How to Begin a Professional Career as a Cosmetologist

Cosmetologists: A Quick Look
Median Salary$22,770 per annum
Entry-level educationCosmetology school
On-the-job trainingNo formal program
Primary employersPersonal care services
Number of positions (U.S.)663,300
Job Growth (2010-2020)13% (Faster than national average)
New positions (2010-2020)+83,300

How to Begin a Professional Career as a CosmetologistWhat Does A Cosmetologist Do?

A cosmetologist is a beauty professional with training in a wide variety of beauty services, including hair, skin, and nails. Read more.

Salary

Cosmetologists must complete a 9-12 month associate’s degree and meet state licensing requirements. Read more.

Becoming A Cosmetologist

Cosmetologists must complete a 9-12 month associate’s degree and meet state licensing requirements. Find out how to begin a professional career as a Cosmetologist Read more.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for cosmetologists is expected to be average, with a national projected growth rate of 16% from 2010-2020. Read more.

Cosmetologist Salary

The median annual cosmetologist salary is around $22,770 per year. Although, cosmetologists are usually paid by the hour. The median hourly wage of cosmetologists in the United States is around $10.95 per hour. The top 10% earned $42,411 per year ($20.39/hour) or more, while the bottom 10% earned $16,869 per year or less ($8.11/hour). A large percentage of cosmetologists work part time hours. However, cosmetologists who work as managers or owners of their own salons generally work long hours.

How To Become A Cosmetologist

Cosmetologists in the United States must complete an associate’s degree in a state licensed cosmetology program. Many positions also require a high school diploma or a GED.

How Long Does It Take To Become A Cosmetologist?

It takes around 9 months to 1 year to become a cosmetologist.

Educational Requirements

In order to be licensed as a cosmetologist, individuals must graduate from an accredited cosmetology school or program. The typical cosmetology program lasts 9 months and leads to an associate’s degree. The student will also receive instruction in general knowledge areas such as scalp disease, nail enhancement safety, hair styling principles, make up application, and more. The student will also learn and get to practice their haircutting and styling, hair color treatments, chemical texture services, manicures, pedicures, applying acrylic nails, massages, facials, eyebrow shaping, waxing, and other beauty techniques or treatments depending on the program and the coursework chosen. Some programs may also offer business courses in salon management.

Licensing

All cosmetologists must be licensed by their state. The specific requirements vary from state to state, but the most common requirements include:
  • Must have a high school diploma or GED
  • Must be at least 16 years old
  • Must have graduated from a state-licensed cosmetology program
  • Must have passed the state licensing exam
The state licensing exam may consist of both a written exam, and in some cases a practical or oral test as well. Some states have agreements whereas licensed practitioners in one state can apply for a license in another state without taking the local state exam, and/or receiving additional training. For more details on licensing, consult with the licensing body within your state.

Cosmetologist Job Description

What does a cosmetologist do? Cosmetologists are beauty professionals who have training in treating skin, hair, and nails. They might offer flattering suggestions for hairstyles, skincare, nail care, and makeup application. They might also be responsible for giving pedicures, manicures, styling hair, doing makeup, or a combination of these roles. Most cosmetologists work in private salons, but some cosmetologists also go on to work in film, fashion, or magazines. Depending on their level of experience and business experience, cosmetologists might also go on to manage or open their own salon, become sales representatives for cosmetics or beauty products companies, or work as an instructor in cosmetology school.

Duties

A cosmetologists' duties may vary from employer to employer and depending on their specialization. However, some common day-to-day tasks of a cosmetologist includes:
  • Performing scalp massages
  • Applying makeup
  • Applying hair coloring
  • Giving clients beauty advice and suggestion
  • Cutting and styling hair
  • Giving pedicures or manicures
  • Showing clients how to perform home treatments

Job Outlook

The job outlook for cosmetologists is average, with the number of positions in the country expected to rise 13%, which is in line with the national expected average for all jobs of 11%. Demand will continue to increase for services like hair coloring and other advanced hair treatments. While the overall job market in the profession looks strong, competition for positions at high-end, high-paying salons will be continue to be fierce.

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Posted in Culinary Arts and Personal Services, Glossary of Careers

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