Cosmetology Schools & Programs

salon professional on the job

Cosmetology offers a creative outlet for individuals interested in hair styling, makeup artistry, and skincare. Cosmetology careers often offer flexible schedules, and work is always in demand.

Trade Schools with Cosmetology Programs

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Cosmetologists provide a wide range of beauty services to customers. They style hair, apply makeup, give facial treatments, and perform manicures and pedicures. A cosmetologist’s skill set draws from related fields such as barbering, makeup arts, nail care, and skin care.

Part of a cosmetologist’s job is to make people feel good about their looks. They give advice on style and appearance while keeping up with beauty as well as fashion trends. Workers sell services, products, and inform guests about promotions, such as rewards programs.

Salary

The cosmetologist pay rate usually begins at $16.00 an hour plus tips. An average employee earns around $33k per year. Visit the BLS website for more information.

Below is a table of annual wages and salaries by state.

Area Name Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage(2)
Alabama $17.38 $36,140.00
Alaska $15.67 $32,590.00
Arizona $20.23 $42,070.00
Arkansas $13.71 $28,510.00
California $21.64 $45,020.00
Colorado $22.28 $46,340.00
Connecticut $18.47 $38,420.00
Delaware $18.28 $38,020.00
District of Columbia $33.78 $70,260.00
Florida $16.84 $35,040.00
Georgia $17.79 $37,000.00
Guam $14.37 $29,890.00
Hawaii $16.43 $34,170.00
Idaho $15.10 $31,410.00
Illinois $21.39 $44,490.00
Indiana $15.01 $31,220.00
Iowa $16.55 $34,420.00
Kansas $17.23 $35,840.00
Kentucky $13.67 $28,440.00
Louisiana $13.82 $28,740.00
Maine $22.74 $47,300.00
Maryland $20.29 $42,210.00
Massachusetts $23.42 $48,710.00
Michigan $20.56 $42,760.00
Minnesota $20.17 $41,950.00
Mississippi $14.27 $29,690.00
Missouri $18.83 $39,160.00
Montana $17.37 $36,140.00
Nebraska $19.89 $41,360.00
Nevada $13.90 $28,910.00
New Hampshire $16.68 $34,690.00
New Jersey $20.29 $42,210.00
New Mexico $13.85 $28,810.00
New York $20.68 $43,010.00
North Carolina $19.20 $39,930.00
North Dakota $17.58 $36,570.00
Ohio $19.39 $40,320.00
Oklahoma $16.44 $34,190.00
Oregon $18.18 $37,820.00
Pennsylvania $16.55 $34,430.00
Puerto Rico $11.23 $23,360.00
Rhode Island $14.93 $31,050.00
South Carolina $15.75 $32,760.00
South Dakota $18.13 $37,720.00
Tennessee $18.22 $37,910.00
Texas $14.74 $30,660.00
Utah $18.90 $39,320.00
Vermont $18.28 $38,020.00
Virginia $19.04 $39,610.00
Washington $23.06 $47,970.00
West Virginia $15.72 $32,700.00
Wisconsin $17.16 $35,700.00
Wyoming $13.60 $28,290.00

Occupation:Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists (SOC Code395012)
source: data.bls.gov

For experienced workers, yearly salary packages can exceed $60k. Job benefits and incentives often include the following:

  • Performance rewards like monthly cash bonuses and gift cards
  • Sick days and paid vacation
  • Medical insurance and healthcare coverage
  • Dental and vision policies
  • Flexible scheduling
  • Maternity leave
  • Career advancement opportunities

Career Overview

Job Description

Demanding yet rewarding, cosmetology jobs are great for those who love helping people. The career requires attention to detail in a wide range of applications.

These workers analyze hair condition, treat damaged hair, and cut split ends. They train to properly execute all phases of hair care from shampooing and drying to cutting, and a final style.

Job Duties

A typical cosmetologist performs the following tasks:

  • Cutting and trimming according to customer requests
  • Curling and setting
  • Shaping and arranging, making suggestions where needed
  • Bleaching, dying, and tinting using brushes and applicators
  • Grooming and applying wigs or hairpieces
  • Barbering men’s hair and trimming beards or moustaches

Other than hair care, there are several other duties associated with cosmetology jobs. Workers perform moisturizing scalp treatments, perform skin beauty routines, and administer makeup using concealer, foundation, and primer.

They also affix eyelash extensions, wax unwanted hair, and at times give relaxation massages.

These workers more or less spend their entire shift walking, standing, using their hands, bending over, and lifting up to 25 pounds.

While there is no physical fitness test to become a cosmetologist, recruits should be able-bodied and ready to move.

What Types of Skills Should Cosmetologists Possess?

More than anything, a good cosmetologist follows client instructions to apply makeup and hair products. They make style suggestions when needed, combining their creativity with the customer’s request to perform beyond expectations. These workers must be able to listen to and fulfill the requests of patrons.

For cosmetologists, critical thinking skills are mandatory. Employees need to visualize results on clients to determine if any suggestions or changes are necessary. The most sought-after beauticians are observant, creative, and assertive.

Work Environment

While they typically don’t work in offices, cosmetologists process paperwork and handle data entry duties. They use computers to edit customer info, schedule clients, and adjust financial values. Employees may also need to update patron haircut preferences and make note of the services provided.

Here are a few other duties attributed to cosmetology jobs:

  • Place orders for shampoos and other supplies
  • Check receipts to make sure all inventory arrives in the proper amounts
  • Remain aware of when things are added or removed from inventory
  • Foresee salon needs and make plans accordingly

Beauticians follow rigid health regulations to ensure a sanitary work area. These rules vary between each state board of cosmetology. In order to stay compliant, employees must:

  • Sweep hair
  • Put away tools
  • Clean up workstations

Proper upkeep of salon equipment ensures their longevity and ease of use. Additional cosmetologist maintenance duties may include:

  • Cleaning bathrooms, re-stocking paper towels and soap dispensers
  • Mopping and vacuuming floors
  • Disinfecting door handles and credit card machines
  • Wiping down the front desk and computer

Workers also need to use rubbing alcohol for sanitizing equipment like:

  • Electric clippers
  • Scissors
  • Combs and brushes
  • Razors
  • Tweezers
  • Brushes and applicators

What Should Workers Expect?

Expect challenges by customers such as unusual or arduous requests. Before landing a full-time gig, new recruits should practice and refine their skills as much as possible. To do this, train with mannequins or experiment with willing friends and family members.

There’s nothing worse than giving the wrong haircut to a customer, or applying makeup improperly and having to start from scratch. Taking the proper precautions to avoid these scenarios will save a great deal of headache.

Sales & Commissions Work

To get more patrons through the door, workers inform customers of promotions, sales, and specials. They keep patrons updated on services offered at the salon, suggestively selling products when possible.

Cosmetologists promote goods like shampoo, conditioners, hair styling gel, soap, and makeup. From time to time, workers may perform demonstrations or use samples on customers.

Sometimes employees earn a commission when selling these items.

A good cosmetologist assists management in creating effective marketing campaigns. Their knowledge of customer wants, needs, and personal traits can help to better craft these promotions.

Social media sites will help get the word out about salon companies and their services. When executed properly, analyzing key demographics and targeting them with adverts may significantly increase business.

Why Do Cosmetologists Need People Skills?

Cosmetologists are expected to greet customers when they walk through the salon door. They must answer phones, schedule appointments, and calculate wait times. This requires workers to maintain polite demeanors.

To encourage repeat business, cosmetologists build professional relationships with clients. They also address questions and resolve disputes. Employees strive to make patrons feel comfortable during their visit.

Workers cooperate with fellow staff members to maintain a friendly environment. They coordinate with each other to accomplish tasks, adhere to performance standards, and train new hires. Associates must develop plans to prioritize goals and accomplish tasks.

To keep up with current trends, salons may send their stylists to mandatory training programs. Some companies ask beauticians to read industry publications and attend workshops to further their knowledge.

Associates need to know how to operate cash registers and balance a drawer. Most employees handle money, process credit card transactions, and keep sales records. They may need to make nightly bank deposits after their store closes.

What Are Useful Skills for People in This Field?

  • A passion for fashion and giving style advice
  • Experience in hair cutting and makeup application
  • Customer service and communication abilities
  • Capable of selling or upselling products and services
  • Willing to stand for extended periods
  • Problem solving skills and fine attention to detail
  • A steady hand and sharp focus
  • Decision making, problem solving, and analytical abilities
  • Honestly and common courtesy

Requirements for Cosmetology Jobs

In most cases, a cosmetology license is required for employment in this field. The ideal candidate is a high school graduate with formal beauty school training. This may include vocational, trade, or college cosmetology courses. Many salons ask that new hires have two or more years of hands-on experience in the field.

Job seekers should compile a work portfolio to display their abilities to employers. Include before and after photos of hair stylings, manicures, makeup designs, and other relevant procedures.

When filling out a cosmetology application, give all possible info about previous work experience in similar fields. Also include details on:

  • Certificates
  • Awards
  • Licenses
  • Cosmetology degrees

Talk about the aspects of cosmetology that interest you most. Remember that employers look for recruits with good attendance records and positive attitudes.

During the interview process, be prepared to answer questions about your experience and qualifications. Answer these inquiries by stating how your skills can contribute to the salon’s overall success. Make sure to dress professionally, smile, and maintain eye contact while speaking with hiring managers and potential coworkers.

Where Can They Work?

Upon receiving a cosmetology license, hopefuls can search for jobs at the following places:

  • Beauty salons
  • Nail care facilities
  • Massage centers
  • Fashion show promoters
  • Magazines, online publications, and advertisers
  • Live entertainment venues and theaters
  • Movie studios
  • Photographers
  • Wedding planners

Can You Work Remotely?

Those who like working from home may find joy in a cosmetology career. Skilled individuals who market themselves properly can set up a home beauty studio in a spare room. Outstanding effort usually leads to word-of-mouth promotion and an increase in profits.

The benefits of being your own boss and setting your own hours are immense. It can allow for parents to work around school schedules and other responsibilities. Just keep in mind that in order to succeed, you will need to be comfortable with customers regularly visiting your home. If this is a concern, and your budget allows, consider renting a small studio or office space.

Do Cosmetologists Have Any Other Options?

Knowledge in cosmetology can lead to a successful tenure as an esthetician. These experts dedicate their careers to cosmetic skincare. They seek to improve dermal appearance, maintain skin vitality, and slow the effects of aging and sun damage. Estheticians perform the following tasks:

  • Apply makeup
  • Remove unwanted hair
  • Steam, wax, and exfoliate skin
  • Cleanse pores
  • Carry out chemical peel procedures
  • Perform salt or sugar scrubs
  • Assist with body wraps

Estheticians do not diagnose or treat skin diseases. Medical professionals like dermatologists are responsible for those types of services.

Alternate Careers for Cosmetologists

There are several alternate career paths available to those with a cosmetology education. Mortuary beauticians prepare embalmed bodies for display at open casket funerals. They apply cosmetics and reconstruct damaged areas of the body to restore a natural appearance. They also groom facial hair, manicure nails, pluck eyebrows, and perform other essential tasks.

If that career seems unappealing, there are several more choices. Become a beauty copywriter to apply your cosmetology knowledge to the creation of advertisements, informative pamphlets, and company websites. Nail technicians specialize in nail health and appearance, while hair colorists focus on the dying and tinting of hair. The choices are vast, so you are sure to find a specialty that suits your skill set.

Career Outlook

Cosmetology skills are in high demand across the nation. People visit cosmetologists for advice and beauty services in almost every American city.

Many people in today’s workforce fear that their jobs could be replaced in the near future by artificial intelligence. Since the work of a cosmetologist requires a human touch, those in this field are at low risk of being replaced by robots.

Hair Stylist Interview

Q&A session with Paula Jennings, a cosmetologist who works in Union, SC at Suns Spa and Hair Salon

Q: What is your job title? Where are you employed?

A: I am a cosmetologist and I work at Suns Spa and Hair Salon.

Q: How long have you been a cosmetologist?

A: I’ve been working in the field for a little over a year now. Before that, I always enjoyed working on my friends’ hair and making them look nice. Then, when I had my first child and she was a girl, I was a little frustrated because she is biracial and I had never dealt with that hair texture before. That’s when it dawned on me that “Hey, I could study hair and make that my career”.

Q: What type of training did you have to become a cosmetologist?

A: I had to go to a special school for cosmetology where I learned about different hair textures, the special issues they have, scalp conditions…and then we got into the more detailed issues of styling and cutting the hair. School lasts about ten months, and then we had to pass a written test in front of a state board and a lab working on someone’s hair.

Q: What do you like best about your job?

A: I’ve always enjoyed meeting new people and I get to do that everyday with this job. It’s always a good feeling when you get repeat customers. It lets you know you do a good job. I also love that I get to be creative everyday and help my clients look their best. A lot of people don’t understand that we’re really doing more than hair. We help people look the way they want to look. Give them confidence.

Q: Describe your typical day on the job.

A: First, I come in and set my supplies out, making sure that everything has been sanitized before a client comes in. Generally, in a typical day, I do several shampoos, cuts, a few rollersets, and colorings. I also do chemical relaxers and perms, and extensions or weaves.

Q: How much do you make as a cosmetologist?

A: How much someone can expect to make with this career varies widely on where you work and what kind of thing you specialize in. Owning your own salon is usually the ultimate goal, and then you charge by the job. If you can do the more complicated things, and do them well, then you can expect to earn even into the six digits. But it does vary widely, I’d say from twenty thousand and up.

Q: What career were you in before becoming a cosmetologist? Do you feel that it helped prepare you for becoming a cosmetologist?

A: I was a correctional officer at a level 2 male state prison. Completely other end of the spectrum there! Essentially, that job only helped in making me appreciate my current career more.

Q: What traits do you feel are necessary to be successful as a cosmetologist?

A: You have to love people and understand that they are always right. You won’t get any repeat clients if you can’t listen to what they need and get it right the first time. Sometimes you get someone who isn’t happy and you just have to do it again or don’t make them pay. A lot of people would say that’s wrong, but it’s the little touches like that that make people want to come back and see you.

Q: Would you recommend this career to someone else?

A: Yes! I love what I do, and to anyone who loves making people look and feel their best; this is a great career move.

Q: What is your next career move, if any?

A: Just to do what I do and try to make my clients as happy as possible. I want them to leave feeling good about the way they look. It makes them what to come back so they can feel that way again and again.

Related Resources

Cosmetology Training in California
Becoming a Cosmetologist in Texas