Do you Need a Degree to be a Hairstylist?

mannequin at a hairstylist school

Are you passionate about hair? Enjoy watching YouTube videos about the newest styles and then give your family and friends advice on their hair? If you want to be a hairstylist, the good news is you don’t need a 4-year college degree. However, you do need to attend a diploma program. The other good news is that most cosmetology diploma programs can be completed in under a year. Once you complete the diploma program, you are ready to apply for a cosmetology license and start working as a hairstylist.

Do you Need a Degree to be a Hairstylist?

As mentioned earlier, you don’t need a degree, but you do need a diploma or certification to qualify for a license. It is mandatory in all 50 state that a hairstylist be licensed before they work in a licensed business. Having a license proves that you attended and satisfactorily completed an accredited diploma program. During a diploma program you will not only attend lectures, but you will gain hands-on experience, typically in a student salon. You start working on mannequins and fellow classmates, honing your craft, and then move on to real clients in the student salon. This diploma program allows you to practice your trade, so you are prepared for the licensing exam and that first day of your new career.

What Do You Learn in a Hairstylist Diploma Program?

Not only do you learn all about cutting and styling hair, but you also learn a lot of knowledge that will help you perform your job properly including infection control, sanitation, and draping. By obtaining your license, you prove that you understand how to sanitize hairstyling instruments, salon surfaces and generally keep clients safe while they sit in your salon chair. Further, during a cosmetology program, you learn more than just hair. You learn abut nail care, facials and makeup. The cosmetology program is a complete course on everything you will need to know to work in a salon.

Hair Styling & Cutting

The majority of what you learn and do in a cosmetology program is about hair. You will learn about different hairstyles, braiding, wig and hair extensions, hair coloring, and hair removal. You learn about hair color applications, chemical mixing, lighteners, toners, special effects and corrective solutions. The curriculum will also focus on hair coloring safety and proper procedure, so you keep your client safe.

You learn about different hairstyles from updos to finger waves. The program teaches wet hairstyling basics, comb-out techniques, hair wrapping and blow-dry styling. You learn the principles of hair design, scalp care, shampooing, conditioning, and haircutting.  Part of the techniques of shampooing involve proper draping, protecting the client from water, chemicals and other substances that may touch their skin or clothes. You will also better understand shampoo and conditioner and how to educate your clients on proper hygiene.

Not only will you learn how to cut a client’s hair, but you will also learn how to stand properly to improve posture and cut safely. While you cut hair, you will spend most of your time on your feet, so this program will teach you how to stand properly to minimize the strain on your body. You will also learn about different appliances that you will use during a hairstyling appointment. Hair equipment like rollers, blow dryers, thermal presses, are some of the many that will help you style your client’s hair. After this cosmetology program, you will have mastered the art of hairstyling and haircutting, but there is much more to learn.

Facials & Makeup

Part of the curriculum of the cosmetology program will focus on facials. This is important in conjunction with makeup. You will learn about skin analysis, aromatherapy, skin care products, as well as cosmetics and makeup application. Part of the curriculum includes facial massage and treatment. It is important for you to understand and determine skin types and conditions before consulting with the client.

Facial makeup is also an important supplement to your hairstyling education so you can help your clients with cosmetics, makeup color theory, special occasion makeup, corrective makeup, artificial eyelashes and proper makeup application procedures.

Manicures & Pedicures

Another part of the cosmetology program focuses on manicures and pedicures. As a cosmetologist, you will need to know about manicure tools, disinfection and nail technologies to pass the cosmetology license exam. There are many different nail technology tools, from nail files to separators to cuticle exfoliators and sable brushes. Not only is it important to know proper technique but also how to sanitize tools in a way that keeps your clients safe. There are also techniques that can set you apart including nail art and nail designs.

Being able to perform manicures and pedicures also builds your resume so that you are able to work at a full-service salon or even a spa. Having additional expertise in manicures and pedicures will show that you take cosmetology seriously.

Anatomy & Physiology

Two important courses that are part of the cosmetology program are anatomy and physiology. During these courses, you will learn about the different body systems, the anatomy of the skin, skin health and nutrition, skin disorders and the properties of the hair and scalp. Having knowledge of the body and how it works is important so you can educate your clients. They may ask why they need a pedicure or special chemical relaxant in their hair. You will have the training necessary to educate your clients about their body, cells, tissues, skin, and any disorders of the skin they may encounter. You can also educate them on nail structure and growth and proper hygiene.

Infection Control

A whole section of the licensing exam is focused on infection control. When you work with clients and they are exposed to different bacteria, it is important to understand how to disinfect surfaces and sterilize tools. During the cosmetology program, you will learn about infection, prevention, precautions, and the regulations you must adhere to in order to retain your cosmetology license. You will learn how infection works, how to prevent infection and the proper precautions to take in order to keep clients healthy. Keeping a clean area helps keep both you and your clients safe.

Hairstylist Skills

There are many skills that you will learn and master during your cosmetology program. The skills include goal setting, time management, career management, ethics and personality development. You will also learn how to project a professional image, present yourself properly and show your clients that you care about personal hygiene and the art of hair with your own appearance. Most importantly, you will hone your communication skills from the basics of communication, client consultation, customer service and salon sales. Communication is vitally important for a cosmetologist because most of your job will involve interacting with clients and coworkers. Good communication skills will create a fun and happy atmosphere at the salon.

The Salon Business

As a hairstylist, you will need to know how to attract and create loyal customers. You may also aspire to be a salon manager or even start your own salon business. Part of the curriculum in a cosmetology diploma program includes how to open a successful salon and building your salon business. It is important to get off on the right foot when you are starting a new business and having the formal training from industry experienced instructors will give you that leg up.

Minnesota Laws and Rules

Another important part of the licensing exam and what you learn in your cosmetology program is the laws and rules you must abide by. How to keep clients safe, keeping tools clean, how to advertise, licensing and other rules that you must abide by to retain or renew your cosmetology license.

Finding Employment

One of the last courses you will take in the cosmetology diploma program will prepare you for the workforce. You will prepare for the licensing exam, learn how to write a proper resume, and participate in mock interviews to prepare you with the answers to the many questions an employer may ask. Many vocational schools also offer career services because they have relationships with businesses in the community. Getting a diploma is about more than what you learn but the opportunities you gain to get your career started in hairstyling.

Final Thoughts

It takes less than a year to learn everything you need to become a licensed hairstylist. A cosmetology program will not only prepare you for the licensing exam but also prepare you for your first day of work as a hairstylist. You will get hands-on experience during the program, preparing you to succeed. Complete your diploma and pass the licensing exam, and then start your new adventure as a hairstylist.

Cosmetology Program

At Minnesota School of Cosmetology, we are dedicated to helping our Cosmetology program students develop a solid foundation and a flair for style through hands-on training in basic and advanced industry techniques. You will learn how to cut, color and style hair, give manicures and pedicures, provide spa treatments and perform various skin care techniques from industry-experienced instructors in a professional salon setting.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a cosmetologist and starting a rewarding career in the beauty industry.

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