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What Is an AAS Degree in Cosmetology?

by Amy Whitmyre, studioD

An Associate of Applied Science degree is granted in a number of fields of study, including cosmetology. Full-time students can typically complete an AAS degree in 2 to 2 1/2 years. These degrees are often granted by community colleges but are sometimes given by traditional four-year colleges and universities as well.

Cosmetology Coursework

While working towards the AAS degree in cosmetology, students study all cosmetology fundamentals. Classes cover topics in hair styling, hair color, chemical processing, skin care and nail care. Some programs also cover more advanced courses in topics such as skin diseases and disorders. Other topics studied include safety and sanitation, wigs, eyebrow and eyelash tinting, and bacteriology. Most programs offer a lab environment where students are able to get real world experience by practicing these skills on actual customers.

Other Required Coursework

In addition to the cosmetology courses, students in an AAS degree program are required to take general education credits. These courses cover a wide variety of subjects such as English, history, math and science. Some programs require that cosmetology majors take chemistry classes, since they are often mixing and using chemicals for certain hair and skin treatments and techniques. Most cosmetology degree programs also require students to take some business courses that may include marketing, accounting and general management. By taking classes in these subject areas, cosmetology students are prepared to start and run their own businesses.


Cosmetologists often go to work in beauty salons, spas, nail salons and barber shops upon completion of the required training. Most states require that people working in cosmetology complete a program in a state-licensed barber or cosmetology school. Many vocational schools offer the required coursework needed for this licensure. An AAS degree is not necessarily required by most state licensing bodies, although having one can result in more career opportunities and can better prepare the cosmetologist for running her own business.

Occupational Outlook

The overall employment outlook for cosmetologists is good. The field is expected to grow by 16 percent through 2020 according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook. Jobs in higher-paying salons with excellent reputations will be harder to attain. Those positions typically go to experienced technicians. The barber profession is expected to grow a bit slower than average. And employment of shampooers is expected to decline due to more hair stylists doing their own shampooing.

About the Author

Amy Whitmyre has been a writer for more than 10 years. Her career experience also includes work as an educator and market researcher and a librarian in the legal and medical fields. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Science in library science and is currently working on a Master of Science in education.

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