Cosmetology or Esthetics? What’s the Difference?

Nov 23 2016

Here at Hair Professionals Career College, we offer five different programs:

Cosmetology Instructor
Esthetics Instructor

Many of our potential students wonder what the difference between cosmetology and esthetics is, and we want to help students make an informed decision when it comes to choosing the right program for them! Here are the differences you should know when you’re considering a beauty education in either realm.


Here, our Esthetics Program focuses on teaching students these skills, as well as other techniques:

– Facials
– Waxing
– Microdermabrasion
– Makeup Application

Merriam-Webster says that esthetics is defined as: “one having or affecting sensitivity to the beautiful especially in art”. We want to teach our students to have an affect on the beauty of others!

girl getting a facial

Job Opportunities for Estheticians

Well qualified, licensed estheticians could potentially have one of these careers or several others:

– Facial Technician
– Microdermabrasion Technician
– Waxing Technician
– Spa Owner
– Spa Manager
– Freelance Makeup Artist
– Aromatherapy Specialist


Our Cosmetology Program focuses primarily on the following skills. However, our program is not limited to just learning these!

– Hair
– Skin
– Nails

Merriam-Webster defines cosmetology as: “the cosmetic treatment of the skin, hair, and nails”. As you can see, we focus our education on what we believe the industry demands.

cosmetologist doing updo

Jobs for Cosmetologists

Qualified, licensed cosmetologists could potentially have one of these jobs or a variety of others:

– Personal Hairstylist
– Salon Hairstylist
– High-end Salon Hairstylist
– Hair Colorist
– Spa Technician
– Nail Technician
– Facial Technician
– Spa Owner
– Salon Owner
– Salon Manager
– Spa Manager
– Freelance Makeup Artist


The Difference

Skill Set

As you can see, both estheticians and cosmetologists learn skin services, skills, and techniques at Hair Pros. This is the biggest differentiating factor between the two programs. Esthetics students will not be exposed to learning hair treatments or skills, nor will they be exposed to manicuring skills and techniques.

Job Opportunities

There are several similarities among the two, being skin services, as mentioned above, including makeup application and understanding, but their biggest similarity is the type of jobs they can have. Qualified cosmetologists can often find jobs that an esthetician can have, too. However, estheticians can’t pursue a few of jobs cosmetologists can, due to licensure differences.


Legally, in the state of Illinois, estheticians must complete 750 training hours to get their license.

Illinois state law requires cosmetologists to complete 1500 training hours to receive their license.

cosmetologists and estheticians beautifying girl

How Do I Choose?

In the end, choosing the right program will come with going over a few different factors. Here are a few to consider:

– How much time do you have/want to spend?
– What are you interested in learning?
– How accommodating is your financial situation?

At Hair Pros, we want to dedicate time to helping our students find the right fit. Contact us for more information on any program you’re interested in, and come in to take a peek into our day-to-day schedule. We hope to see you soon!