Learn more about careers in cosmetology. Find information on cosmetology careers, job outlook, salary, and recommended schools. View popular schools that prepare students for careers as cosmetologists.
Cosmetology includes a broad scope of professionals that serve as personal appearance workers. Barbers, hair dressers, manicurists, shampooers and skin care professionals all work to provide customers with beauty services that are aimed at enhancing personal appearance and overall well being. Cosmetologists may also be responsible for keeping client records to track customer’s personal beauty habits. Based on these records, cosmetologists may be able provide clients with recommendations for beauty enhancement. For instance, cosmetologists may sell beauty products that may be useful for customers to engage in home nail, hair or skin care. Cosmetologists can work with clients to provide them with the tools, materials and skills that they need to maintain beauty and appearance between appointments.
Professionals working in the field of cosmetology should be conscious of their personal appearance. Because cosmetology professionals work to enhance the beauty of others, attention to appearance is often an important indication of the abilities of the professional. Individuals seeking positions in this field are often self-employed. Cosmetologists that are self-employed typically work more than 40 hours per week which may include evening and weekend shift. Cosmetologists that work in beauty shops typically have variable schedules to meet the needs of their clients.
Cosmetologists typically provide basic beauty services that include shampooing, hair cutting, coloring and hair styling. In addition these professionals may choose to become certified as nail technicians to provide clients with manicures and pedicures. Cosmetologists may also receive training to provide skin and facial treatments, makeup analysis and hair extensions/wigs. While most cosmetologists are directly employed in beauty salons or barbershops, some are also employed in spas, resorts and hotels. In most states, cosmetologists are required to have completed a high school diploma or GED. Because licensure is often needed, those seeking employment in this field may also need to attend a licensed cosmetology school. Upon completing these programs, most cosmetologists will have the needed skills to provide a wide range of services to clients. Additional certification may be needed for professionals seeking to provide nail services, e.g., manicures and pedicures. Licenses obtained by cosmetologists must be periodically renewed for professionals to remain in the field.
Salaries for those working in the field of cosmetology will vary based on the specific services provided by the professional. Cosmetologists working only as hair dressers had average hourly earnings of $11.13 in 2008. This includes base wages and tips provided by customers. Hair dressers at the top of their profession can earn as much as $20.41 per hour. Skin care specialists had average hourly earnings of $13.81 in 2008 which also includes base wages and tips. In general, wages for cosmetologists increase with experience. Cosmetologists typically work to establish a client base that provides a regular source of income. Most often, positions in beauty shops are provided on a part-time basis. Although this provides the cosmetologist with a flexible work schedule, certain benefits including healthcare coverage and paid vacation are often not included as part of the professional’s salary. Cosmetologists that are self-employed will face similar challenges in securing benefits.
The employment outlook for cosmetologists is positive overall. In general, employment growth in the industry is pegged at 20 percent through 2018. This growth rate is higher than for most occupations. Even though average growth in the industry is high, there are some variations based on the specific position sought by the professional. For instance, job opportunities for hair dresses are expected in increased by 20 through 2018. However, job growth for barbers will be much lower at 12 percent over the same time period. Job growth for skin care professionals is expected to increase by 38 percent through 2018. The number of positions available in spas and hotels is also projected to increase, due to the popularity of these services. Cosmetologists can also seek work in other positions such as fashion consultants or sales representatives for salon products. Growth in these areas will also fuel the need for more cosmetologists.