A cosmetology career puts your creativity to work in helping people look their best. Although the scope of the job depends on state licensing laws, most cosmetologists cut and style hair, give treatments to the hair and skin, and apply makeup. If you’re good with your hands and enjoy pampering others, a cosmetology career may suit you perfectly — as long as you are also aware of the disadvantages.
In every state, you must complete an approved training program before beginning a career as a cosmetologist. Obtain training at some high schools, vocational or technical schools, and two-year colleges. Full-time cosmetology training usually takes a minimum of nine months, and some colleges have two-year associate degree programs. After training, you must pass state licensing exams, which often include both a written test and a styling test. Most states also require a licensing fee, and many states require you to renew your license regularly and pay a renewal fee.
A cosmetologist’s work is physically tiring and hard on the back, legs and feet. Cosmetologists must stand most of the time as they cut and style hair and apply hair and skin treatments. The hours often include evening and weekends, because salons stay open when working clients are available for services. In addition, constant use of shampoos, hair dyes, and permanent wave and straightening solutions causes skin irritation in those prone to allergies. The fumes from some chemicals in cosmetology products also can irritate the eyes and lungs.
The typical cosmetologist earns less than the average high school graduate. Cosmetologists earned average hourly pay of $12.88 in 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. For a full year at 40 hours per week, this equals $26,790, thousands less than the $33,904 average annual pay for high school graduates, according to the BLS. Many cosmetologists work only part-time and actually receive less. Wages vary, however, and the lowest-earning 10 percent of cosmetologists received $8.10 per hour or less in 2012. The top-earning 10 percent received $20.37 per hour or more. Most cosmetologists receive tips from customers that can raise their annual earnings.
Cosmetologists who want to increase their income face several obstacles. In many shops, beauticians have to pay rent on their booth spaces. Experienced operators often open their own salons, but they must find and keep clients to make money. Jobs for cosmetologists are expected to increase by 14 percent between 2010 and 2020, and those who retire or leave for other work will create additional openings. However, cosmetologists who want to move to higher-paying salons will face intense competition.
Finally, cosmetologists have to be friendly and patient with all types of customers, even the difficult and surly ones. The must pay attention to what clients want in a haircut, style or treatment to cultivate repeat customers. Some services, such as color or permanent waves, require precise timing — or a client’s hair may be ruined. The risk of making a mistake, displeasing clients and losing them adds to a stylist’s job stress.
So, feel like you can take the heat and deal with some of these issues? Then you may be fit to be a cosmetologist! We’ve gone over both the pros and cons, and hopefully you have gotten some answers with these articles.