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Working as a Cosmetologist

The pervasiveness of automation in repetitive tasks across industries, like manufacturing and retail, are consequently shifting the perception of skill value that contributes to society. Although this has caused some level of economic uncertainty, human activity on the other hand, has been freed to explore a more creative dimension. One job that is gaining popularity in the creative field is the role of a cosmetologist.

Daily, a cosmetologist is involved in providing beauty care services, focusing on hair, skin, and nails. This includes tasks such as shampooing, styling, cutting, bleaching, coloring, and providing wigs or hairpieces. Besides that, they provide services such as skin care treatments, facial hair trimming, eyebrow shaping, nail polishing, and demonstrating makeup applications.

Employers require cosmetologists to have either formal training in at least one field of beauty services and demonstrate at least one to two years of work experience. This role earns, on average, $18 per hour and suits individuals who have a knack for styling.

What Does a Cosmetologist Do

Barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists provide haircutting, hairstyling, and a range of other beauty services.

Duties

Barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists typically do the following:

  • Inspect and analyze hair, skin, and scalp to recommend treatment
  • Discuss hairstyle options
  • Wash, color, lighten, and condition hair
  • Chemically change hair textures
  • Cut, dry, and style hair
  • Receive payments from clients
  • Clean and disinfect all tools and work areas

Barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists provide hair and beauty services to enhance clients’ appearance. Those who operate their own barbershop or salon have managerial duties that may include hiring, supervising, and firing workers, as well as keeping business and inventory records, ordering supplies, and arranging for advertising.

Barbers cut, trim, shampoo, and style hair, mostly for male clients. They also may fit hairpieces, perform facials, and offer facial shaving. Depending on the state in which they work, some barbers are licensed to color, bleach, and highlight hair and to offer permanent-wave services. Common tools include combs, scissors, straight razors, and clippers.

Hairdressers, or hairstylists, offer a wide range of hair services, such as shampooing, cutting, coloring, and styling. They often advise clients, both male and female, on how to care for their hair at home. They also keep records of products and services provided to clients, such as hair color, shampoo, conditioner, and hair treatment used. Tools include hairbrushes, scissors, blow dryers, and curling irons.

Cosmetologists provide scalp and facial treatments and makeup analysis. Some also clean and style wigs and hairpieces. In addition, most cosmetologists actively recommend professional hair care products or salon hair care products.

How To Become a Cosmetologist

All states require barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists to be licensed. To qualify for a license, candidates are required to graduate from a state-approved cosmetology program.

Education

A high school diploma or equivalent is required for some positions. In addition, every state requires that barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists complete a program in a state-licensed barber or cosmetology school. Programs in hairstyling, skin care, and other personal appearance services are available in postsecondary vocational schools.

Full-time programs in barbering and cosmetology usually last at least 9 months and may lead to an associate’s degree. Most of these workers take advanced courses in hairstyling or in other personal appearance services to keep up with the latest trends. Those who want to open their own business also may take courses in sales and marketing.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists must obtain a license in order to work. Qualifications for a license vary by state, but generally, a person must fulfill the following criteria:

  • Reached a minimum age of 16
  • Received a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Graduated from a state-licensed barber or cosmetology school

After graduating from a state-approved training program, students take a state licensing exam that includes a written test and, in some cases, a practical test of styling skills or an oral exam.

In many states, cosmetology training may be credited toward a barbering license and vice versa, and a few states combine the two licenses. A fee usually is required to apply for a license, and periodic renewals may be necessary.

Some states have reciprocity agreements that allow licensed barbers and cosmetologists to get a license in another state without needing additional formal training or state board testing, but such agreements are not common. Consequently, people who want to work in a particular state should review the laws of that state before entering a training program.

Important Qualities

Creativity. Barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists must keep up with the latest trends and be ready to try new hairstyles for their clients.

Customer-service skills. Workers must be pleasant, friendly, and able to interact with customers in order to retain clients.

Listening skills. Barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists should be good listeners. They must listen carefully to what the client wants in order to make sure that the client is happy with the result.

Physical stamina. Barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists must be able to stand on their feet for long periods.

Tidiness. Workers must keep a neat personal appearance and keep their work area clean and sanitary. This requirement is necessary for the health and safety of their clients and for making clients comfortable enough so that they will want to return. 

Time-management skills. Time-management skills are important in scheduling appointments and providing services. For example, routine haircuts do not require the precise timing of some other services, such as applying neutralizer after a permanent wave. Clients who receive timely hair care are more likely to return.

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Average Salary$33,445
Job Growth Rate8%

Cosmetologist Career Paths

Top Careers Before Cosmetologist

Cashier
15.6 %

Top Careers After Cosmetologist

Cashier
10.4 %

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Average Salary for a Cosmetologist

Cosmetologists in America make an average salary of $33,445 per year or $16 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $46,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $24,000 per year.
Average Salary
$33,445

Best Paying Cities

City
Average Salary
Urban Honolulu, HI
Salary Range32k - 43k$37k$37,182
Madison, WI
Salary Range29k - 44k$36k$36,344
Lakewood, CO
Salary Range29k - 42k$35k$35,231
New York, NY
Salary Range26k - 43k$34k$33,720
Peoria, AZ
Salary Range25k - 38k$31k$31,329
Niles, IL
Salary Range24k - 38k$31k$31,164
$22k
$44k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyCompanyStart DateSalary
Barber/Cosmetologist
Barber/Cosmetologist
Wisconsin Government
Wisconsin Government
11/20/2020
11/20/2020
$31,30511/20/2020
$31,305
Barber/Cosmetologist-Fitzsimons Veterans Community Living Center
Barber/Cosmetologist-Fitzsimons Veterans Community Living Center
Colorado State
Colorado State
10/29/2020
10/29/2020
$26,86010/29/2020
$26,860
Cosmetologist
Cosmetologist
Bluegreen Resorts
Bluegreen Resorts
10/14/2020
10/14/2020
$41,74010/14/2020
$41,740
Cosmetologist
Cosmetologist
Knockouts Haircuts for Men
Knockouts Haircuts for Men
08/27/2020
08/27/2020
$27,60008/27/2020
$27,600
Cosmetologist
Cosmetologist
Knockouts Haircuts for Men
Knockouts Haircuts for Men
08/27/2020
08/27/2020
$27,60008/27/2020
$27,600
See More Recent Salaries

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Cosmetologist Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a Cosmetologist. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

Learn How To Write a Cosmetologist Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Cosmetologist resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View Detailed Information

Cosmetologist Demographics

Gender

female

85.9 %

male

10.2 %

unknown

4.0 %

Ethnicity

White

67.1 %

Black or African American

12.2 %

Hispanic or Latino

12.2 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

72.4 %

French

6.6 %

Vietnamese

3.7 %
See More Demographics

Cosmetologist Education

Majors

Nursing
4.6 %

Degrees

License

22.2 %

Associate

21.2 %

High School Diploma

15.5 %
Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Top Skills For a Cosmetologist

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 17.4% of cosmetologists listed customer service on their resume, but soft skills such as listening skills and physical stamina are important as well.

  • Customer Service, 17.4%
  • Retail Sales, 13.9%
  • Hair Care, 8.2%
  • Spa Services, 8.0%
  • Scheduling Appointments, 7.1%
  • Other Skills, 45.4%
  • See All Cosmetologist Skills

Best States For a Cosmetologist

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a cosmetologist. The best states for people in this position are Maine, Washington, Idaho, and New Jersey. Cosmetologists make the most in Maine with an average salary of $42,230. Whereas in Washington and Idaho, they would average $41,784 and $41,199, respectively. While cosmetologists would only make an average of $39,544 in New Jersey, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Idaho

Total Cosmetologist Jobs:
47
Highest 10% Earn:
$53,000
Location Quotient:
1.14
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. New Jersey

Total Cosmetologist Jobs:
459
Highest 10% Earn:
$63,000
Location Quotient:
1.4
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Wisconsin

Total Cosmetologist Jobs:
276
Highest 10% Earn:
$53,000
Location Quotient:
1.36
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Top Cosmetologist Employers

1. Great Clips
3.8
Avg. Salary: 
$36,410
Cosmetologists Hired: 
739+
2. Regis
3.9
Avg. Salary: 
$36,652
Cosmetologists Hired: 
565+
3. J. C. Penney
4.2
Avg. Salary: 
$40,597
Cosmetologists Hired: 
398+
4. Creative Hairdressers
3.7
Avg. Salary: 
$36,205
Cosmetologists Hired: 
178+
5. Ulta Beauty
4.8
Avg. Salary: 
$33,666
Cosmetologists Hired: 
89+
6. Empire Beauty School
3.5
Avg. Salary: 
$36,279
Cosmetologists Hired: 
35+

Cosmetologist Videos

Updated October 2, 2020