December 30, 2015

What’s the Difference Between an Esthetician and a Cosmetologist? [Updated 2021]

One of the most frequently asked questions we get regarding two of the programs we offer is “What is the difference between an esthetician and a cosmetologist?” This question opens up a whole world of answers and a deep dive into the world of beauty from hairstyling and nail care to skin care and waxing!

There are some differences and also some similarities between the two programs, so we’ll take you through some of the most important information you should know about both cosmetology and esthetics. If you’re interested in taking your knowledge a step further and enrolling in school to become an esthetician or a cosmetologist, then we’d love to show you around and give you a personal look into the life our students have at Avalon Institute and how we can get you started on your path to beauty school!

Here are some of the differences and similarities between the two programs:

 CosmetologyEsthetics
Is there an opportunity to learn hairstyling or haircutting?Yes! The majority of our curriculum focus is on hairstyling and haircutting.

No, there is no training in hairstyling or cutting, but there is the opportunity to learn more about waxing and hair removal processes.
Can I learn about skincare, facials, and makeup?Yes! Even though it’s not a major focus, our students still get the opportunity to learn about basic skincare and esthetics-related practices and skills to take with them into the workplace.Esthetics focuses mainly on the world of skincare and you can learn about these certain skills along with many others!
Is nail care, such as manicures and pedicures, included in the curriculum?Yes! Each of our locations offers training in nail care and manicures and pedicures as part of our cosmetology curriculum. Only our Layton campus offers training in nail care at this time.
How long does the program take?

  • Our cosmetology program can be completed in as little as 55 weeks for Mesa, Phoenix, Layton, and Las Vegas Campuses.

  • Our Aurora program can be completed in as little as 52 weeks.


  • Our esthetics program can be completed in as little as 21 weeks for Mesa, Phoenix, Aurora, and Las Vegas Campuses.

  • Our Layton campus program can be completed in as little as 65 weeks because the curriculum is for a master’s license.

Is there financial aid available for these programs?YesYes
What careers could I pursue with a license in one of these disciplines?

  • Hairstylist or colorist

  • Brand/product representative

  • Nail technician/manicurist

  • Educator/instructor

  • Salon manager

  • Makeup artist

  • Salon/business owner

  • Brand salesperson

  • Styling consultant


  • Spa, clinical, or medical esthetician

  • Skincare technician

  • Lead esthetician

  • Skincare specialist

  • Educator

  • Skincare therapist

  • Facialist

  • Spa technician

  • Sales/product representative

  • Spa manager or owner

What is the licensure rate of these programs?Our average across all campuses is a 91% licensure rate!Our average across all campuses is a 90 % licensure rate!
Does Avalon Institute offer these programs at each of their campuses? YesYes

What Is Cosmetology?

Cosmetologists are trained in skincare, hair styling, hair coloring, makeup, nail application, and nail care. This list goes on! Even though cosmetologists get the opportunity to expand their knowledge into more areas of beauty than just hair, their primary focus is on hair styling and cutting. However many licensed cosmetologists go into careers that are beyond hair and use skincare, makeup, and nails in their jobs daily!

What Can I Learn in a Cosmetology Program?

There is so much to learn in the world of cosmetology! Here are just a few of the things you can learn from our programs!

  • Personal client and salon safety
  • Human anatomy
  • Diseases and disorders of the hair, skin, scalp, and nails
  • Chemistry and product pharmacology
  • Haircutting
  • Hairstyling
  • Braiding and hair extensions
  • Perms
  • Facials
  • Aromatherapy
  • Waxing and hair removal
  • Makeup application
  • Lash and brow tinting
  • Natural manicures and pedicures
  • Artificial nails
  • Business and salon management practices
  • And more!

(Training may vary slightly depending on the campus and state licensing requirements).

How To Become a Cosmetologist

To become a cosmetologist you first want to find an accredited program that teaches you all the necessary skills you need to know to pass your state boards. Take a tour of the school and take a look at the program with an admissions counselor who can walk you through the process of applying and can show you around the campus and introduce you to various students and instructors as well!

After you’re enrolled in a school, you’ll need to complete a certain number of in-class and hands-on training hours necessary to graduate. Here are the state requirements of hours that need to be completed before sitting for the state board exam:

  • Nevada – 1600 hours
  • Colorado – 1500 hours
  • Utah – 1600 hours
  • Arizona – 1600 hours

That might seem like a lot of hours but depending on if you choose a daytime or nighttime program you could complete your training in a little over a year, which is much shorter than a traditional college or university education.

Once you’ve finished your training your next step is to take the state boards to show what you’ve learned and make sure you’re ready to work in the world of beauty! If you pass, you’ll officially be able to have your cosmetology license and you can start working in the world of beauty.

What Is Esthetics?

Estheticians are professionals in the skincare industry and much of their training includes being able to help correct skin-related issues or diseases like dry skin, rosacea, acne, and more! Even though estheticians are not dermatologists, they still have extensive knowledge of skincare and how to properly take care of and treat it.

What Can I Learn in an Esthetics Program?

There are many things you can look forward to learning about in an esthetics course. Our programs at Avalon Institute include some of the following curriculum included in our programs:

  • Personal, client, and salon safety practices
  • General anatomy and physiology
  • Diseases and disorders of the skin
  • The science of esthetics
  • Electricity and light therapy
  • Aroma therapy
  • Body treatments
  • How to use esthetics equipment
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Waxing and other hair removal techniques
  • Skin treatments
  • Makeup application
  • Lash and brow tinting
  • Business and salon management practices
  • Natural nail manicure and pedicures

(Training may vary slightly depending on the campus and state licensing requirements).

How To Become an Esthetician

Becoming an esthetician is very similar to becoming a cosmetologist in the process you’ll need to go through to get your official license to practice skincare! You’ll first want to find an accredited school you’re interested in going to and take a tour of the place with an admissions representative so that you can learn more about the program and the requirements you need to have to be able to apply!

Once you’ve enrolled in an esthetics program you’ll be required to finish a number of hours set by the state that shows you spent enough time learning about theory in the classroom as well as practical experience on the spa floor demonstrating your knowledge of skincare in a hands-on environment.

Here are the required number of esthetics training hours you need to complete per state regulations:

  • Nevada – 600 hours
  • Colorado – 600 hours
  • Utah – 1200 hours
  • Arizona – 600 hours

Once you’ve completed your required number of hours, you can sit for the state board exam which will test your knowledge of skincare and make sure that you’re ready to enter the world of beauty as a skincare specialist! Once you’re finished with that, all you need to do after is to find a job and start doing what you love!

A World of Possibilities Awaits!

No matter what program you decide you’re ready for, there are so many different possibilities that can open up for you with a career in either cosmetology or esthetics. The world of beauty is vast and many people are creating a life they’ve always dreamed of having in this industry. Nothing is stopping you from accomplishing your own goals in the world of beauty. Come visit us at one of our five campus locations and we’ll show you around our school and answer any other questions you have regarding our programs, financial aid, career opportunities, and more! We can’t wait to meet you!

If you want to learn more, take a look at our blog about why Avalon Institute is an amazing place to continue your beauty education.

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