How to Become a Cosmetologist
Cosmetologist Job Duties
Skills and Qualities of a Cosmetologist
Cosmetologist Salaries
Influential Professional Cosmetologists
Leading Organizations for Cosmetologists
Top Cities for Cosmetologist Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become a Cosmetologist

All states require cosmetologists to be licensed, though licensing requirements vary from state to state. Because of this inconsistency, aspiring cosmetologists should check the laws in the state where they wish to work. Some states only require a high school diploma or GED for cosmetology workers, but most require individuals to graduate from a licensed cosmetology school before qualifying for a license to practice. Full time programs in cosmetology are usually nine months in duration and can lead to an associate's degree. State licensing exams usually include both a written portion and practical demonstration of styling skills. Cosmetologists continue their education in the field through training at salons, schools, or industry trade schools throughout their careers.

What does a Cosmetologist do?

Cosmetologists concentrate services on hair care and improving the personal appearance of their clients. Beauty services provided by cosmetologists include shampooing, cutting, coloring, and styling hair, advice on how to style or care for hair at home, pedicures and manicures, facial treatments, and makeup analysis. In addition to beauty services, cosmetologists keep records of client visits and services received. Those in this field also are becoming increasingly active in selling products to clients for use at home.

Many people in this field put in forty or more hours per week with work schedules that include weekend and evening hours. In 2006 thirty-one percent of cosmetologists worked part time and sixteen percent had variable schedules.

What skills or qualities do I need to become a Cosmetologist?

Successful cosmetologists keep a neat workspace and personal appearance. Since cosmetologists work with clients all day, interpersonal skills and attitude are important factors in advancement. Good health and physical stamina are important because workers in this field are on their feet for most of their work day. Due to the increased importance of client retention and retail sales, salesmanship is becoming an increasingly important skill for those wishing to pursue a career in cosmetology. Knowledgeable cosmetologists also have an understanding of fashion and technical design. Those who are in business for themselves also need to have business skills.

How much do Cosmetologists make?

Accurate earnings calculations for cosmetologists are challenging because they can be paid in a variety of ways including an hourly wage, commission, or booth rental. In addition, skilled cosmetologists can make a large portion of their income in the form of customer tips. Median hourly earnings for 2006 including tips and commissions were $10.25. The middle fifty percent earned between $7.92 and $13.75 per hour. Earnings for entry level workers are fairly low, but cosmetologists with experience can earn considerably more.

The employment outlook for cosmetologists is good. This field is expected to grow slightly faster than average through 2016. Job prospects will be best for those with experience or who are licensed to perform a variety of services.

Who are some influential professionals in this field?

Madam CJ Walker (1867-1919) was the first person in her family to be born free. She was also the first woman, black or white, to become a millionaire by her own accomplishments. Walker first got the idea for her line of hair care products when she began to lose her own hair. She founded the Madam CJ Walker Manufacturing Company to sell hair care products and cosmetics, and by 1917 it had grown to the largest business owned by a black person in the United States. When Walker died, she left two thirds of her estate to educational organizations and charities.

Vidal Sassoon was born in London in 1928. He is one of the fathers of modernism in the beauty industry, relying on dark, short, straight, shiny hair cut into geometric shapes. Sassoon has been a key force in the commercialism of hair styling, turning it into a multi-million dollar industry. After moving to the United States, Sassoon sold his name to a line of hair products put out world-wide by Proctor and Gamble. Sassoon also set up a research center designed to gather information on anti-Semitism in 1982, the Vidal Sassoon International Centre for the Study of Anti-Semitism.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

The National Cosmetology Association (NCA) was founded in 1921 and is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. NCA is the world's largest cosmetology organization with more than 25,000 members. Members of this association enjoy free publications aimed at keeping them abreast of the latest trends, discounted entry to top shows and workshops and, invitations to participate in local, national, and international competitions. In addition, the NCA strives to maintain professionalism in the cosmetology industry and a positive image for clients and the public.

The Professional Beauty Association (PBA) represents the interests of those involved in the beauty industry through business tools and tips, education, government advocacy, and networking. This organization is based out of Scottsdale, Arizona and offers its members an annual symposium, seminars, templates for forms needed to operate a salon, local networking groups, a national listserve, discounts to industry events, and more.

What are the top cities for Cosmetologist jobs?

Cosmetologists are employed all over the United States in all types of salons and barber shops. Currently the top cities for aspiring cosmetologists to find work are in the Midwest. Wichita, Kansas and Arlington, Texas are tied for the most openings. Those who prefer cities a little further to the west should look for work in Phoenix, Arizona or Boise, Idaho. Those who prefer cities to the east will find work in Asbury Park, New Jersey or Long Island, New York.

Other Careers of Interest

Beautician work with clients' personal appearance needs in a variety of specialties. Beauticians generally work in a salon and practice one specialty,...

Hairdresser / Hairstylist / Barber
Hairdressers, hairstylists, and barbers concentrate services on hair care and improving the personal appearance of their clients. Beauty services...

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