The field of cosmetology encompasses several occupations, including hairstylist, hairdresser, shampooer, skin care specialist and nail technician
In order to work as a hairstylist or cosmetologist, one must attend a state-licensed barber or cosmetology school and be at least 16 years old. In some states one must earn a high school or equivalency diploma as well. Training programs in hairstyling and cosmetology last approximately nine to twelve months and may result in earning an associate degree.
All personal appearance workers, including hairstylists, hairdressers and cosmetologists, but not shampooers, must be licensed. Upon completion of a state-approved training program in cosmetology, one usually must take a state-administered licensing exam. There are generally separate exams for manicurists, pedicurists, and skin care specialists.
As hairstylists and cosmetologists become more experienced and gain a following, they can expect their earnings to increase. Some manage salons or decide to open their own. Others become sales representatives or image consultants. Some decide to teach in barber and cosmetology schools.
Overall employment of barbers, cosmetologists, and other personal appearance workers is projected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through 2018, but the amount of growth will vary by specialty. For example, job growth for skin care specialists is projected to be faster, through 2018, than it will be for other occupations requiring post-secondary training or an associate degree (The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Cosmetologists earned a median annual salary of $23,330 ($11.21/hour) in 2009. Wages varied by actual job title.
On a typical day a cosmetologist might perform some of the following duties, depending on his or her specialization:
Cuts, trims and shapes hair or hair pieces
Bleaches, dyes, or tints hair
Combs, brushes, and sprays hair or wigs to set style
Attaches wig or hairpiece to model head and dresses wigs and hairpieces
Massages and treats scalp for hygienic and remedial purposes
Administers therapeutic medication and advises patron to seek medical treatment for chronic or contagious scalp conditions
Recommends and applies cosmetics, lotions, and creams to patron to soften and lubricate skin and enhance and restore natural appearance
Shapes and colors eyebrows or eyelashes and removes facial hair
Cleans, shapes, and polishes fingernails and toenails
Updates and maintains customer information records, such as beauty services provided