Cosmetologists are licensed beauty professionals who cut and style hair as well as provide a range of related services. For example, cosmetologists may provide scalp treatments, makeup analysis and recommend skin care and makeup products to customers. In general, cosmetologists focus on a person as a whole, helping them to choose the right hair and skin care products as well as consulting with the client on flattering haircuts and styles that complement the client’s individual features.
The US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that cosmetologists earned about $10.91 per hour as of May 2012, or about $23,000 per year. However, the Bureau notes that this number is likely low as many beauty professionals only work part-time hours and a significant portion of their income is derived from client tips, rather than just professional charges. Additionally, many cosmetologists are self-employed and may operate other related businesses that impact their annual income, making it even more difficult for researchers to determine an annual salary. As there are significant difficulties in estimating salary averages for cosmetologists, the $10.91 figure should be considered a low estimate. The Bureau further states that salaries range widely, with the top 10% of income earners making over $20 per hour.
While the average income for cosmetologists may be about $10.91 an hour, there are a number of factors that influence earnings. For example, cosmetologists working in urban areas typically earn more than those working in more rural areas. Cosmetologists who are more highly trained are able to provide a wider range of services will also earn more than those who cannot provide these services. As with most other positions, more experienced workers generally earn more money than those who are new to the field. As many cosmetologists are self-employed, they are responsible for advertising and marketing to build clients and boost sales. Those who are better able to network and build a large customer base will earn more money than others who do not have a lot of dedicated clients.
Future Salary Trends
The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects job growth to remain strong in coming decades. Two factors will fuel cosmetologist job growth: the need to replace current workers who are retiring and the increased beauty needs of older clients. This demand for trained professionals with a cosmetology certification should keep salaries growing for the foreseeable future. Job growth is expected to be strongest for those professionals with advanced skills. These advanced skills, such as hair straightening and coloring, will help cosmetologists to land jobs and to earn more money than professionals who do not have as much training and experience.
As the field of cosmetology is expected to grow in coming years, those interested in working in the field should carefully consider starting searching for cosmetology school now to be ready to profit from future job growth. Students who complete a cosmetology degree program and who take classes to keep their skills current can find themselves in demand and making a good living.