Cosmetology Job Description
Cosmetologists provide hair care services designed to enhance the appearance of a customer. They shampoo, cut, color, and style hair and may give advice regarding how to carry out proper hair care at home. Some cosmetologists are trained to provide pedicures, manicures, makeup analysis, hair removal, facial and scalp treatments, and the cleaning and styling of hairpieces and wigs. Work takes place in hair salons and it is common for self-employed cosmetologists to work longer than a 40-hour week.
Cosmetology Salary Statistics
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a May 2010 mean annual wage of $26,510 for hairstylists, hairdressers, and cosmetologists. The lowest ten percent of wage earners in these careers were paid $16,350 annually, the middle 50 percent had an annual wage of $22,760, and the highest ten percent earned $41,540 per year. Cosmetologists in the District of Columbia earned the highest annual mean wage in May 2010, which was $37,680. Hawaii, Washington, Vermont, and South Carolina were included in the top five states in terms of pay.
As expected, the industry with the highest employment level was personal care services. Department stores came in a distant second and personal care and health stores, employment services, and nursing care facilities completed the top five. The top paying industry by a slight margin was the wholesale electronic market, broker, and agent. With an annual mean wage of $32,360, the death care services industry was second.
Cosmetology Job Outlook
2008 – 2018 Projected Employment Changes 165,500 new Cosmetology jobs 20% increase in employment
The overall employment level of cosmetologists is anticipated to grow much faster than the average for other occupations, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics. From 2008 to 2018, growth in the personal appearance worker sector is expected to be 20 percent. Entry-level workers will find favorable job opportunities, but those desiring a job at a high-end establishment will face stiff competition. Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, California, and Florida had the highest employment levels in this field as of May 2010.
Cosmetology Education & Training
Some states require that cosmetologists have a high school diploma or a GED. In an O*Net occupational survey, six percent of cosmetologist respondents had a high school diploma or equivalent and 94 percent had taken some college courses but did not have a college degree. Full-time cosmetology programs are offered by high schools as well as private and public postsecondary vocational schools. These usually run for at least nine months and sometimes lead to an associate’s degree.
To stay current with trends, many cosmetologists take advanced hairstyling or personal appearance courses. Some also study marketing and sales. Every state requires that a cosmetologist be licensed. Licensing qualifications vary by state but generally require a high school diploma or GED, graduation from a cosmetology school licensed by the state, payment of a fee, and being at least 16 years old. The licensing exam is comprised of a written test and may also include an oral exam or a practical test regarding styling skills. Some states consider barber training toward a cosmetology license and vice versa and others combine these two licenses. Periodic renewal of a license may be required and some states offer reciprocity agreements with other states.
Occupations related to a cosmetology career include fitness worker, massage therapist, and theatrical and performance makeup artist. Fitness workers motivate, instruct, and lead individuals or groups in various exercise activities. Massage therapists manipulate soft tissue muscles within the body with the use of touch. They may specialize in more than 80 types of massage and deliver a treatment that lasts between five minutes and two hours. Theatrical and performance makeup artists enhance the appearance of an individual performing for television, stage, or movies via the application of makeup.