Cosmetology vs Esthetics

When deciding what career you want to pursue, it might be hard to decide between a cosmetologist and an esthetician. Both careers focus on beauty, but one focuses on hair, makeup, and skin, while the other focuses mostly on skincare. It’s important to note that both career paths require different licenses in Indiana, so these two careers are not interchangeable. Here are the most notable differences between the two.


A cosmetologist usually focuses on hair, makeup, and nails. By definition, a person licensed to provide cosmetic treatments to the hair, skin, and nails. Some of the skills a cosmetologist in Indiana could learn include:

  • Hair Cutting, Coloring, and Styling
  • Nailcare
  • Waxing
  • Facials and Makeup
  • Business Skills

To get a cosmetologist license in Indiana, you are required to:

  • Enroll in a cosmetology program
  • Complete 1,500 training hours
  • Sit for the state board

Where Do Cosmetologists Work?

Licensed cosmetologists can find careers in multiple places. A common career for a cosmetologist is a hair stylist, but it’s also possible to become a makeup artist, nail technician, or even a cosmetology instructor. The growth rate in the cosmetologist profession is 10%, which is higher than average for most jobs!

Esthetics facial


An esthetician focuses more on skincare and makeup. Someone in an esthetics program might learn about the chemistry of skincare and how to best clean the skin. Estheticians focus on the skin, especially through makeup, facials, and waxing, while cosmetologists focus on hair and nails. Other skills an esthetician might learn could be:

  • Skincare services
  • Makeup application
  • Waxing
  • Spa Techniques
  • Business skills

To get an esthetics license in Indiana, you are required to:

    • Enroll in an esthetics program
    • Complete 700 training hours
    • Sit for the state board

Where Do Estheticians Work?

Estheticians might work in medical spas, salons, hotels, or even department stores. An esthetician could also work in a dermatologist’s office providing non-medical assistance to patients, or they might work in a plastic surgeon’s office as a medical esthetician. Estheticians can also choose to run their own business, depending on what they specialize in.

Cosmetology License vs Esthetician License

The state of Indiana requires separate licenses for cosmetology and esthetics. While some of the skills learned in a cosmetologist program might be similar to an esthetician program, it’s important to enroll in a program that specializes in what you are looking for in a career. An esthetician cannot work as a cosmetologist, and a cosmetologist cannot work as an esthetician.

These two careers, while similar, are different enough that they require a separate license and education. Check out our cosmetology and esthetics programs to find out more!

For more information about our graduation rates, the median loan debt of students who completed the program and other information vist

Salons pictured are not taken on site