Personal Care Services

This course in Personal Care Services introduces students to a variety of careers in the following areas: cosmetology (including hairstyling and haircutting, esthetics, manicuring, makeup, and teaching) and barbering (including cutting and styling of hair and facial hair and manicuring for men); massage therapy, teaching body-mind disciplines (yoga, Pilates, and the martial arts), and fitness (general exercise classes and acting as a personal trainer); and mortuary science (embalming and funeral directing). The course teaches students about what each career entails and the education and training they will need to become credentialed in various career specialties. In addition, about half of the course is devoted to teaching knowledge associated with the various professions, so that students can get a feel for what they will have to learn and whether they would like to learn it.

Five of 30 lessons are devoted to anatomy, which will be a subject covered in some fashion in most educational programs that students undertake to become personal care professionals. The first anatomy lesson in Unit One covers the major organ systems. Additional anatomy lessons are on the integumentary system (Unit Two), the musculoskeletal system (Unit Three), the respiratory and cardiovascular systems (Unit Four), and the blood and lymph systems (Unit Five). Moreover, technical information that would be learned in the study of each profession is systematically covered as the course progresses through career tracks and particular job titles. Each unit also contains important information on health and safety issues, including legal issues, as they relate to various personal care professions. Ethics as they ought to be applied to the personal care professions are also covered in some depth.

As they progress through the course, students will learn about the educational requirements to pursue various job titles, along with how they will prepare themselves to become credentialed in a chosen profession. Most of the job titles discussed in this course will require some sort of professional licensure, and students are provided with detailed information on that subject. In some cases, job titles may require a credential from a recognized professional association. This information is also laid out in the course, and students are directed to where they can find additional information about education, training, and credentialing of personal care professionals. The course also provides important information about public and private options for education and how costs may differ.

The introductory material for each lesson is designed to pique student interest in the lesson content, and this preparatory material is highly engaging and covers a wide range of topics. In many instances, the teacher can actually use the material that is in the lesson's introduction as part of the course content, since many of these introductions do contain additional useful information about the lesson's topic. Finally, the course has distinctive environmental and holistic health strands, which are also reflected in the final project, and the teacher can choose to emphasize this portion of the course and even augment it with additional material.


  • Explore the various types of personal-care careers.
  • Investigate the structure and function of the human body.
  • Discuss the types of interpersonal skills needed for personal-care careers.
  • Investigate careers in the beauty industry.
  • Discuss the education, licensing, and training needed for a career in the beauty industry.
  • Examine health and safety issues and legal considerations of a career in the beauty industry.
  • Explore careers in the bodily health support industry.
  • Discuss the education, licensing, and training needed for a career in the bodily health support industry.
  • Examine health and safety issues and legal considerations of a career in the bodily health support industry.
  • Investigate careers in the areas of body-mind movement instruction and group exercise and fitness.
  • Investigate careers in the funeral-service industry.
  • Examine health and safety issues and legal considerations of a career in the funeral-service industry.
  • Discuss the ways in which these various careers interact.

This course has no prerequisites, other than a strong interest in learning about one or more of the careers covered in these lessons and the maturity to work independently to some degree.

Students will need an Internet connection, pen and paper, and a computer that they can use every day. It would be helpful if the teacher could spend some time teaching or reviewing the skill of Internet research—specifically, how to know whether a source is reliable or not—since many of the projects require Internet research. The teacher might also wish to review the pros and cons of using Wikipedia—which can be a good source when the researcher catches an entry after it has been vetted by several people. It is also important to teach students how to find Internet sources that were originally in print. Since the projects also include different types of writing, including essay- and research-paper writing, it would be helpful for the teacher or a librarian to go over the basics of paraphrasing, quoting, rules about avoiding plagiarism, and so on. Students will need to choose a style book. The MLA or APA stylebook would probably be most appropriate. APA is often used for the social or applied sciences. Some of the projects also require students to conduct interviews, so the teacher might want to explain how to conduct an interview. Some of the topics to be covered might include researching sources, preparing for an interview (writing questions), presenting oneself in a professional manner, taking notes, recording the conversation, and turning the interview into an article.

Students should have access to an anatomy textbook and can be encouraged to use the library to get additional books about the areas in which they have a high interest. For cosmetology, Milady or similar textbooks would be helpful. It should be easy to find books on massage, exercise, specialized mind-body disciplines such as yoga, Pilates, and various styles of martial arts, as well as more general books on the martial arts. Books on mortuary science might need to be ordered from other branches of the library if the local branch or high school library doesn't have books. However, advise students to use "undertaker" as a keyword when looking for books. Encourage students to also use the Internet for additional source materials.

State: National, California, Florida, Georgia, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Washington
Grade Level: 9, 10, 11, 12
Category: Human Services
Course Length: Semester