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Degree Overview: Associate of Arts (A.A.) Degree in Cosmetology

Majors Overview January 30, 2014

Those that earn an Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree in cosmetology can become personal care and beauty professionals that may provide different beauty services. It is often required to graduate from an approved cosmetology school to become a licensed cosmetologist.

A.A. Programs in Cosmetology

Students enrolled in an associate’s degree program in cosmetology are trained to provide a wide array of beauty services to customers. They can expect to become adept at cutting and styling hair, performing manicures and pedicures and providing skin care treatments. Associate’s degrees in cosmetology are offered by several private institutions, vocational schools and community colleges.

In many programs, coursework is devised to impart knowledge to students needed for the acquisition of a cosmetologist license after they graduate. Admission criteria typically require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma, though those who are yet to complete high school may also be admitted into some programs by the authorities concerned.


Coursework related to an associate’s degree in cosmetology augments knowledge imparted on beauty services with instruction on business skills and sanitation as well as how to identify skin and hair disorders. Cosmetology students will benefit from obtaining business skills as many cosmetology graduates prefer to start their own businesses, including personal care businesses (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)). Coursework stresses practical education including state regulations and laws imparted through clinics and salons. Cosmetology classes typically include topic areas such as:

•Nail care
•Health and safety
•Salon management
•Hair styling
•Hair cutting
•State regulations
•Make-up application

Job and Wage Outlook

A job growth rate of 20% has been projected for personal care occupations including cosmetologists during the period from 2008 to 2018 (BLS). The optimistic projection is owed to an expected population growth and a corresponding increase in the number of nail salons and spas. These professionals should obtain entry-level occupations with relative ease though there is likely to be fierce competition for the most lucrative occupations in the field that usually go to those with the most experience.

In May 2011, hairdressers and cosmetologists earned an average annual wage of $26,460 (BLS); in May 2010, most cosmetologists were employed with job givers such as nursing care facilities, department stores, personal care services, and health and personal care stores. Cosmetologists often acquire and retain their own customers. The wage-level of these professionals is determined by their work experience as also by the size and location of the hirer.

Licensure Info

State licensure is mandatory for cosmetologists who seek to practice their profession, with each state having its own set of licensure standards. Commonly, states require that the aspiring license holders must have a GED certificate or high school diploma, satisfy minimum age standards, and graduate from a cosmetology school licensed by the state. Licensure requirements in some states require candidates to pass an oral or applied exam in addition to a written examination.

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