IBMC Articles

What’s the Difference Between a Cosmetologist and an Esthetician?

It feels great to look good. Feeling beautiful gives us the confidence to ask that guy on a date, or slay a job interview, or just make a great first impression. Beauty specialists—like Cosmetologists and Estheticians—are here to help make it happen.

You’ve heard these terms before—they’re both careers that are on the rise in Colorado and across the country, especially in recent years. In fact, each profession is expected to grow at a faster-than-average rate in the U.S.

Cosmetology and Esthetics are both careers that demand a person who’s good with their hands, creative, and a great listener. It’s a rewarding experience to boost someone’s confidence and transform their attitude. While the two careers are similar and overlap in many ways, there are some important differences to note about the two beauty professions.

If you’re not sure which route is right for you, take a look at the descriptions of each career—try to picture yourself performing the daily tasks of the job. If they sound like things you would enjoy doing, you’ll know you’re on the right path.

What does an Esthetician do?

Beauty Care with a Focus on Skin

Estheticians have extensive training in caring for skin. They’re passionate about helping people feel confident and attractive, and helping them choose the right products for their skin type. An Esthetician is not to be confused with a dermatologist, which is a medical doctor who specializes in skin. An Esthetician can work in a salon, spa, or even a resort. Treatments they may perform include:

  • Waxing
  • Facials
  • Microdermabrasion
  • Chemical peels
  • LED light therapy
  • Eyelash extensions
  • Makeup application

Become a Certified Esthetician in Colorado

Becoming an Esthetician in Colorado is a relatively quick process. At IBMC College, the Esthetician career training program is just 6 months* long, and it includes a ton of hands-on beauty classes—from Facials and Skincare, to Hair Removal, and Management, Ethics, Interpersonal Skills & Salesmanship. After finishing your coursework, you’ll need to pass an exam to receive your certification as a licensed Esthetician in Colorado.

what does a Cosmetologist do?

A Hair-Centric Beauty Career

A Cosmetologist will mainly focus on clients’ hair, but is often also capable of assisting clients with makeup, nails and minor skin treatments as well. Usually, a Cosmetologist will begin their career working in a salon setting, but they can also work for themselves. In fact, 45% of Cosmetologists nationwide are self-employed. On any given day, a Cosmetologist might perform tasks like:

  • Hairstyling
  • Haircutting
  • Hair coloring
  • Perms
  • Up-dos
  • Hair treatments
  • Makeup artistry
  • Manicures and pedicures

 Become a Certified Cosmetologist in Colorado

To complete a Cosmetology diploma program in Colorado, you’ll need to clock a minimum of 1,500 hours on the salon floor. At IBMC College, you can fulfill that requirement and achieve your diploma in as little as 13 months.* Licensing for Cosmetologists also requires that you pass a state-mandated exam to show that you’ve learned what you need to be a competent Cosmetologist.

Getting Started with Beauty School

IBMC College offers both Cosmetology and Esthetician career training programs in Fort Collins, Greeley and Longmont, Colorado. View our program pages to learn more about specific program requirements, and how you can complete your beauty courses in just over a year.


*As prescribed, IBMC College’s Esthetician Certificate program can be completed in 6 months.

*As prescribed, IBMC College’s Cosmetology Diploma program can be completed in 13 months.

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