Careers And Clients

Cosmetology Profession

Hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists offer a wide range of beauty services, such as shampooing, cutting, coloring, and styling of hair. They may advise clients on how to take care of their hair at home in addition, cosmetologist may be trained to give manicures, pedicures, and scalp and facial treatments; provide make up analysis; and clean and style with hairpieces.

A number of workers offer specialized services. Manicurists and pedicurists, called nail technicians in some states, work exclusively on nails and provide manicures, pedicures, polishing, and nail extensions to clients. Another group of specialists is skin-care specialists or estheticians who cleanse and beautify the skin by giving facials, full body treatments and head and neck massages as well as applying makeup. They may remove hair through waxing or, if properly trained, with laser treatments. Finally, in larger salons, shampooers specialize in shampooing and conditioning hair.

In addition to working with clients, personal-appearance workers may keep records of hair color or skin-care regimens used by their regular clients. A growing number actively sell hair, skin, and nail care products. Barbers, cosmetologists, and other personal appearance workers who operate their own salons hire employees and are responsible for keeping business and inventory records or ordering supplies and advertising.

Work Environment

Many full-time barbers, cosmetologists and other personal-appearance workers put in 40-hour weeks, although longer hours are common, especially among self-employed workers. Work schedules may include evenings and weekends the time when beauty salons and barbershops are busiest. Many workers, especially those who are self-employed, determine their own schedules. In 2014 about 29 percent of barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists worked part time and 14 percent had variable schedules. Barbers, cosmetologists, and other personal-appearance workers usually work in clean, pleasant surroundings with good lighting and ventilation. Most work in a salon or barbershop although some may work in a spa, hotel, or resort. Good health and stamina are important because these workers are on their feet for most of their shift. Prolonged exposure to some hair and nail chemicals may cause irritations, so protective clothing such as plastic gloves or aprons must be worn.


Successful personal-appearance workers should have an understanding of fashion, art, and technical design. They also must keep a neat personal appearance and a clean work area. Interpersonal skills, image and attitude play an important role in career success. As client retention and retail sales become an increasingly important part of salons’ revenue, the ability to be an effective salesperson becomes ever more vital for salon workers. Some cosmetology schools consider ”people skills” to be such an integral part of the job that they require coursework in that area. Business skills are important for those who plan to operate their own salons.


Advancement usually takes the form of higher earnings, as barbers and cosmetologists gain experience and build a steady client. Some barbers and cosmetologists manage salons, lease booth space in salons, or open their own salons after several years of experience. Others teach in barber or cosmetology schools or provide training through vocational schools. Still others advance to other related occupations, such as sales representatives for companies that sell salon-related products, image or fashion consultants, or examiners for state licensing boards.


Barbers, cosmetologists, and other personal-appearance workers held about 821,900 jobs in 2008. Of these, barbers and cosmetologists held 684,200 jobs, manicurists and pedicurists 76,000, skin- care specialists 38,800, and shampooers 22,900.

Most of these workers are employed in personal-care-services establishments, such as beauty salons, barber shops, nail salons and resort spas. Others were employed in nursing and other residential-care homes. Nearly every town has a barbershop or beauty salon, but employment in this occupation is concentrated in the most populous cities and states. About 44 percent of all barbers, cosmetologists and other personal-appearance workers are self-employed. Many of these workers own their own salons, but a growing number of the self-employed lease booth space or a chair from the salon’s owner. In this case workers provide their own supplies, and are responsible for paying their own taxes and benefits. They may pay a monthly or weekly fee to the salon owner, who is responsible for utilities and maintenance of the building.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of barbers, cosmetologists and other personal-appearance workers is projected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations. Opportunities for entry-level workers should be favorable, while job candidates at high-end establishments will face keen competition. Demand for personal-appearance workers will grow by 20 percent from 2008 to 2014, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.

Employment trends are expected to vary among the different occupational specialties. Employment of hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists will increase by 12 percent. This growth will primarily come from an increasing population, which will lead to greater demand for basic hair services. Additionally, the demand for hair coloring and other advanced hair treatments has increased in recent years, particularly among baby boomers and young people. This trend is expected to continue leading to a favorable outlook for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists. Employment of shampooers will grow by 15 percent, as many cosmetologists and barbers are able to perform shampooing services as well. Continued growth in the number of full-service spas and nail salons will also generate numerous job openings for manicurists, pedicurists, and skin-care specialists. Estheticians and other skin-care specialties will see large gains in employment, and are expected to grow almost 38 percent, primarily due to the popularity of skin treatments for relaxation and medical well-being. Manicurists and pedicurists meanwhile will grow by 19 percent.


Median hourly wages in May 2008 for hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists including tips and commission were $11.13. The middle 50 percent earned between $8.57 and $15.03. The highest 10 percent earned more than $20.41.

While earnings for entry-level workers usually are low, earnings can be considerably higher for those with experience. A number of factors, such as the size and location of the salon determine the total income of personal-appearance workers. They may receive commissions based on the price of the services, or a salary based on the number of hours worked and many receive commissions on the products they sell. In addition, some salons pay bonuses to employees who bring in new business. For many personal-appearance workers, the ability to attract and hold regular clients is a key factor in determining earnings. Although some salons offer paid vacations and medical benefits, many self-employed and part-time workers in this occupation do not enjoy such benefits. Some personal-appearance workers receive free trial products from manufacturers in the hope that they will recommend the products to their clients.

Source: U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics,May 2010