Cosmetologists are beauty professionals who can perform services related to skin and nail care, hair styling and makeup application. Employment in this field requires completing a state-approved training program or certificate or associate's degree program in cosmetology, as well as securing a state license.
The field of cosmetology can include hair stylists, barbers and nail technicians. In every state, individuals who practice these professions must be licensed, which requires completing an approved training program and passing a written examination. Many states call for a practical demonstration of skills as well. A licensing fee is charged, and licenses must be renewed on a regular basis.
|Required Education||Training or associate's degree in cosmetology or barbering from a state-approved school|
|Other Requirements||Must be age 16 or older; high school diploma or GED certificate|
|Licensing Requirements||Pass written and, in some states, practical licensing examinations; fee; periodic renewals necessary|
|Job Outlook (2014-2024)*||10% for all hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$23,660 for all hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Cosmetology Program Information
Prospective manicurists, barbers and hairstylists can learn their trade in community and technical college training programs. While both cosmetology certificate and associate degree programs can prepare students to meet state licensing requirements, curricula for 2-year degree programs allow them to take additional general education courses in writing, computer applications and math.
Other coursework provides instruction in hair cutting, coloring and styling. Students also learn how to provide makeup, nail and skin care services, whether by participating in lectures or providing services to clients during clinical practicums.
Additionally, barbering degree programs are available to students who would like to cater to male clients, though these programs are less common. Topics of study unique to these programs might include beard trimming and facial shaving.
There are no voluntary certifications available to barbers, hairstylists and cosmetologists. However, these professionals must meet their state cosmetology board's licensing requirements before finding employment. Qualifications vary by state but usually include the completion of anywhere from 1,000-2,000 clock hours of training in a state-approved cosmetology program. Applicants must also pass written and, in some cases, practical skills exams.
Salary and Job Outlook
Due to a growing population's demand for hair care services, employment opportunities for hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists were projected to increase 10% over the 2014 to 2024 decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Employment of barbers was expected to grow by 10% over the same period. In May 2015, barbers earned a median salary of $24,850, while hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists earned a median salary of $23,660 per year, according to the BLS. Manicurists and pedicurists earned a median wage $20,820 in May 2015, and the BLS predicted job growth of 10% in this field from 2014 to 2024.
Prospective cosmetology professionals can earn a certificate or associate's degree in cosmetology from a community and technical college. Once they have finished training, they can obtain their state license and enter the field as a licensed hairdresser, barber or manicurist. The job outlook for these professionals is expected to be strong from 2014 to 2024.