Career Info for a Degree in Cosmetology

Jan 16, 2020

Cosmetology is generally offered as a vocational program with hands-on training. Let's take a look at an overview of cosmetology programs as well as career and salary info for some career options for graduates.

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  • 0:01 Training and Careers…
  • 1:06 Hair Stylists and…
  • 2:16 Barbers
  • 2:49 Manicurists and Pedicurists

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Training and Careers in Cosmetology

Career Title Hair Stylists and Cosmetologists Barbers Manicurists and Pedicurists
Education Requirements High school diploma and completion of cosmetology school High school diploma and completion of barber college Completion of cosmetology or nail technician program
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 8% 7% 10%
Average Salary (2018)* $14.51 per hour $15.97 per hour $12.43 per hour

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Cosmetology programs prepare students to work as barbers, hair stylists, and manicurists among other similar personal care jobs. These professionals offer their services to help clients look their best. Cosmetology licensing is required in most states, and the licensing requirements vary. But, most states require 1500 or more hours in a cosmetology program, often leading to a certificate in a field of cosmetology and passage of a licensing exam. Some people go on to earn associate's degrees in cosmetology for more advanced, specialized training.

After earning your certificate or degree in cosmetology, you might gain employment with a salon or spa. Many people in this field become self-employed and lease spaces from salon owners. You could even go on to own your own business. Keep in mind that a degree is especially useful for those who want to own their own salons, as these programs typically offer additional training in business and leadership.

Now, let's take a look at some of the career info for jobs in the personal care field.

Hair Stylists and Cosmetologists

Hair stylists perform many duties to make their clients' hair look great, such as cutting hair, dying hair, and creating hairdos. They tend to work in salons and spas along side cosmetologists. Note that while cosmetology is often used as a broad term referring to the personal care industry, cosmetologist is its own role in the industry. Cosmetologists provide facial and scalp treatments and remove unwanted facial hair. Some may also conduct beauty analyses and recommend makeup and hair products that will best suit their clients.

Hairstylists and cosmetologists are expected to see promising job growth in the coming years. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs were projected to increase faster than the national average at 8% from 2018-2028. The amount you can earn in this position often relies heavily on your client base and client satisfaction, as tips play a big role in salary. The BLS reports that the average wage for hair stylists and cosmetologists was $14.51 per hour as of May 2018.


Much like hairstylists, barbers cut and style hair, but they generally work in barbershops and have male clients. They might also dye hair, give facials, and shave clients' faces. The job outlook for barbers is similar to that of hairstylists and cosmetologists. As the BLS reports, jobs were expected to increase 7% from 2018-2028, which is faster than average. Salary is also comparable; the average wage for barbers was $15.97 as of May 2018.

Manicurists and Pedicurists

Manicurists are nail professionals who clean, shape, and buff customers' nails, and they may also add nail extensions for clients. Some nail professionals focus on the feet. These are called pedicurists, and they clean, shape, and buff customers' toenails. These professionals generally work in nail salons and spas, and they can also massage hands and feet, remove dead skin cells, and apply nail polish.

There's expected to be ample job opportunities in the coming years for manicurists ad pedicurists, as the BLS reports job are expected increase 10% from 2018-2028, which is faster than average. What do manicurist and pedicurists earn? The average wage was $12.43 per hour as of May 2018.

With state-approved post-secondary cosmetology training and licensing, you can become a hairstylist, cosmetologist, barber, manicurist, or pedicurist. Job outlook is positive in these fields, with faster-than-average projected job growth in the coming years.

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