Cosmetology Careers Unlimited College
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Cosmetologists wash, cut, color, perm, and style customers' hair. They also perform skincare services and nail services.

Cosmetologists provide all the services of hairstylists and more. For customers who want a makeover, cosmetologists begin by analyzing their hair and physical features. Based on their analysis, they recommend makeup and skin treatments. They may rub on facial treatments to clean and beautify the skin. Then cosmetologists shape the eyebrows and apply makeup and explain each step on the process. Cosmetologists also clean, shape, and polish customers' fingernails and toenails. Some cosmetologists clean and style wigs and hair pieces.

Cosmetologists must keep their work areas clean. After each customer, they sweep the floor around the chair. They also wash the combs and any other tools used on used on customers. In addition, they make appointments and keep records of the products their customers use. For example, they record what hair colors customers use. Some workers sell hair products or makeup supplies. Those who own or manage salons order supplies, pay bills, keep records, and hire employees.

Cosmetologist jobs very depending on the size and type of salon they work in. Some salons may only do hairstyles. Larger salons may hire nail technicians to do nails only and estheticians to work with the skin.


To work as a hairstylist or cosmetologist, you must:

  • complete a cosmetology program
  • be at least 16 years old
  • pass a licensing exam
  • have good interpersonal skills
  • be self-motivated

Formal Education

Most cosmetologists complete a formal training program. Professional technical schools and two-year colleges offer cosmetology and hairstyling programs. As a student, you get both classroom and hands-on training. During training, hairstylists learn to shampoo, cut, and style hair. Cosmetologists learn skin care, hair removal, and makeup application. You also study sterilization techniques, chemistry, and skin problems. It takes nine to 24 months to complete a program.

On-the-Job Training

At first you practice on other students in your training program. Later you work with customers in a salon that offers discounted services for work done by trainees.

Helpful High School Courses

A high school degree is required to work in this occupation. You should take courses in high school that prepare you to earn a high school diploma. This includes courses in English, math, science, and social studies. You also need to take courses in physical education, health, and applied art or second language.

Below is a list of high school courses that will help prepare you for this specific occupation. While you do not have to take all of them, you should consider them in planning for high school. Some of these courses are also available at colleges and technical schools.

Introduction to Business

Life and Physical Science

General Math
Business Math

Since many cosmetologists are self-employed, you may find it useful to take business, accounting, and computer courses.

Hiring Practices

Most employers require hairstylists and cosmetologists to be licensed. Some states may require applicants to pass physical exams. Other states require applicants to have a high school degree or GED.

Employers look for hairstylists and cosmetologists who have an understanding of fashion, art, and technical design. They look for employees who enjoy working with people. They also want stylists who are willing and able to follow customers' instructions. Some salon owners look for employees with a certain image and attitude to fit the culture of their business.

Licensing / Certification

Cosmetologists must be licensed to practice in Minnesota. Applicants fo rlicensing must provide evidence of the following:

  • complete high school diploma or GED
  • complete at least 1,550 hours of schooling at an approved cosmetology school; and
  • complete and pass the cosmetologist exam

A cosmetology license must be renewed every three years. For renewal, an applicant must have a certain number of salon experience hours and pay a renewal fee.


In Minnesota, the median wage for hairstylists and cosmetologists is $11.85 per hour, or $2,054 per month for a full-time worker. Half of all cosmetologists earn between $9.42 and $15.43 per hour, or between $1,633 and $2,675 per month.

Nationally, the median wage for cosmetologists is $1,580 per month ($9.12 per hour). Half of all of the cosmetologists earn between $1,250 and $2,130 per month ($7.22 and $12.31 per hour).

Pay vaies by the hairstylist's experience and the range of services they provide. The number of customers they attract and hold also affects wages. In addition, pay varies by how much customer tip. Some hairstylists and cosmetologists receive a portion of money from the products they sell. In some salons, employess are paid bonuses for bringing in new clients.

Some salons offer benefits for full-time employees. These may include sick leave, paid vacation, and medical insurance. However, many cosmetologists are self-employed or work part-time, and do not earn these benefits.


In Minnesota, about 13,568 cosmetologists work in this medium-sized occupation.

Nationally, about 585,000 cosmetologists work in this medium-sized occupation.

Nearly every city has beauty salons. However, most salons are in big cities or suburbs, where there is a high demand for their services.

About 44 percent of hairstylists and cosmetologists are self-employed. Some own their own salon. Many others lease a booth or chair from the salon's owner.


In Minnesota, employment for cosmetologists is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through 2012.

Nationally, the number of jobs for cosmetologists is expected to grow about as fast as the average through the year 2012.

As the population and personal incomes grow, the demand for cosmetologists should increase. Some growth will come from teenagers and baby boomers, including men, who want coloring services. There will also be growth in full-service spa salons. These salons offer services such as beauty wraps, pedicures, and massages. Many employees will be needed to offer a range of services. However, strong competition is expected for jobs at elite salons where the pay is higher.

Additional job openings will be created as current hairstylists and cosmetologists transfer to other occupations.

Advancement for cosmetologists is usually in the form of building a steady client base. A large group of loyal clients usually results in more money for workers. Cosmetologists may advance by becoming managers or large shps or by opening their own shops. A few may become instructors. This requires experience and teacher training. Others may become sales representatives for cosmetic firms, or work as examiners for state licensing boards.


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