Cosmetology Careers & Salaries

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Interested in learning more about cosmetology careers? If so you’ve come to the right place.  In general pursuing a career in these areas means that you’ll be providing beauty, hairstyling and skincare services to help enhance the appearance of customers. You’ll likely also be working for places like barber shops, salons or health spas – or you could choose to be self-employed. To give you a better sense of the different cosmetology jobs, potential salaries and job prospects, let’s take a look at cosmetologists, barbers, hairdressers and skincare specialists.



Cosmetologists are responsible for providing clients with scalp and facial treatments and performing makeup analysis. Some may also sell skincare products and treatments or clean and style wigs and other hairpieces. Other typical duties may include plucking and shaping eyebrows, removing facial hair with wax, and cleaning or polishing fingernails and toenails.

Median annual cosmetology salary: $22,770[i]

Job growth, 2012-22: 13%[i]          



Barbers are responsible for cutting, shampooing and styling hair, primarily for male clients. Their duties may also include fitting hairpieces, and shaving and trimming beards and mustaches. Depending on the location, some barbers may be licensed to bleach, color, highlight and perm hair. Common work tools include clippers, scissors and combs.

Median annual salary: $22,770[i]

Job growth, 2012-22: 13%[i]



Hairdressers – also called hairstylists – offer a similar range of hair services as do barbers, including shampooing, cutting, coloring and styling. The primary difference is that hairdressers advise both male and female clients on how to care for their hair. They may also keep records of services and products that they provide to clients such as shampoo, hair color and other treatments. Common work tools include blow dryers, curling irons and scissors.

Median annual salary: $22,770[i]

Job growth, 2012- 22: $13%[i]

Note: All states require that cosmetologists, barbers and hairdressers are licensed. To qualify for a license, candidates must graduate from a state-approved cosmetology program.[ii]


Skincare specialists

Skincare specialists are responsible for cleansing and beautifying their clients’ faces and bodies. Some of the typical duties of skincare specialists may include discussing treatments to improve skin quality, removing unwanted hair with wax or laser treatments, and referring clients to dermatologists for serious skin problems. They must also ensure that equipment is disinfected and that work areas are clean.

Median annual salary: $28,640[iii]

Job growth, 2012-22: 40% (much faster than average)[iii]

Note: Skincare specialists must complete a state-approved cosmetology or esthetician program and pass a state exam for licensure (except in Connecticut).[iv]

[i] | [ii] | [iii] | [iv]


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