Cosmetologist Salary

What is a Cosmetologist?

cosmetologist salaryThis is a specialist who is trained in treating the skin, hair, and nails. The cosmetologist may also talk with clients and offer them suggestions in regards to skincare options, the correct application of how to put on cosmetics, flattering hairstyles and the best colors for them. If a cosmetologist has advanced skills they can also offer massages and therapeutic treatments. They may give a client advice on how to take care of her skin, hair, or nails between their visits to the beauty shop.

Job Description of a Cosmetologist

Being a cosmetologist you may have a lot of duties or just a few duties. You may also be involved in general customer care or specialize in a particular area. A cosmetologist can cut hair, add weaves or hairpieces, or style hair. They may also color, frost, condition, or bleach hair. They may also add a tinted rinse to their hair to tone down a bad color through inappropriate applications of treatments for coloring hair at home or from bad color that the client received at another shop.

Other duties that a cosmetologist might perform can include:

  • Meeting with the customer to understand what they need along with making suggestions regarding a new hairstyle, makeup, etc
  • Using scissors, curling irons, clippers, and straightening devices to create the hairstyles that the customer wants.
  • Selling, trimming, shaping, and fitting wigs
  • Make recommendations regarding hairbrushes, cosmetics, and other beauty products that you could also sell to customers.
  • Makes selections of which cosmetics that are right for the client’s skin tone and coloring. They may also apply the cosmetics or teach them how to apply them
  • Trim pluck, shape, and color the eyebrows
  • Removing unwanted facial hair using an electrolysis machine
  • Cut nose hair
  • Selecting, applying, or recommends anti-age lotions and creams.
  • Suggesting moisturizers, exfoliates, and a mask that best suits a client’s need for their skin
  • The cosmetologist may clean the toenails or fingernails, buff and file the nails, treat cuticles, apply artificial nail tips, or apply polish
  • Provide other treatments or soaks like hardeners or conditioners for the nails
  • Shampoo hair
  • Give permanents

Although a cosmetologist is considered an expert cosmetologist they may also be required to share or perform duties such as:

  • Cleaning and care of beauty implements
  • Keeping your work area sterile
  • Answering the phone
  • Booking appointments
  • Doing filing of paperwork
  • Keep records
  • Signing for deliveries
  • Ordering products

If you are a self-employed you will be the one that is responsible for hiring and supervising employees, renting out booth space, and other administrative tasks.

How to Become a Cosmetologist?

Before we discuss how to become a cosmetologist here are some things that you should consider about a school before choosing which one to attend. Choosing the best one can involve many different consideration. For example you need to look at the length of the cosmetology program, the amount of hands-on training, areas of special emphasis that is offered, and the requirements for admission to the program. Some of the best schools will offer assistance in job placement and assistance in passing any licensing exam. You might also want to consider the cleanliness of the college and what the tuition costs. All of these factors can help you determine which cosmetology program/school you are going to enroll in.

Before you make your final decision you should visit the cosmetologists schools that you are considering. Talk to either the admissions clerk or the administrator of the school to find out what the admission requirements are. Ask how long the program will last and a general idea of the overall cost. Ask if you can take a tour of the school and see some of the classrooms, especially the area where hands-on training will take place. You should find out what the hours are and if you have to go full time or if you can go part time. Find out when the next classes start. You should also pay attention to how clean the facilities are and if possible see if you can observe any of the student stylists to see what they are learning when doing hands on training. If you do get to see them take a mental note of they are using good sanitation practices. You also need to find out if they offer specialize training and if yes, what kind, especially if you are thinking about specializing in one area. Go over all your notes and then pick the cosmetology program that best suits your needs.

Although state laws vary, in most states a cosmetologist must be at least sixteen years of age or older and graduated from a state approved cosmetology school. They could also do an apprenticeship along with being licensed. In some states you have to have a high school diploma or its equivalency, a GED. Today’s cosmetology schools provide licensing for full cosmetology covering the three major beauty areas, which are nails, skin, and hair. A student may also have the option to train in only one area. On average a cosmetologist studies for about 12 months before they can receive their license. The licenses are not only acquired for the credibility which they offer but because it is mandated by regional or local government in order for an individual to practice cosmetology. The licenses are required because most cosmetologists practices involve the use of sharp objects, use of chemicals, and hot products necessitate the need for safety training. Most who want to become a licensed cosmetology goes to a school in the region they intended to initially work as a result of licenses being very region-specific. If they wish o work in another country or region they may have to undergo more training not because they are not proficient at their trade but because the requirements change for licensure from region to region.

Before you can become licensed you need to have a degree in cosmetology. The qualifications that are required to become a cosmetologist will vary by location. You do need to get your degree from a state licensed school or training program. In addition, the basic program that is offered to become licensed there are also specialized training programs that exist for those who want to specialize in nail care, hair artistry, and makeup artistry.

Each cosmetology program may differ in terms of curriculum and teaching techniques, almost every degree in cosmetology will provide an overview of basic skin and hair procedures, hair care and cutting, proper techniques for pedicures and manicures, and makeup applications. Some of the cosmetology programs may provide training in marketing and retail sales, and others that providing training in entrepreneurship and business. Being trained in basic math and customer record keeping may be required but it depends on the course of each individual program.

Many trade schools, adult career centers, and community colleges offer licensed programs to train those individuals those that are seeking a cosmetology degree. The programs usually last about 9 months. usually last about 9 months. The highest required education to become a cosmetologist is a 2-year associate degree as this cosmetology is not studied at the PhD level. The associate degree prepares them for an entry level position and in this program they do include business training. To get your associated degree in cosmetology it is offered at some community and technical schools and at private specialized beauty schools. You will train in the classroom and in a simulated beauty salon environment. With the completion of your associate degree you will have either an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) or an Associate of Science (AS) degree. Some programs will also offer an internship opportunity in which the students work weekends and evenings at a salon while still going to school.

To become licensed you will take the state exam administered by the Board of Cosmetology. In many states a licensed cosmetologist must attend seminars and workshops to fulfill their continuing education requirements to have their license renewed, which includes a fee and an application. Some licensed cosmetologist that have just graduated from the cosmetology program will serve as an apprentice to enhance their employment prospects. They will work with a licensed professional for 1 or 2 years. One thing to note is that if you only shampoo hair you will not obtain a state-issued license but that is all they can do. If you specialize in nails, skin, or hair you will take different licensure exams. The process may feature written and oral exams but will depend on the state where they are taken, They may also have to give a practical demonstrations of the cosmetologist’s abilities. Most states mandate that cosmetologist licenses must be renewed every year or two years.

Work Environment and Schedule

Most cosmetologists are employed by beauty salons, work in spas, or are self-employed with their own salons. Working in a spa or beauty shop the environment is relaxing and the areas are cleaned and comfortable. They may also start their own beauty-related business providing door-to-door services. They may also work in a nail salon. Some cosmetologists will work for a funeral home preparing the bodies for viewing. If you work for a funeral home you may be responsible for washing and preparing the body, applying makeup, washing and arranging their hair, dressing them, etc. Some may even be fortunate enough to work in Hollywood working with actresses and actors in television and movies.

When working as a cosmetologist you will need to have lots of physical stamina because you will be on your feet most of your work day, which can be more than 8 hours a day. Which days you work will depend on several things such as if you are working for a beauty shop or renting a station in the beauty shop, or have your own shop. If you are renting a station, which includes a chair, and use of the shampoo area and dryers, you can make your own hours and days you work. As a renter of a station you will have to supply your own supplies and you will also paid rent on the area you are using. If you are working for the beauty shop the owner will most likely make the schedule and will assign you certain days off and what hours you will work. As an owner you will also set your own hours and days worked, Most beauty shops are closed on Sundays and one day during the week, which is one that is slow. They may also work some evening to take care of their customers who work during the day. Whether you are self-employed or renting a booth in a beauty shop overtime is common.

Pros and Cons of Being a Cosmetologist


  • Have the opportunity to become a business owner
  • To become a cosmetologist can take between 9 months and 2 years
  • Many job opportunities
  • Different fields you can specialize in
  • Ability to use your creativity

Cons                `

  • Having to be on your feet during your work day
  • Having to be licensed
  • Low starting salary
  • Having to deal with grumpy customers who complain about anything you do.

Cosmetologist Salary

The pay rate for a cosmetologist will increase with the amount of experience and training they have. According to the BLS the average yearly salary of a cosmetologist was $27,940 in 2014. Most cosmetologist are paid a regular salary or an hourly wage. In addition a cosmetologist may receive tips for good work, and commissions on cosmetic products sold and extra services you get a client to have done. Usually as a cosmetologist working in a beauty shop or a day spa your wages are generally figured by totaling all you earn in product sales, services, and tips., and then your booth rental, supplies and product stock you use are deducted. Your salary can also be determined by other factors like if you have an area of specialty, experience, and extra income from commissions and tips.

Basically a large part of a cosmetologist salary is based on commissions, overtime, and tips. The highest paying industry is working in the motion picture and video industry with an average annual salary of $70,000. If you work in the personal care industry your average annual salary is between $26,000 and $50,000. The salary of a cosmetologist is also influenced by geographic area where they are working because certain geographical areas have more of a demand for a cosmetologists services. A cosmetologist with less than 12 months experience has an average hourly salary of $10.08 but one with 1-5 years of experience can expect an average hourly rate of up to $14.74.

In addition to the salary there is also the bonus package. If you are self-employed you will be providing benefits to any employees you have. For the ones that rent a booth, their bonus package consists of commissions on products or services sold. What is included in the bonus package will vary according to where you work and if you are an employee or rent a booth. The bonus package could include paid vacation and sick days, health and life insurance, paid holidays, retirement benefits, maybe 401k, semi or annual bonuses, partial payment for continuing education courses, paying the license fee when it is renewed, and more.

In 2016, if you were a hair stylist the average hourly wage was $8.00 and a manicurist or pedicurist the average hourly wage was $12.00.

Cosmetologist Salary in Canada, Australia and UK

Canada—cosmetologists in Canada have an average yearly salary from C$23,920-C$31,713.

Australia—cosmetologists here makes an average annual salary of AU$23,243-AU$47,799.

The United Kingdom—cosmetologists, also called a beautician, receives an average annual income from £10,353- £17,430. If you have 1-4 years of experience your average yearly take home pay is £8,750-£13,481.

Conclusion on Cosmetologist Salary

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) between the years of 2012-2022 the growth rate is expected to increase by 13%. This growth can be attributed to a rising population with increasing demands for various cosmetology services. Being a cosmetologist you will be helping others increase their self-confidence and self-esteem. It is a great career for one that loves to make people beautiful and working in beauty care services. The drawback is that the entry-level salary is low when you compare it to other industries. The good news is that they can increase their salary by getting a specialization or another one if you already have one specialization. There is always the room for advancement and it is possible for you to own your own business and rent out booths.