Some cosmetologists choose to pursue specialized training in one service. For example:
Cosmetologists should have excellent communication skills and be able to put their clients at ease. These professionals are generally responsible for keeping records of their clients' beauty regimens as well. Cosmetologists who operate their own salons will also have managerial duties, such as maintaining inventory records, ordering supplies, and supervising staff members.
According to the National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts & Sciences (NACCAS) 2007 Job Demand Survey, there were more than 1.68 million cosmetology professionals working in more than 370,000 skin care salons, nail salons, skin care salons, and barber shops in January 2007. The survey also revealed that between 2003 and 2007, the number of salons increased by 18 percent.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, personal appearance professionals held about 821,900 jobs in 2008. Overall, job opportunities for cosmetologists are expected to grow by 20 percent through 2018. Employment opportunities for estheticians in particular are expected to increase 38 percent through 2018 as skin care treatments becoming more and more popular.
Salaries for cosmetologists vary depending on specialty. In May 2008, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary of hair stylists was $26,660; the average annual salary of manicurists and pedicurists was $22,040; and the average annual salary of estheticians was $32,040. The top 10 percent of estheticians at that time earned $52,340 per year, while the top 10 percent of hair stylists and manicurists/pedicurists earned $42,460 and $32,570, respectively.
South Carolina's Charleston Cosmetology Institute reports that the average cosmetology student is 21 years old. The second largest age bracket—22 to 24-year-olds—constitute 20 percent of the student body. The vast majority of the institute's students are female. In fact, only one half of 1 percent of the student populations is male.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, prospective cosmetology students are generally required to hold a high school diploma or GED before enrolling in a cosmetology program.
Cosmetology schools generally design their curricula to teach students a host of skills for working with hair, skin, nails, and makeup. Cosmetology students learn how to provide a variety of services through in-class lectures, hands-on training, and assigned reading. Students generally concentrate their studies in a particular area, however, such as manicures and pedicures, hair styling, or skin care.
Most cosmetology programs provide their students with a kit that contains the essential tools for becoming a cosmetologist. Kits typically include brushes, clippers, shears, irons, a blow dryer, and mannequin heads, among other tools. The cost of this kit is usually included in the school's tuition. However, students may find that they need to purchase a few miscellaneous items, such as textbooks and specialized beauty products. The cost of these additional tools will vary depending on the type and quality of the item.
In general, state-licensed cosmetology schools offer certificates, diplomas, and associate's degrees. Cosmetology certificates are typically conferred upon students who have completed between 30 and 70 hours of training. Certificate students learn a number of techniques for nail, skin, and hair care through coursework that combines theory and hands-on training. Tuition for certificate programs costs approximately $3,000.
Earning a cosmetology diploma will allow graduates to work in mid- to upper-level salons. These students will learn how to cut and color hair, give manicures and pedicures, and how to conduct themselves appropriately in a professional environment. Required courses may include cosmetology theory, hair cutting and coloring, nail care, skin care, and salon management. A traditional curriculum will involve both theory and hands-on training. Full-time students generally complete these cosmetology programs in 15 to 18 months. Depending on the school and its location, a cosmetology diploma program will cost approximately $6,000 to $10,000.
An associate's degree in cosmetology takes about two years to complete. Associate's degree programs teach students how to perform basic skills that they will use as a starting point to enter a career as a makeup artist, hair stylist, esthetician, or nail specialist. Students are required to complete courses in hair styling, color theory, nail care, skin care, cosmetology, customer services, and business administration, among others. Associate's degree programs in cosmetology cost approximately $6,000 to $10,000.
Atlanta Technical College: Cosmetology Diploma
Charleston Cosmetology Institute
National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences: 2007 Job Demand Survey Results
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Hair Stylists
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Manicurists/Pedicurists
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Estheticians
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Employment Outlook