What Can I Do with a Cosmetology License?

Students blow drying a clients hair to practice for a cosmetology license

A cosmetology license is your gateway to a career that includes resort spas, salons or even your own salon. Yes, getting the credentials to “do beauty” for a living can even help you to build an online following that can catapult your career. When you’re in the business of helping others look their best, you can live your best life. If you have a knack for aesthetics, it’s important to get locked into the right trajectory, working as a cosmetologist in a professional capacity.

What Does a Cosmetologist Do?

Combining art, science and technical skills, cosmetologists bring the latest beauty treatments and techniques to their clients. While these professionals often come to the job with an innate, natural talent for hair, nails and skincare, they spend hours developing and refining their talents to offer safe, professional-level results. In short, a cosmetologist delivers a wide range of cosmetic treatments for hair, skin and nails. Here’s a look at some specifics within the field of cosmetology:

  • Hairstyling
  • Haircutting
  • Coloring
  • Hair treatments
  • Hair extensions/weaves
  • Beauty/skin treatments (esthetics)
  • Manicures
  • Pedicures
  • General nail care
  • Makeup application

Cosmetologists in training study the complete range of services in the cosmetology field. Some go on to become full-service professionals capable of pampering clients from head to toe by delivering the latest and best treatments for every part of the body. Others find that they are passionate about one specialty. So, how do you get a cosmetology license to start helping clients look and feel good?

How Do You Get a Cosmetology License?

Cosmetology is a highly regulated field. To operate as a legitimate, board-recognized cosmetologist you must have more than talent for hair, skin, nails or beauty. While a natural talent is certainly a great launching point for getting into this field, it’s not enough to actually begin a professional career that’s in full compliance with all laws and regulations. What’s more, salons, spas and other businesses want to hire people who have the proper certification in addition to talent.

The strict regulations regarding cosmetology are in place for good reason. It’s extremely important to be trained in proper safety and hygiene techniques. This helps to ensure a healthy, sterile environment that doesn’t pose any contamination risks for cosmetologists and their clients. Cosmetologists work in close proximity with their clients. In addition, many handle chemicals that are used for various hair, nail and beauty treatments. It’s essential that all cosmetologists know how to properly mix, handle and dispose of chemicals. While each cosmetologist’s journey is unique, the general path to becoming a licensed professional in this field is relatively uniform. Here’s a look at the steps to becoming a licensed cosmetologist:

  1. Research cosmetology programs
  2. Enroll in a cosmetology program
  3. Graduate from a cosmetology program. This often includes completing a certain number of practice hours
  4. Study for the licensing exam
  5. Pass the licensing exam
  6. Apply for your cosmetology license

In addition to “book learning” that’s focused on all of the techniques, tools, equipment, products, safety protocols, hygiene protocols and regulations involved in the cosmetology profession, cosmetology programs deliver hands-on experience in salon and spa settings. Students truly “learn by doing” under the guidance of trained instructors with years of expertise. Recent graduates are then eligible to sit for licensing exams. This includes a comprehensive timed exam that is typically comprised of questions broken down into the categories of scientific concepts, hair services, skincare services and nail services.

What Can You Do with a Cosmetology License?

Once the boards have been passed, an entirely new world of professional opportunities opens up for newly certified cosmetologists. While there is no standard path for cosmetologists, many choose to go to work for other people as a way to gain experience. Working under the umbrella of a well-known spa or salon allows an up-and-coming cosmetologist to learn the ropes of the industry from all angles. For those who are seeking to open their own spas and salons in the future, this can be an amazing way to learn the financial, customer service and practical sides of running a thriving “beauty business.” So, what are some of the roles that open up with a cosmetology license?

Traditional Hairstylist

For those motivated to pursue cosmetology degrees based on a passion for hair, becoming a hairstylist is an obvious choice. Hairstylists are needed in every town and city across the country. While some work for major styling chains, others prefer to maintain exclusive clientele rosters. Hairstylists can work in salons, at spas, or on runways. Here’s a look at some of the services hairstylists provide:

  • Haircuts
  • Coloring
  • Hair extensions
  • Weaves
  • Chemical relaxing
  • Straightening
  • Perms
  • Wig styling
  • Braiding
  • Wedding styling
  • Styling for prom and special events

Hairstylists can also act as “hair consultants” by providing clients with suggestions for various hair products and treatments. For cosmetologists who go on to own their own salons, there is the opportunity to sell high-quality hair products directly to clients. Carrying exclusive products is a smart way for stylists to build client loyalty. Ultimately, it’s important to remember that becoming a licensed cosmetologist is a great way to combine a passion for hair with a passion for business.

Nail Technician

Offering manicures and pedicures, nail technicians provide comprehensive care for toenails and fingernails. This includes cleaning, trimming, filing, polishing and repairing nails. Additionally, nail techs are general “nail experts” who can provide guidance on how to keep nails strong and healthy. Some options that they can discuss with clients include how to properly moisturize hands, how to preserve artificial nails and how to keep nails healthy.

Salon Owner

For many who enroll in cosmetology school for the first time, the goal is to become a salon owner. Certification opens the door to living the entrepreneurial dream. A salon owner wears many hats. They often oversee a team of talented, dedicated professionals delivering a wide range of treatments for clients. In many cases, they become familiar faces within a town or city. For some salon owners, the goal is to build up their own name from scratch. Others choose to purchase franchises from well-known salon chains. There is no wrong or right way to pursue the dream of owning a salon. One of the perks of being an experienced and licensed cosmetologist is that they can step in to fill in any gaps when serving clients because they are trained to “do it all.”

Salon Manager

For cosmetologists with experience, stepping into the role of a salon manager is often a natural progression. Salon managers have responsibilities like overseeing staff, scheduling, budgeting and promoting salon services. They are often also tasked with creating customer-satisfaction initiatives. Ultimately, the salon manager keeps the salon running smoothly and keeps the clients happy.

Makeup Specialist

True artists, makeup specialists bring concepts to life through makeup. While some are makeup consultants that help people find the right products and looks, others are called in for special events. Makeup artists can work as freelancers for wedding makeup, set makeup, theater makeup and more.

Cosmetology Brand Influencer

If you love to get in front of the camera, the passion that you have for beauty products and inside tips could help you launch a career as an influencer. While anyone can “make a video” about makeup or hair, most people simply don’t have the expertise or knowledge to make compelling, high-value instructional videos. Becoming a brand influencer can pay in many ways. First, many influencers are able to land brand sponsorships. Others prefer to remain independent while posting their own content. Lastly, being a recognized name is a great way to draw attention that will help you to book direct clients as a freelancer or salon owner.

Cosmetology Product Salesperson

A cosmetology background can be the bedrock of a long and successful corporate career. Many brands are seeking salespeople who understand how and why certain products work. They want professionals who can sell products to solve specific beauty concerns. If you’re interested in a sales career that’s focused on the beauty industry, getting the credentials to be able to “talk shop” with some degree of authority can be a real résumé booster that distinguishes you from other people who simply have sales backgrounds.

The Versatility of a Cosmetology License

Like all things that are worth the effort in life, aspiring beauty experts need to put in the time to become true experts in the world of beauty and aesthetics. There is a world of knowledge to learn about. Attending a cosmetology training program that covers all the practical and technical aspects allows you to administer a wide variety of beauty treatments and services. In addition to satisfying employer requirements for operating as a working cosmetologist, the process of obtaining a cosmetology license will simply make you better at what you do. If you’re considering a career that will take you everywhere from your own salon to the on-set makeup chairs, there’s only one place to start. A cosmetology program that equips you to sit for a license and start a journey toward a highly rewarding career.

Want to Learn More?

Are you ready to prepare for your cosmetology license? 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 cosmetology entrepreneur and start a rewarding career in the beauty industry.

Minnesota School of Cosmetology Represented at State Capitol

By: Jill Hocking

On Tuesday, March 10, 2015, Minnesota School of Cosmetology (MSC) students, campus director Jill Hocking and instructor Donna Dungy represented MSC at the State Capitol in regard to the S.F. No. 223 (Champion) cosmetology apprentice program. S.F. No. 223 (Champion) cosmetology apprentice program is a bill for an act proposing the right to qualify for state licensure to become a cosmetologist simply by completing an apprenticeship program consisting of approximately 3,000 hours of training in a salon setting under a licensed cosmetologist, rather than attending an educational institution.

“Preparing for the session was very educational, but the knowledge the students and I gained once we entered the legislation session was priceless,” said Dungy.


The opposing views from those who represented MSC are quite similar across the board. The most popular view is simple: It takes a special person to be an educator and to teach cosmetology skills. A cosmetology education embraces much more than simply learning how to cut hair. There’s esthiology, nail technology, chemical relaxing, state laws and rules, and the biggest concern, safety and sanitation practices to keep the general public safe.

MSC student Hannah Parks passionately stated, “We get excellent education at Minnesota School of Cosmetology; you’re only as good as your teacher. You cannot learn everything about cosmetology from one or two individuals. At MSC, we have 12 instructors who are well-educated in all areas, but each one specializes in a specific area such as chemical relaxers, nail technology, skin care, hair color and haircutting.”

In an educational institution, students learn from multiple cosmetology specialists who are trained instructors. These educators are required to have continuing education credit hours annually and are overseen by an accreditation body which governs the school. The amount of infectious control information that students are required to learn is astonishing. The added requirements, and checks and balances at a school ensure cosmetologists are receiving the proper training and knowledge to learn cosmetology techniques but, most importantly, skills to keep the public safe.

S.F. No. 223 (Champion) was heard by the Senate State and Local Government Committee for consideration and advancement. After 45 minutes of testimony and discussion, the end result was to “lay the bill over” for possible consideration in the future.  The bill did not advance at this time, however, this will most likely be brought up again in the 2016 legislative session, so we will need to remain attentive. Your continued support is very important and much appreciated.