Cosmetology at NMU

In the cosmetology program, you will learn the art, science and business of the beauty industry. Students completing the program can choose to work in a specific area of the cosmetology field or advance their training to become a Cosmetology instructor. Students in the cosmetology program will receive a combination of classroom and laboratory work, with opportunities to practice their skills on mannequins and actual customers in the campus salon/studio. Students will learn hair shaping, hair coloring, chemical texturizing, design and artistic principles. Additional subjects include: artificial nails, bacteriology, decontamination, infection control, manicures and pedicures as prescribed by the Michigan State Board of Cosmetology Laws and Rules. 

In their first semester, students will purchase books, and a cosmetology kit consisting of items such as manikins, shears, clippers, combs, rollers, etc. This is a one-time cost for the program. For current kit pricing, contact the NMU Barnes & Noble Bookstore.

Licensure Information

To learn more about the state licensure requirements, visit our licensure page.

Employment Opportunities

Employment opportunities can vary depending on interest. Graduates are employed as cosmetologists, skin care specialists, stylists, salon managers/owners, nail technicians, education specialists, manufacturer's representatives, makeup artists and retail specialists. While many graduates accept positions in beauty salons or barber shops, others work in department stores, drug and cosmetic stores and educational facilities. They will have a profession that is easily transportable and needed by most of the population. 

Annual Wages


Projected Job Growth

to 2029
+12% (Michigan)

Education Levels

of current workers
44% high school diploma
32% some college
12% associate degree
6% bachelor's degree

Earnings, job growth and education levels noted are from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (National), and CareerOneStop/U.S. Department of Labor (Michigan).


Cosmetology student working on hair

Two year certificate - cosmetologist (64 credits)

The cosmetology certificate program prepares graduates for employment as professional cosmetologists, performing work as a cosmetologist, manicurist, esthetician and natural hair culturist. This certification is needed to prepare gradates for entry-level positions in the work environment. Scientific principles and theories are applied through hands-on techniques. This certificate is built on the student's first semester as the foundation for work on the public. Second semester builds on this foundation by adding to the practical theories and applications that were not taught in the prior semester. Third semester adds the advanced techniques that would be found in a professional salon. Fourth semester prepares the student for owning and operating a business, preparing for the state board exam, and completing a review of all theory to become eligible to take the Michigan State Board Examination. 


Esthetics student working on facial

One semester certificate - esthetics (16 credits)

For those interested in pursing a career focused entirely on skin care, the esthetics certificate can be completed in one semester. This program provides skills in the study of the skin as it pertains to the head, face and neck. Students will experience learning through guided practice by skilled faculty. Topics will include: sanitation, safety, general anatomy and physiology, disorders and diseases of the skin, artistic principles, skin care techniques and temporary hair removal. After completing the certificate students will be eligible to take the Michigan State Board examination. 


Cosmetology students in the Salon

One semester certificate - manicure (16 credits)


Cosmetology Instructor working with student

One semester certificate - cosmetology instructor (18 credits)

Students enrolled in the cosmetology instructor program receive training about the Michigan laws governing the cosmetology profession, teaching techniques, record keeping and administration of a school of cosmetology. They will work closely with the instructors, students and visiting customers. 

NMU Financial Aid Information for Cosmetology

The Salon

Northern Michigan University’s cosmetology students gain essential experience within a full salon setting. After completing the necessary theory and practical applications (350 hours working with mannequins), cosmetology students begin their work with customers. The Cosmetology Salon operates in a new space in the Northern Center on Northern Michigan University's campus.

Students, faculty, staff and members of the community are invited to schedule an appointment to take advantage of the following services:

  • haircuts
  • braids/extensions
  • coloring
  • perms
  • manicures/pedicures
  • facials
  • conditioning treatments
  • styling (i.e. proms, weddings)

Appointments are available Mondays through Thursdays between 10:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. during the academic year, the end of August through the end of April with break for Thanksgiving and other holidays as well. Call (906) 227-2383 for reservations.