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6 Career Paths to Take in Cosmetology

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In today’s day and age, there has never been a better time to become part of the beauty industry. With an estimated nearly one million people employed in primary service areas of the beauty industry, and a combined market value of 552 billion dollars, the beauty and cosmetics industry is without a doubt absolutely booming. For those with an interest in becoming part of the billion-dollar, flourishing cosmetology industry, there is a large variety of different career paths in the field. The cosmetology field is diverse, and is much more than just makeup and hair. Here we’ll give you an inside look at 6 of the many career paths you can take in the cosmetology field.

What is Cosmetology?

Like we said before, cosmetology is diverse. There’s a lot more to cosmetology than the hairstylists and makeup artists that typically come to mind when thinking about cosmetology. Cosmetology is the application of beauty techniques for the face, hair and skin. It also includes the application of techniques such as client management, maintenance, and environment safety.

Cosmetology Education

Cosmetology programs are typically found at community colleges or beauty schools. Cosmetology programs encompass a large range of topics, including basic safety and sanitation, nail care, hair removal and aesthetics, hair care and styling, skin care and skin science, and salon and money management. Some programs may offer additional courses like teacher training, laser training, esthetics and fashion design.

Cosmetology programs are a necessary step to prepare future cosmetologists for licensing exams as all cosmetologists are required to be licensed. Licensing requirements and laws vary by state, so it’s important to research your state’s requirements. For more information about cosmetology licensing and state requirements, click here!

Think you’re ready to find a cosmetology program but don’t know where to start? Make sure to look at College Overview’s College Search Engine for a comprehensive list of cosmetology programs and beauty schools. You can even narrow your search by state, school type, program type and degree.

Career Paths After Cosmetology School

Becoming educated in cosmetology can lead to so many different careers! Let’s take a look at 6 career paths that can be taken after cosmetology school.

Cosmetologist

Cosmetologist

Of course, after completing a cosmetology program, working as a cosmetologist is a career possibility!

What They Do

Cosmetologists apply beauty techniques to clients in the form of hair, skin and nail treatments. Cosmetologists may also provide specialized services like hair removal and waxing, facials, makeup application, wig care, perms and scalp treatments. Cosmetologists may also offer nail care services like manicures and pedicures. Those who may operate their own salons or facilities are also responsible for tasks like money management, advertising, and hiring and supervising.

Work Environment

Cosmetologists work indoors and are fortunate to typically work in environments that have good lighting and the presence of other people. They may work in their own salon or barber shop, rent a space from a salon, or work in other areas like hotels, spas and malls. Those aspiring to become cosmetologists need to be prepared to work long periods of time on their feet, and also need to be prepared to work around various chemicals.

Salaries

A lot of cosmetologists are self-employed, so salaries may vary. However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median pay for cosmetologists is about $12.33 per hour as of May 2017. This equates to about $26,000 per year. Cosmetologists may also receive tips on top of their salaries or hourly earnings, which can add to their take home pay.

Job Outlook

With the popularity of the beauty industry combined with an ever-growing population, cosmetologists have great job prospects. Employment of cosmetologists is expected to grow about 13% from 2016 to 2026, which is 6% higher than all occupations. It’s safe to say that there’s an awesome job market for cosmetologists!

Esthetician

Esthetician

Becoming an esthetician is another great career path in the cosmetology field. Estheticians are the masters of skincare, and are sometimes referred to as skin care specialists.

What They Do

Estheticians are professionals that focus almost solely on skin care. Estheticians will closely analyze and evaluate the conditions of clients’ skin, determine which treatments will best benefit the client, and then perform the desired or necessary treatments techniques. On a day-to-day basis, estheticians may perform duties such as performing microdermabrasion, performing facials, giving facial massages, remove unwanted facial hair, and educate clients on skin care techniques.

Work Environment

Estheticians work in environments similar to those of cosmetologists. They primarily work indoors and can work at a variety of facilities like salons and health spas. They may also work in medical settings, like Dermatologists offices. Dermatologists can expect to work primarily while standing on their feet, and also around various chemicals.

Salaries

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Estheticians made a median hourly wage of $14.46 as of 2017. The highest 10% of earners made more than $28.27 hourly, while the lowest 10% of earners made $8.97 or less per hour. The highest earning estheticians are typically found in the offices of physicians or in medical settings.

Job Outlook

Estheticians have an awesome job outlook. Between 2016 and 2026, the employment of estheticians is expected to grow about 14%, which is double the rate of all occupations.

Hair Stylist or Barber

Barber

Hair stylists and barbers are thought of a lot of the time when discussing cosmetology. Becoming a hair stylist or barber is another popular career path to go into in the field of cosmetology!

What They Do

Although they do have their differences, hair stylists and barbers have some of the same job duties. These duties include inspecting and analyzing hair to recommend treatment, discussing and suggesting hairstyle options, chemically changing hair textures or colors, cutting, drying and styling hair, and taking payment from clients for services.

In addition to the above duties, barbers may also fit hair pieces, perform facial shaving, and fit hair pieces. Hair stylists may work with hair extensions and hair pieces as well, in addition to advising clients how to care for their hair at home.

Work Environment

Barbers and hair stylists work indoors, primarily in salons and barbershops. They may also work in hotels or spas. Like cosmetologists and estheticians, barbers and hair stylists work primarily on their feet and with various chemicals.

Salaries

The pay for barbers and hair stylists is the same of cosmetologists. Salaries may vary due to tips and most barbers and hair stylists being self-employed. As a baseline, barbers and hair stylists made a median hourly wage of $12.33. The lowest 10 percent of earners took home about $8.95 per hour, while the highest 10 percent of earners made about $23.31 per hour.

Job Outlook

Job outlook for barbers and hair stylists is also the same as that of cosmetologists. Job prospects for hair stylists and barbers is expected to grow at a rate of 13% between 2016 and 2026, making it almost double of the rate for all careers! With the expansion and flourishing of the beauty industry, coupled with an increasing population, the chance of getting a stable job as a barber or hair stylist is only going up!

Nail Artists - Manicurists and Pedicurists

Nail Artist

In a world that continues to put a huge emphasis on beauty, of course becoming a manicurist or pedicurist is a career path for those interested in cosmetology!

What They Do

Nail artists, sometimes called manicurists and pedicurists, are professionals that exclusively work with the hands and feet. Typical duties of nail artists are discussing nail treatments and services with clients, removing nail polish or acrylic nails, trimming and filing nails, polishing and buffing nails, massaging hands and feet, and cleaning and sterilizing equipment. Additionally, if a nail artist owns a salon, they are responsible for business duties like ordering supplies, keeping adequate records, and managing funds.

Work Environment

Nail artists work in clean, sterile indoor environments that typically have good lighting; these environments are usually in nail salons, hair salons, or spas. Unlike a lot of cosmetology professions, nail artists’ jobs involve sitting for most of the day in order to work on clients’ hands and feet. However, like most careers in the field of cosmetology, nail artists work with a lot of various chemicals.

Salaries

As of May 2017, the median hourly wage for nail artists was about $11.17. The highest earning nail technicians brought in about $15.89 per hour, while the lowest earning nail technicians made about $9.37 hourly. Nail artists can also typically expect to receive tips in addition to hourly wages.

Job Outlook

As with many careers in cosmetology, nail artists, manicurists and pedicurists can also expect great job prospects. We weren’t lying when we said the beauty industry is booming! Jobs for nail artists are expected to grow 13% by 2026.

Cosmetology School Instructor

Cosmetology Instructor

Becoming a school instructor in the field of cosmetology is a promising career path for many!

What They Do

Cosmetology or beauty school instructors have a lot of important duties that come along with the job title. Cosmetology instructors are responsible for safely and properly educating students so they can pass licensing exams and certifications. In order to do this, school instructors are responsible for duties like lesson planning, active, hands-on instruction of lessons, keeping student records and complying with standards for equipment, licensing, and the building.

Work Environment

Like most careers in the cosmetology field, school instructors work indoors and spend a lot of time on their feet. They also work around various kinds of chemicals. Additionally, school instructors may spend some of their time in an office setting in order to keep track of records and paperwork.

Salaries

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for career and technical education teachers like cosmetology school instructors was $52,240 as of 2017. This is above the median annual wage for all occupations, and is more than most cosmetology careers we’ve outlined so far.

Job Outlook

The job prospects for career and technical teachers like cosmetology instructors is currently projected to grow at a rate of 4% from 2016 to 2026. This is lower than the national average of about 7%, but since the growth of the beauty industry is still progressing rapidly, we can still expect there will be a demand for cosmetology school instructors.

Makeup Artist

Makeup Artist

Becoming a makeup artist is another popular career path in the cosmetology field.

What They Do

The job’ duties of makeup artists vary, as they can be found in different industries. Some makeup artists may work in fashion, entertainment, theater, and of course cosmetic service; additionally, they make work alone or as part of a team. At the core of most makeup artists’ job duties, they can be known to buy and sell cosmetics, apply cosmetics to the face and surrounding areas for beauty or cosmetic purposes. They may also style hair or perform techniques like facials and extractions.

Work Environment

Since makeup artists have varying jobs and job duties, their work environment may vary as well. Generally, aspiring makeup artists can expect to work indoors and be on their feet for long periods of time. Depending on the job, some makeup artists may work outside in different conditions.

Salaries

As of 2015, the median hourly wage for makeup artists was calculated at about $25.59 per hour. Salaries of makeup artists may vary due to the job type, duration, and if the makeup artist receives any tips.

Job Outlook

The projected job growth for makeup artists is outstanding - it’s projected to grow at a rate of about 19%! This is much higher than all occupations and most, if not all cosmetology careers.

Ready for a Career in Cosmetology?

If you’re ready to join the million others who have chosen a career in the booming, billion dollar cosmetology industry, remember to consider these 6 career paths:

  • Cosmetologist
  • Esthetician
  • Hair Stylist or Barber
  • Nail Artist
  • Cosmetology School Instructor
  • Makeup Artist

Don’t forget to visit College Overview’s college search engine to research and compare cosmetology schools and programs in your desired location!