Cosmetologists practice hair-care skills (including washing, cutting, coloring, perming, and applying various conditioning treatments), esthetics (performing skin care treatments), and nail care (grooming of hands and feet). Barbers are not cosmetologists; they undergo separate training and licensing procedures. There are approximately 351,960 cosmetologists, hairdressers, and hair stylists employed in the United States.

Next Section: History

Quick Facts
Alternate Title(s) Beauticians, Stylists
Duties Recommend hair, face, and scalp treatment; discuss hair and skin care options; apply shampoo, conditioner, and color to hair; cut, dry and style hair; process payments; clean and sanitize tools and work area
Salary Range Below $25,000 to $50,000
Work Environment Primarily Indoors
Best Geographical Location(s) All regions, with greatest opportunities in cities
Minimum Education Level
  • High School Diploma
  • Some Postsecondary Training
School Subjects
  • Art
  • Business
  • Speech
Experience Completion of a cosmetology training program
Personality Traits
  • Artistic
  • Hands On
  • Social
  • Business Management
  • Drawing/Design
  • Interpersonal
Certification or Licensing Required
Special Requirements Must be 16 years old for license
Employment Prospects Good
Advancement Prospects Good
Outlook About as Fast as the Average
Career Ladder
  • Salon Owner
  • Shop Manager
  • Cosmetologist
  • Shampooer

Get Our Career Newsletter

Interview, resume and job search tips emailed directly to you.