The Washington, D.C. Beauty Student's Resource Guide

D.C. may be the nation's center of government, but it can also be the perfect base for those working in the beauty industry. With various employment opportunities ranging from local salon spots to high-end spas, Washington, D.C., may be the ideal city to launch a successful beauty career.

This article explores what it's like to work as a beauty professional in Washington, D.C., with information on salaries, job growth prospects, employment opportunities, and more.

Salary and Job Growth for Washington, D.C. Beauty Careers

If you're looking to start a career in the beauty industry, Washington, D.C. could be the optimal location for you. Both cosmetologists and skin care specialists in Washington earn well above the national average for their industry, while barbers earn slightly less.

Career D.C. Salary National Salary
Cosmetologists $42,270 $32,610
Estheticians $51,660 $41,230
Barbers $32,030 $38,050

D.C. data and national data are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021).

When looking at projected job growth for cosmetologists, there's an expected increase in area jobs of 11% by 2028—which is much better than the national projection of -2%. The figures for estheticians and skin care specialists are also positive, with an anticipated growth of a whopping 20% over 10 years.

Career D.C. Growth National Growth
Cosmetologists 11% -2%
Estheticians 20% 17%

D.C. employment change (2018–2028) and national employment change (2019–2029) information is from CareerOneStop (2021).

Top Beauty Employers in Tampa and St. Petersburg

Washington, D.C. offers a wide range of different working environments for those in the beauty industry, from relaxing salons to specialist clinics and medispas. Although being on the list doesn't guarantee that the below businesses are currently hiring, researching local salons can give you an idea of what may be available when you start your career.

Skin Beauty Bar

749 8th Street Southeast, 2nd Floor
Washington, D.C. 20003

Owned and run by industry expert Meka Mathis, Skin Beauty Bar is located on Capitol Hill. It offers an array of beauty services, from facials and massages to lashes, microblading, and more.

The spa has been featured in several magazines, including InStyle, Allure, and Essence, and now has its own range of skin care and lip gloss products available for clients to purchase and take home.

Mathis—who trained at New York's Parsons School of Design—specially curated this gorgeous space to create a calming and relaxing atmosphere for clients and professionals alike as soon as they enter the building.

Corps d’Elite

1015 U Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20001

A luxurious Washington, D.C. salon, Corps d'Elite specializes in working with all hair types and textures, providing blowouts, haircuts, and color. Hairstylist and educator Shun Pittman founded the business in 2016 after working and training previously with companies including L'Oréal, Wella, Matrix, Paul Mitchell, Redken, Big Sexy Hair, and Toni & Guy.

The salon's high-end makeup line, Corps d'Elite Beauty, debuted at New York Fashion Week in 2017 and is a comprehensive line for all skin shades and tones made with fine pigments and quality ingredients.

Paris Alexander Day Spa

1642 R Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20009

Owner and namesake Paris Alexander opened this intimate boutique salon in 1994. Featured in several prominent publications, including Essence, Heart and Soul, the Washingtonian, and CBSlocal.com, the spa has also been spotlighted in local and national TV news.

Cited in the media as a hidden gem in the city's Dupont Circle neighborhood, the day spa offers a variety of services, including signature facials, anti-aging treatments, massages, and waxing. Custom packages also exist for men and women with a focus on relaxation and self-care.

Specialties and Certifications Washington, D.C. Beauty Students Should Consider

To work as a cosmetologist, barber, or esthetician in D.C., you'll first need to obtain the relevant license from the District of Columbia Board of Barber and Cosmetology. The same is true for specialties such as hair braiding and electrolysis, each of which has its own specific educational and licensing requirements.

With all three branches of government operating from within the city and a growing economy to keep up with, daily life for the businessmen and women of D.C. can be a tiring, high-stress environment. Massages and facials are both popular treatments with the city's go-getters, so specializing as a skin care specialist or massage therapist could be a particularly good option when carving out your future career.

To operate as a massage therapist in D.C., you must complete at least 500 hours of study at a state-registered school and earn a license from the District of Columbia Board of Massage Therapy. Your license has to be renewed every two years, which you can quickly and easily accomplish via the board's online portal.

If you'd rather specialize in skin care, you must first complete at least 600 study hours at a state-registered beauty school and then earn an esthetician's license. As with massage therapy, your license is up for renewal every two years, and you must complete at least six continuing education hours to be eligible for renewal.

Beauty School Scholarships and Grants for Washington, D.C. Students

There are several scholarship opportunities available to Washington, D.C. beauty students. First, look at the District of Columbia's government website for guidance on some of the local scholarship and financial aid options. Then, check your chosen school's financial aid page to see if they offer school-specific scholarships.

In addition, these nationwide options may be applicable:

  • The Beauty Changes Lives Scholarship: This organization awards various scholarships to students of cosmetology, esthetics, and other beauty programs across the U.S.
  • AACS: The American Association of Cosmetology Schools offers several scholarship opportunities to beauty school students nationwide under the ACE Grant program.

Looking For More Scholarships?

BeautySchoolsDirectory.com offers a $2,500 scholarship for beauty and wellness professionals. We've also gathered the most comprehensive list of nation-wide scholarships available for beauty students.

Top Beauty Student Supply Stores in Washington, D.C.

Georgia Beauty Supply

Located near the Georgia Avenue-Petworth Metro Station, Georgia Beauty Supply has been supplying beauty products for more than 21 years.

Owner Helen Wolde loved doing hair and makeup for as long as she can remember, and before opening her store, she worked at Sally's Beauty Supply. The store carries hair products for all hair types, essential oils, skin products, human hair wigs, braiding hair for weaving, hair dye, fragrances, makeup, bath products, and more.

Call: (202) 882-9660
Visit: 3659 Georgia Avenue Northwest, Washington, D.C. 20010

Kuku's Beauty Supply

Kuku's Beauty Supply is an independently owned hair, beauty, cosmetics, and fragrance supply store that serves a diverse community of beauty enthusiasts. The store sells a wide variety of hair and beauty products, focusing on natural hair and braids. They also stock beauty kits and highlight their favorite items of the moment to ensure their customers are well-informed about the latest products. You can provide your email address online for exclusive discounts.

Call: (202) 248-0343
Visit: 7327 Georgia Avenue Northwest, Washington, D.C. 20012

Marie's Beauty Supply

Marie's Beauty Supply is a family-owned business that first opened its doors in Maryland in 2016, before moving to D.C. just one year later. The store sells hair and skin care supplies and focuses on natural hair and beauty. They also send out items through Uber and Postmates so customers across the Washington area can receive their favorite beauty products without needing to leave the house.

Founder Marie was a successful accountant at Cameroon's General Bank for over 11 years before moving to the United States. She says that she wishes to inspire others who want to start a business and juggle life simultaneously.

Call: (202) 450-1678
Visit: 1012 H Street Northeast, Washington, D.C. 20002

Beauty Island

This centrally-located beauty supply store carries a wide range of hair and beauty products, from jewelry and deep conditioning treatments to wigs, braids, extensions, and more. Beauty Island also regularly hosts in-store events and demonstrations, with past topics including natural hair de-tangling, massage, and Clairol hair color training classes.

Call: (202) 518-6700
Visit: 651 Florida Avenue Northwest, Washington, D.C. 20001

Veer & Wander

For more of a boutique experience, visit Veer & Wander. Inspired by founder Connie McGrath's love of visiting her neighborhood pharmacy as a child, this luxurious store is a modern take on the Old World apothecary, led by the motto of "Don't be Toxic." Connie has over 30 years of experience in the beauty industry and uses that knowledge to seek out new and emerging beauty and wellness brands from around the world, with a focus on non-toxic and CBD brands.

Call: (202) 516-9770
Visit: 1260 5th Street Northeast, Washington, D.C. 20002

Other Resources for Washington, D.C. Beauty Students

The District of Columbia Board of Barber and Cosmetology
This is the official state board responsible for regulating barbers, body artists, and cosmetologists, including specialty practices such as braiding, electrolysis, manicuring, and more.

The District of Columbia Department of Health, Health Regulation and Licensing Administration
This board deals with more medically focused professional licenses, such as massage and podiatry.

National Beauty Culturists' League, Inc.
This cosmetology industry membership organization is headquartered in Washington, D.C. but has chapters all over the country. Membership provides you with industry information, discounts, access to an annual conference, and educational and networking opportunities.

American Cosmetic Manufacturers Association
If you plan to develop your own cosmetic or skin care products, this organization can help you understand regulations and achieve the necessary certifications.

Washington Life magazine
This popular publication focuses on local news and events and has a bustling style and beauty section with information on local salons and trends.

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