The beauty industry continues to enjoy explosive growth worldwide. If you’re creative, have strong interpersonal skills and want a career that you can prepare for in a relatively short amount of time, cosmetology might be right for you. According to government figures, cosmetologist monthly salary averages $2,069.
Cosmetologists may have one or more areas of specialization, depending on what they want to do and the clientele they serve. Cosmetology services typically include the following:
- Applying chemical straighteners or relaxers
- Applying hair extensions and hair pieces; fitting for wigs
- Creating styles for formal events and settings
- Cutting and styling hair
- Providing scalp massages and treatments
- Removing facial hair through waxing, depilatories or electrolysis
- Applying artificial and acrylic nails and nail tips
- Applying cuticle treatments
- Cleaning, trimming, filing, and buffing fingernails and toenails
- Polishing nails and applying nail art
- Applying makeup
- Applying topical beauty treatments
- Consulting with clients about skin-care products and care routines
- Exfoliating skin
- Giving makeup demonstrations, makeovers and lessons
Education and Licensing Requirements
Cosmetology education must include a minimum of 1,200 contact hours, including coursework in theory, hair styling and conditioning, nail and skin care and professional ethics. Cosmetology schools typically include classes in anatomy and physiology, hygiene, infection control and safety practices. Because cosmetology is a hands-on profession, you cannot earn an online certificate or diploma from an accredited school.
All 50 states require cosmetologists to be licensed. Requirements for licensing can vary slightly from state to state, so find out what’s necessary where you live. Your educational institution should have a career advisor who can help you obtain the information you need. Most states require separate licenses for different areas of the health and beauty industry.
Depending on the program, you can spend anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 to earn your credentials. When you consider that you can go to work after completing a program in nine to 12 months, cosmetology training is more affordable than many other career programs. Federal financial aid is available for accredited programs. Some schools also offer their own financial aid packages.
Cosmetologists typically work in salons that they own or that are owned by someone else. They may rent space in an independent salon or a chain establishment. Some cosmetologists set up salons in their homes, while others travel to clients’ homes to provide services. Cosmetologists with experience and the right credentials may opt to teach at a vocational-technical school or a school of cosmetology.
Many cosmetologists work full-time, but there are usually plenty of part-time opportunities as well. Job availability and working conditions depend on the employer and the demand for services in your location.
Cosmetologists often spend long hours on their feet. Depending on the services they provide, they may work with chemicals or specialized tools and equipment. They may work evenings or weekends to accommodate the needs of their clients.
Salary and Job Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics keeps track of salaries and growth projections for all civilian occupations. In 2018, yearly income for cosmetologists was at a median of $24,830. Median pay means that half in the profession earned more, and half earned less. Unreported tips may account for the low salary figure posted by the BLS. Yearly income for cosmetologists depends on clientele, hours worked, services provided and other factors.
The job outlook for cosmetologists is strong. The BLS predicts a job growth rate of 13 percent through 2026, a rate faster than average compared to all other occupations. Population increases, new styles and trends, along with increased demand for cosmetology services by men contribute to steady growth.