Training to be a cosmetologist is pretty extensive and includes many different sub-categories. Modern beauty schools and institutes offer a great variety of programs in cosmetology. The three basic specialties that are available in almost all the institutes are manicurist, esthetician and hair stylist (also known as hairdresser).
The first profession is one of the easiest in the field. There is no need to have a great number of medical courses - usually they only deal with the specialty. Because of that, manicurist programs are usually the shortest.
Another sub-category of beautician is the esthetician. That profession takes more effort than that of the manicurist. As long as more advanced knowledge of skin analysis is needed the program of esthetician includes many different medical disciplines. For example, medical terminology and the basics of pharmacology are the usual courses for esthetician.
There is also a sort of esthetician that needs an even deeper knowledge of medicine - the medical esthetician. These specialists usually work as assistants to a cosmetic surgeon, providing patients with pre-and post operative care.
In order to perform hairdresser tasks there is no need of so deep a knowledge of medicine, but the courses that the hair dresser must take are still pretty complex. Of course, to advise on hair care and head skin care, the hair stylist needs a special education and hairdresser programs includes all the necessary courses. In many cases mastering even basic hairdresser tasks takes longer than for the esthetician programs. Although the actual hairdresser tasks are not that hard, it is the actual number of different procedures the hair dresser performs that is difficult to learn. Hairdresser tasks are not only cutting, conditioning and strightening hair of clients as many people think - it is much more than that. The number of possible hairdresser tasks is so big that usually hair stylists need an assistant, or even several assistants, in a bigger beauty salon. In fact, many hair stylists (even the most well-known) have been working as hairdresser assistants or coloring technicians performing simple hairdresser tasks before they started to work as a specialist. So, if you are going to be a hair stylist, be ready to work as a technician for a while. It may be that such a position is not that pleasant for someone who dreams to be a world-known hair stylist, but it will allow you to master all the possible parts of the profession and to learn all the nuances of the practice.
Every aspect of cosmetology requires training under an appropriate expert. There is no chance to become a high qualified professional without an appropriate practice. All beauty institute programs include special workplace training. While training, beauty students work as professionals but with a smaller paycheck, or without payment at all. That is a wonderful opportunity for clients - they can easily get just the same services as in beauty salons but for less money or even for free. But for some specialties even that amount of practice is not enough.