National Avg. Salary

$28,770 More Salary Data →

Job Growth Rate

9.8% More Growth Data →

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Cosmetologists are beauty specialists that are capable of performing a variety of roles. Cosmetologists may work as hair stylists, nail technicians, barbers, or makeup artists, or they may work in spas and provide massages, facials, or laser hair removal. Usually, cosmetologists focus on one of these areas.

Checkmark What is a Cosmetologist?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in cosmetologist roles:

  • Wash, cut, color, perm, and style hair for men, women, and children
  • Perform manicures and pedicures
  • Perform spa services like facials, massages, and laser hair removal
  • Apply makeup and recommend colors and products that enhance natural beauty
  • Recommend and sell hair care, nail care, and skin care products

A Day in the Life

Almost all beauty-related careers require completion of cosmetology school, so cosmetologists are individuals who have been educated in a variety of beauty processes and techniques. Many cosmetologists move into hair styling after graduation, but cosmetologists are not limited to working as hair stylists or barbers. With a degree from a cosmetology school, cosmetologists can qualify to work as nail technicians, makeup artists, hair stylists, and barbers, and they may also provide spa services.

While the basics of all of these techniques are taught in most cosmetology schools, aspiring cosmetologists usually choose an area of focus for their studies and later career. A cosmetologist’s area of focus dictates when he/she will do on a day-to-day basis. Nail technicians clean, cut, file, and polish fingernails and toenails; hair stylists wash, cut, color, perm, and style hair; and makeup artists apply makeup and help individuals choose colors and types of makeup that enhance their natural beauty.

Some cosmetologists also work in spas. Along with their cosmetology training, they choose to study massage therapy, skin care and therapies, and laser hair removal processes. These cosmetologists perform a variety of services as spas, such as massages, facials, microdermabrasion, laser hair removal, blackhead extraction, and many more. In large spas, cosmetologists may rotate to provide a variety of services, filling in or stylists, manicurists, and facial technicians as needed to service customers.

Typical Work Schedule

Most cosmetologists work full-time schedules, though part-time work is commonly available as well. Cosmetologists may work during the day during the workweek, but they’re more often needed to work second shift and weekends when salons and spas see the most customers.

Projected Job Growth

Personal beauty care has been steadily rising in popularity in recent years, so demand for cosmetologists is expected to grow throughout the coming decade.

Cosmetologist Specializations

  • Hair stylists wash, cut, trim, color, perm, and style hair for women, men, and children.
  • Barbers wash, cut, trim, color, and style hair for male clientele, and also trim and shape beards.
  • Makeup artists apply makeup to clients and help client choose products and colors that enhance their natural beauty.
  • Nail technicians perform manicures and pedicures.
  • Spa technicians provide massage therapy, facials, and specialized services like microdermabrasion and laser hair removal.

Typical Employers

Cosmetologists are commonly hired to work in hair and nail salons, for department stores, and for spas. Some are also self-employed and rent space in salons, run their own salons, or take on clients on a freelance basis.

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Clipboard How To Become a Cosmetologist

All states require cosmetologists to be licensed to work in their field. To become a licensed cosmetologist, you must attend cosmetology school after graduating from high school. Cosmetology schools are vocational institutions that teach students the techniques and best practices of hair styling, manicures and pedicures, makeup application, and skin care. After graduating from cosmetology school, you’ll be able to become licensed and begin working as a cosmetologist in your state of residence.

While in cosmetology school, you’ll want to focus your coursework in the specialization you hope to work in during your career. While you’ll certainly take general education courses in all of the cosmetology disciplines, you’ll want to focus your electives on a specific discipline. Aspiring hairdressers will want to focus their coursework on hair cutting, styling, and treatments, and aspiring nail technicians will want to focus their coursework on manicures, pedicures, and applying artificial nails.

After graduating, most cosmetologists start off working as an employee for a salon or spa. After gaining professional experience and building your client base, you may be able to move into self-employment, renting a booth at a hair or nail salon. Eventually, you may have enough clients to start your own cosmetology business. Some cosmetologists open their own salons or spas, some offer their services out of their own homes, and some offer mobile cosmetology services, traveling to client’s houses for appointments.

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Quick Summary

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Wallet Cosmetologist Salary Data

We've provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Annual Salary

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Average Average


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National Hourly Wage

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Average Average


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How do Cosmetologist salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Cosmetologist's can make an average annual salary of $28,770, or $14 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make $19,150 or $9 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #720 Nationally for All Careers

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Graduation Cap Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming a Cosmetologist. an Associate's is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Chart Highest Education Among Cosmetologist

  • 0.3%   Doctorate
  • 0.6%   Masters
  • 5.2%   Bachelors
  • 10.1%   Associates
  • 31.5%   College
  • 45.5%   High School
  • 6.7%   Less than High School

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Chart Up Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Cosmetologist job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 58,400 jobs for a total of 655,600 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 9.8% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #207 Nationally for All Careers

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Employee What Companies Employ The Most Cosmetologists

IndustryCurrent JobsNew Jobs Needed% Increase
Personal care services 314,700 33,500 34%
Self-employed workers 253,600 25,600 26%
Nursing care facilities (skilled nursing facilities) 1,100 100 0%

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