How to Become a Cosmetologist

Student studying to become a cosmetologist by cutting a client's hair

There are a few things that will indicate whether you have what it takes to become a cosmetologist. Do you have a passion for cosmetology? Are you going to get vocational training? Do you have an interest in working with others? Have you developed good communication and customer services skills? Are you knowledgeable in sales? Are you able to solve problems creatively? Do you possess good attention to detail? Do you have a drive to continue your education? If the answer to these questions is yes, you may be a great fit to become a cosmetologist.

Do you have a passion for fashion and beauty? Are you curious about trends, or perhaps even good at setting them? Chances are you have considered working in some field of cosmetology, whether it be hair, makeup, skincare or nails. A career as a cosmetologist may be the best fit for you.

A Passion for Cosmetology

Loving what you do can often have a strong relationship to whether you succeed on that career path. Here are couple of questions you might want to ask yourself before you commit to starting a new career in cosmetology.

Are there reflections of this interest in your own life?

Do you enjoy doing this in your free time, or is this something you were hoping would make you wealthy? If cosmetology is something you happily do for free, it is likely that you will have the stamina for professional success.

What is your history and amateur experience?

Are there people in your family or community who have come to you for beauty advice or help? Do people compliment your amateur work? If you are being recognized without any formal training that indicates that you have a talent worth exploring and nurturing.

Vocational Training

Choosing to further your professional education is the first step in achieving your goals. Without certified training you will have little credibility in your chosen field of cosmetology. When choosing what kind of program you want to attend there are three things that you need to keep in mind.

Who are the Instructors?

Getting an education from experienced instructors is extremely important to longevity in your career. Picking a program taught by experts in the field will give you the benefit of their knowledge while also gleaning the benefits of potentially connecting to other industry leaders. It can mean the difference between success and failure.

When does the program happen?

You may not initially see “when” you get your education as a big deal, but it’s a bigger deal than you might think. Finding a program that works around the other demands of your life can relieve some of the scheduling stress that may affect your learning experience. Be sure you have time and energy set aside specifically for your education. You are worth the effort.

Where is the program?

Your location can have a serious impact on the direction of your career. Therefore, where you receive your training effects your cosmetology career. Pick a program that will help you have success both where you are now and where you hope to be in the future.

Interest in Working with Others

Even if your dream cosmetology career is being an online influencer or social media spokesperson for a cosmetics brand, you are still going to have to work with people. Cosmetology is full of professional/social opportunities. Here are some of the people you will need to have good social relationships with.


The most obvious contact you will have is with customers, even if it is through a digital platform. You will be approached by happy clients who are looking to celebrate change as well has clients devastated by a cosmetic mishap. Whatever the case is, dealing with clients and customers is going to be an extremely significant part of your job.


There are some cosmetologists who are professionally independent entrepreneurs. However, that is a rare situation. For the most part a cosmetologist will need to work with others in their field. You may also need to work with professionals in complimentary services if the salon requires it.

Product/Brand Reps

You are going to interact with product and brand representatives, even if you aren’t trying to have a career online through endorsements. Many different salons have brands and products that they have contracts or deals with, so you are going to need work with the product and brand side of the beauty industry, as well.

Customer Service/Communication Skills

How your customers feel about you typically plays a big role in whether they come back to you in the future. But there are more reasons than a mere return appointment to give 100%. Here are some of the other reasons you will want to sharpen up your service and client communication skills.

Personal Fulfillment

You will feel good about your career if you are proud of the work you do. Even in times that are tough, good work can go a long way in self-motivation. Being able to stand by your work will set you apart in your field and help boost your confidence in your own abilities.

Public Reputation

Your attitude has consequences that reach far outside interactions with your clients. Those consequences can either be positive or negative depending on how you conduct yourself and communicate with those around you. People are perceptive. They will notice extra effort and easily spot sloppiness, shortcuts and bad behavior. Make sure you are cultivating the right reputation, even when you aren’t in the room.

Networking and Connections

You never know who is going to walk into your salon or spa, and you never know who they know. Creating connections with the people you come into contact with can lead to opportunities you wouldn’t happen upon otherwise. Make sure that when the time comes for a client or professional contact to make a cosmetology recommendation that you are the first person they think of.

Knowledge of Sales

Your talent, drive and skill will keep your career on track, but it won’t always get you across the financial finish line. For that, you are likely to need some sales skills to go with your vocational skills. Here are some ways to get more from your customer interactions without going overboard with hard-sell tactics that can make clients uncomfortable.

Upselling Services

When a client comes in wanting a service you should be trying to sell them the most lucrative version of that particular service. If they initially request a basic service, try to persuade them that a more profitable version is the better choice.

Add-on Products

Recommend that your client purchase a product or tool that will enhance the service they received. Not only is this a good way to increase the ticket at the end of the appointment but it also helps to cultivate a healthy relationship with any brands or products you are helping to represent.

Book Return/Repeat Service

Securing a follow up, touch up or maintenance appointment is a way for you to secure future revenue. Even if you aren’t able to get them to upgrade their service or purchase additional products you can at least make sure you have the opportunity to try again.

Creative Problem Solving

You can have the best instructors from the best cosmetology program on the planet and still not be ready for everything that comes your way. This is why you’ll need to bring your own creativity to your career. Being ready for the unexpected and unimaginable means having creative problem solving in both social and skilled areas of your job.

Unusual, Unexpected Issues

You can plan for every possible issue in your field and there will inevitably be one that you never dreamed possible. It could be a client issue, or it might end up having something to do with a product or tool. It may even be attached to a financial or professional situation. Thinking on your feet will help you solve even complex, unexpected problems effectively and efficiently.

Difficult People

As a cosmetologist you will encounter many different kinds of people with a myriad of background experiences and personality types. Creative problem solving can help you neutralize chaos, dissolve tension, and find a social middle ground with even extremely difficult clients and co-workers.

Fixing Mistakes

You might have more talent than you know what to do with, but at the end of the day you are still just a human. And humans make mistakes. Creative problem solving will help you more readily recognize a misstep, communicate it effectively and help solve it. Using your creativity in problem solving can keep you from feeling worse by having someone else clean up a mess you made.

Attention to Detail

Paying attention to the little things is a fast fading quality, but it can make a huge difference. Focusing on the details can make you stand out in your field, help you prevent accidents and mishaps, and even create opportunities.

Skill Work

Paying attention to the details of the work you do can be difficult sometimes, but it has many benefits. It can save you from embarrassment by keeping you from performing a task badly. It can also help set your work apart from others who are in your field. Either way there are a lot of practical step-by-step details that can easily be overlooked by an unmotivated cosmetologists.

Communication Attention (for opportunity and connection)

Listening to your clients, colleagues and other representatives of the beauty industry will make them feel important and help create meaningful connections in your professional life. You will also be sure to hear any opportunities that may come up if you are paying close attention.

Preparation and Surroundings

Preparing your workspace is important to a successful, satisfying appointment. It keeps you from looking sloppy, but it also helps when the unexpected occurs. Having everything you need readily accessible and available will help you project a seamless, polished professionalism to each of your clients, both old and new.

A Drive to Continue Your Education

The one thing that is certain is that things will change. Even if you are a master of your craft there will be new trends, tools and products that reshape the industry. Innovation is an unstoppable force. There are ways that you can educate and prepare yourself for the inevitable changes you will experience throughout your long, successful career as a cosmetologist.

Formal Education

You can help further your knowledge as a cosmetologist by enrolling in additional cosmetology courses. This can be helpful when significant new techniques or products in your industry have been developed. You might also want to brush up with a class on the basics if it has been a while just to refamiliarize yourself.

Independent Education

There are many educational resources for cosmetologists that can be accessed independently. This may come in the form of a book from the library. It may also come from an online tutorial or article. Good product representatives will also host clinics on occasion to showcase new product, field questions, and show certain techniques. Keeping up with your personal education will help reinforce your passion for beauty while expanding your knowledge base.

Experimental Education

You may also want to consider educating yourself by trying new things. You might even want to try something that has never been done before. Experimentation can enhance your education while simultaneously fueling industry innovation.

Final Thoughts

Did learning about how to become a cosmetologist interest you? Need to get your undergraduate certificate in cosmetology? 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. We keep our class sizes small to make sure you get the individualized instruction you need and attention you deserve. You will graduate with everything you need to be a versatile artist in an exciting industry, including a cosmetology diploma from a respected college.

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

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