Are you thinking about enrolling in beauty school? If yes, then you’ve probably seen cosmetology programs and esthetics programs. While cosmetologists and estheticians are similar in some ways, they typically end up in different beauty careers. Knowing the difference between the two can help you determine which program you want to study and what career path you’ll want to take. Read more about the differences between the two and learn which may be the best fit for you!

Similarities Between Cosmetology and Esthetics

Cosmetologists and estheticians often share a working knowledge of how to perform beauty services that are in high demand. In beauty school, they are even taught some of the same practices all beauty professionals should know, such as:

  • Skincare Basics
  • Makeup Application
  • Anatomy
  • Hygiene and Sterilization Practices
  • Safety Requirements

Both cosmetologists and estheticians need a license to work and can even be seen together working in a beauty setting. Most importantly, they share the same goal. To help people look as good as they feel.

Differences Between Cosmetology and Esthetics

Cosmetology and esthetics licenses allow you to perform certain skills in your beauty career. You’ll typically find estheticians working in a spa and cosmetologists in a beauty salon. While they do share similarities, estheticians focus on skincare services while cosmetologists provide a wide range of beauty services that typically involve hair.

Each of these beauty industry branches has its own distinct focus. To help you better understand the differences between the two, we’ll take a deeper look into what each learns and does.

What is a Cosmetologist?


A cosmetologist is an expert in applying cosmetic procedures and treatments to help enhance one’s appearance. Depending on your state, you’ll most likely need a license to do any of these procedures. In the state of California, the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology requires that you have 1600 school hours to receive your license. During that 1600 hours, you can learn:

  • Hair Styling, Cutting, and Coloring
  • Hair Texture Concepts
  • Manicures and Pedicures
  • Skincare Techniques
  • Makeup Application

After you’ve completed your hours, you’ll also need to sit for your state board exam to get your license. Many cosmetologists you talk to will tell you that it is an exciting and rewarding career path. Some of the careers you’ll see cosmetologists in are hairstylists, salon managers, beauticians, and more.

If you believe that cosmetology is the perfect fit for you, then check out our cosmetology program.

What is an Esthetician?


An esthetician is someone who provides services focused on skincare with the goal of helping beautify one’s appearance. Like a cosmetologist, you’ll typically need a license in order to practice any of these procedures. In the state of California, you are required to have 600 school hours and will have to sit for your state board exam before getting your license. Some of the things you can learn during your esthetics program are:

  • Facials
  • Body Facials
  • Makeup Application
  • Eyelash Extensions
  • Microdermabrasion
  • Chemical Peels

In recent years, skincare has become the talk of social media. It’s nearly impossible to scroll through Instagram without seeing someone’s skincare routine. You can typically find an esthetician in a day spa, medical spa, dermatology office, and more!

If you have a passion for skincare, then consider turning it into a career and check out our esthetics program.

Which Program is Right For Me?

Both cosmetology and esthetics are great career choices. Each of these programs has benefits and the decision is ultimately up to you. While we can’t answer that question for you, we can discuss our programs with you and help you decide which best suits you! Fill out the form here and a member of our admissions team will be in touch soon!

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Thinking about a new career in the salon or spa industry?

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