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Cosmetology - Career Information

How do start my cosmetology career?

Once you’ve selected and been accepted to a cosmetology training program well suited to your career goals, you’ll need to pass all required courses and complete all hands on training requirements. In many states, a supervised period of employment in a work-based setting is required after completing your education. This may happen in a school-based salon that is open to the public, or in a private spa or salon during an apprenticeship program.

Where can I find cosmetologist jobs?

General cosmetologist and specialized esthetician jobs are typically found in beauty salons or spas. “Salon” customarily refers to a beauty services business that offers hair services, and may or may not also offer nail services, make-up services or skin treatments. A “spa” more often refers to a body-services business that includes skin treatments and massage services, and may offer nail services as well.

Spas and salons range in size from small, intimate settings to large, bustling business with many stations and services. General cosmetologists and estheticians may find themselves working alongside other similarly licensed professionals, or even working as part of a personal-appearance and bodywork team with massage therapists and nail-technicians.

Personal appearance services are moving into more varied settings.  Health-clubs, department stores, dermatologists’ offices, medical day-spas, vacation spas and health retreats are all venues where general cosmetologists and estheticians are finding jobs. Estheticians are even finding jobs in hospitals helping people recover from illness or injury that has affected the appearance of their skin.  Those who work as paramedical estheticians, as they’re are called, describe it as a rewarding application of their skills and expertise.

What kinds of clients can I expect?

This will be based principally on the type of services you decide to provide, but the quick answer is “all kinds.” If you choose to specialize in cutting-edge trends and edgy styles, you will find yourself with a younger clientele.

Some cosmetologists specialize in wigs and hairpieces and may work with people who have suffered medical hair loss.

If you choose to specialize in sophisticated hair color treatments, your clientele will probably be an older demographic with more disposable income.

A cosmetologist specializing in hair styling may find that he or she has a clientele of both genders, where an esthetician whose emphasis is make-up styling will work mostly with women. The goal of most personal appearance workers, however, is building up a loyal clientele who will return whenever they need services, and follow their stylist from salon to salon.

How do I provide services in someone else’s salon?

Employment arrangements in these settings vary. In some salons, general cosmetologists or estheticians rent space from the salon owner, and then pay a small portion of each service to the salon. This allows a personal appearance worker to have the benefit of the space and equipment without the need for large investments in order to deliver a service.  This also allows the salon to market services without incurring additional costs by having to pay a cosmetologist’s salary. Busier spas or salons may even hire estheticians and general cosmetologists directly, and pay based on scheduled hours rather than receive a percentage of the revenue they generate.

What kinds of things can I do to advance my career?

A cosmetologist can pursue supplemental certifications in a variety of beauty treatments, but always check to make sure that you are meeting the education and training requirements for any services or treatments not included in your license.

Personal appearance workers who want to offer more varied services to attract a wider clientele can complete certification courses for teeth whitening, laser skin treatments, electrolysis and cosmetic tattooing.

As experience in cosmetology and esthetics increases, practitioners may want to increase their business knowledge by taking additional courses in bookkeeping, marketing or small business management to advance from station-based service delivery to running or owning their own salon or spa.  Although the complexity and work-demand increases sharply, experienced personal appearance workers find the creative freedom of running their own business to be very rewarding.

Cosmetology Schools