Cosmetology Job Description, Career Options and Cosmetologist Salary

Cosmetologist Job Description

Do You Want to Know How To Become a Cosmetologist?

Have you ever wondered what makes cosmetology such an appealing occupation for all kinds of beauty professionals? Beauty Schools Directory aims to make it simple for you to learn about cosmetology careers, find the right training and tap into other helpful information. Here’s what you will find on this page…

  • Tips to help you find the right path in cosmetology
  • Answers to common questions about beauty school
  • An easy way to search for all kinds of programs in this field
  • Resources used by over 2 million students to connect with beauty schools

Are you ready to view your beauty school options right now? Just use our simple search tools to get started.

Or, scan the list of common cosmetology questions below to learn more about the colorful world of beauty careers…

Common Cosmetology FAQ’s and Student Resources…

What are the best ways to find and compare cosmetology training?

There are many things you need to consider when choosing the best beauty school program for you. After you review the quick items listed below, take a peek at our more complete “How to Choose a Beauty School” checklist. When you are ready to contact schools about their programs, keep the following questions and considerations in mind:

  • Which kind of cosmetology program meets your state’s license requirements for your preferred career?
  • Is the program approved by your state’s Board of Cosmetology?
  • Do the financial aid options meet your needs?
  • Does the class schedule fit your current personal and work schedule?
  • Is the curriculum aligned with your desired profession?

In addition to these considerations, we recommend speaking with 3-4 cosmetology schools to make sure you choose the right one.

Are you just starting to consider cosmetology career options? If so, let’s start with some basic information that you might want to know before contacting beauty schools…

What Does A Cosmetologist Do Exactly?

Beauty professionals earn their cosmetology license for a variety of reasons. Some want to offer several services like hairstyling, skincare, nail treatments and makeup. Others want to work in one specific area, but have to complete a cosmetology program to fulfill state requirements.

Here are the main types of cosmetology & beauty programs:

  • Cosmetology (hair, skin, nails, makeup)
  • Barbering
  • Makeup
  • Hair design
  • Nail technician
  • Permanent makeup
  • Hair braiding

Some beauty schools offer additional programs in related areas, such as:

  • Massage therapy
  • Laser training
  • Salon management
  • Teacher training
  • Fashion design
  • And more!

Cosmetologists perform several services throughout their day, depending on their role. If your focus is hairstyling and cutting, you may juggle clients that require the latest coloring, cuts and styles, as well as curling, weaves, extensions, or other hair services. Try to find a beauty program that includes the benefit of career advisors and real-world training hours. Here is an example from Bloomington, Minnesota, of a school where employers who need workers with stellar skills often approach graduates.

Just think what an advantage it would be to have experienced professionals with connections to local employers on your side.

Do I Need Esthetician Training?

For some cosmetology careers, your state may give you the option of esthetician or cosmetology licensing. If you have this option, and want to compare programs, here is the skinny…

Esthetician Training Basics:

  • Focus on facial skincare
  • Makeup artistry usually included in the curriculum
  • Integrates the art and the science behind facial skincare
  • Specialized skills, such as wraps and extractions included
  • Usually requires fewer hours of training than cosmetology programs
  • Could be a preferred option for students wanting makeup artist careers

Cosmetology Safety, Sanitation & Work Environment

When you compare curriculum for cosmetology programs, be sure you look for courses that cover critical topics outside your core skills.

  • Safety & sanitation
  • State health department regulations that pertain to your role
  • Client communication and customer service skills
  • The basics of business professionalism for cosmetologists

In addition to learned skills, it’s important to understand what makes clients come back, besides your awesome cuts and styles.

Here are additional skills that can help you succeed in your cosmetology career:

  • Personal, friendly personality
  • Creative eye for style and design
  • Physical ability to stand for long periods of time
  • Natural interest in color theory, physiology of the skin, hair and nails
  • Ability to learn how to use tools, such as scissors, clippers and razors

What Is The Current Salary and Job Outlook for Cosmetology Professionals?

For salary and career outlook information, we cite the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for the most accurate and reliable data. However, you will want to check multiple sources to understand the job and salary potential for cosmetologists near you. This is a topic you must address when you compare all your beauty school options. Plus, we recommend looking at local job boards and speaking with current professionals.

According to data we gathered in 2017, cosmetologists in the United States earned an average wage of $23,710 per year. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when researching potential salary in the field of cosmetology…

Factors affecting your beautician salary…

  • Where you live
  • Working full-time or part-time
  • Whether you work at a salon or for yourself
  • Salary potential can vary wildly, even in the same region
  • Poor reporting of tips can skew salary data lower than it actually is

Cosmetologists who work for salons are likely paid an hourly wage in addition to tips from clients. Beauticians who rent a booth in a salon typically keep all their proceeds after deducting the fees for their booth rental. You could also choose to be entirely independent and do on-site cosmetology services or work out of your home, in which case you can keep all of the proceeds with minimal overhead.

What Are The Best Career Options For A Cosmetologist?

A career in cosmetology can lead to a variety of professions in the beauty industry, including:

  • Hairstylist
  • Nail technician
  • Salon or spa manager
  • Beautician
  • Wedding and Event Stylist
  • Makeup artist
  • Esthetician

Some licensed professionals choose careers in the beauty industry as beauty magazine editors or consultants, while others become sales or marketing specialists in the cosmetics industry. Still others go on to teach beauty school and pass on their knowledge and skills to the next generation.

What Is the Future Job Outlook For Cosmetologists?

The growth of jobs for cosmetologists, hairdressers and barbers is expected to increase at a rate of 10% between through 2024. This is higher than the national average, which is currently 7%. An encouraging piece of information if you are thinking of becoming a hairdresser!

Like salary data, you should look at state and local job rates to determine your potential earnings. For instance, here are the top 5 states for employment of cosmetologists.

Top 5 states for cosmetology employment in the U.S.:

  1. California
  2. New York
  3. Pennsylvania
  4. Florida
  5. Texas

Of course, when you look at the top 5 states for salary potential, you’ll see that employment rates and pay rates don’t always line up.

Top 5 states for cosmetology salary in the United States:

  1. District of Columbia - $40,560
  2. Hawaii - $38,020
  3. Washington - $37,280
  4. New Jersey - $35,390
  5. Massachusetts - $35,370

Ready to speak with top cosmetology schools about your salary potential and the opportunities to work as a cosmetologist in your area?

Use our school search resources to quickly narrow your options!

What Is A Day-In-The-Life Of A Cosmetologist Like?

Want a breakdown of the nuts and bolts of cosmetology and stylist careers? Here is a nutshell of what you can expect throughout your day…

Prepare For Your Clients

Ideally, you will review your client list before you leave work the night before. This will help you get a mental picture of what your day may look like. There will be enough surprises throughout your day, so you’ll want to prepare as best you can. Make sure you have the products and equipment you will need to provide the services you have booked. If you don’t get a chance to do this the day before, make it the first item on your list. Many stylists plan to use any free time in the appointment schedule to call and remind future appointments that they’re scheduled in the near future, which greatly reduces no-shows.

Prepare Your Work Station

Every time you enter the salon, pretend the health inspector is walking alongside you. Not only will you check to see if you have all the products you need for your clients, you should do a spot check to make sure there are no health code violations. Make sure your station is clean, organized and tidy, and is a place your clients will feel comfortable.

Client Consultations

Some clients will know exactly what they want when they book their appointment, and others, not so much. That’s where your eye for style will come in handy! Part of your job includes analyzing your client’s features and physiology to determine what styles may work best for them. This is why you should always be on the lookout for the newest styles and trends. Each appointment should begin with the client consultation, where you will ask a number questions to learn what the client wants you to accomplish. When you reach a full understanding of what the client wants, the services can then begin.

Performing Cosmetology Services

Hair stylists will…

  • Shampoo & condition
  • Cut, trim, style
  • Color
  • Perm
  • Provide other hair services

Nail techs may perform…

  • Manicures
  • Polish removal
  • Cuticle treatments
  • Polishing
  • Nail art

Makeup artist tasks include…

  • Bridal
  • Seasonal
  • Color pallet selection
  • Eye and lip treatments
  • Male and senior makeup
  • Special effects
  • Theatrical
  • Film/TV

And don’t forget: Clients keep coming back to the same stylists because they get personal attention, quality service, and enjoy the atmosphere your salon provides. When you develop your skills, try to grow into a beautician that treats clients like partners in their experience.

Scheduling Appointments and Administrative Work

When the appointment is complete, don't forget to tell the client when they would like to see the customer next, and try to get them to book their next appointment before they pay and leave. For example, “To maintain the look of this haircut, I need to see you back in 6 weeks. I can get you scheduled right now if you like.” Cosmetologists should also remind their happy, loyal customers that they love referral business so you can continue to grow your clientele!

This isn’t the most glamorous part of the job, but it’s definitely one of the most essential functions you’ll perform. When you compare cosmetology programs, look for courses that include topics in administrative functions, such as scheduling and marketing. Most salons rely on retail sales for additional income. And with social media tools, such as Instagram and Facebook, it only makes sense to market your work to potential clients in these ways. Creating coupon deals and referral programs are additional strategies you can learn from experienced professionals.

Are You Ready To Learn How To Become A Cosmetologist Right Now? Perfect!

The first to becoming a cosmetologist is finding the best beauty school for your career goals. Your best bet is to start by contacting schools in your state that understand the requirements, job landscape, local employers, and other information that will help you move forward. You can also click here for more information about what you learn in cosmetology school. Many beauty schools offer several start dates throughout the year. See what programs are starting soon in your city!

What are cosmetology school and license requirements in most states?

You will need to check with each school, but there is a general set of requirements that top cosmetology schools adhere to. These would include:

  • GED or high school education
  • 16 years of age or older
  • Must complete a board-approved program

How long is cosmetologist training?

The BLS (2017) says that most cosmetology training programs last about 9 months. This will depend on what type of program you choose. Certificate and diploma programs can typically be completed in 9-12 months. Meanwhile, an Associate’s program in Cosmetology will require about 18-24 months of training. The last portion of your program is typically your clock hours required for licensure. This will take place in a real work environment, or some form of training facility set up by your school.

No matter how long your options for training last, make sure any program you choose meets your state requirements for cosmetologist licensure.

How much does cosmetologist school cost?

The cost to enroll in cosmetology school will depend on a variety of factors, including:

  • Number of required courses
  • Location of beauty school
  • Facilities and equipment required
  • Type of program (degree, certificate, diploma)
  • Campus or blend of online

Are you ready to speak with beauty schools about cosmetology careers?

That works, because we are ready to help you get started. Just take a few moments to narrow your search by your state and preferred cosmetology programs. Don’t be afraid to compare different types of programs, and several school options. How else will you know for sure if you’re making the right decision?

Good luck on your road to a career in the creative, colorful world of beauty. Let’s be friends on social media, so we can keep up with your success and inspire others to pursue beauty careers!

You can also get more cosmetology information here or contact us with your questions. We love hearing from students who want to pursue cosmetology training, and will help you any way we can. As one of the largest directories of beauty schools online, that’s our promise to you!


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