, haircare, and nails.

The licensing exam consists of the following parts:

  • Multiple-choice exam on cosmetology theory and procedures
  • Practical exam to show cosmetology skills
  • Examination on state regulations

Depending on your career path, you may need to take additional exams for more specialized cosmetology jobs.

A timeline on how long it takes to qualify as a cosmetologist

  • Two years training for an associate’s degree
  • Or, nine months of training on an accelerated cosmetology program
  • At least two years completing an internship
  • Sitting a licensing exam

In total, it can take four to five years to become a qualified cosmetologist.

Careers in Cosmetology

Getting a cosmetology license gives many career options. Here are some of the jobs open to cosmetology graduates:

  • Hairstylist — Apart from cutting and styling, hairstylists must know how to use chemicals on hair. They also provide advice on style, beauty, and scalp disorders.
  • Esthetician — Skincare is the primary specialty of estheticians. A licensed esthetician provides services such as facials, hair removal, and skin treatments.
  • Beautician — Beauticians provide a wide range of beauty treatments. They style hair, apply makeup, give manicures, and perform facial and waxing procedures.
  • Makeup artist — Working as a makeup artist involves using techniques to enhance or change a client’s appearance. Makeup artists can work in salons, the fashion industry, films, theater, and even mortuaries.
  • Salon manager — Successful cosmetologists often end up managing their own salon. Good working knowledge of the beauty industry and shrewd business skills are necessary.

Getting your Cosmetology Degree: In Conclusion

It takes between eight months and two years to get a cosmetology degree. After getting hands-on training in a salon, you can apply for your license. Within a relatively short time from enrolling in cosmetology school, you can begin your fulfilling career in the beauty and fashion industry.

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