How to Become a Cosmetologist

Cosmetology can be an exciting and innovative field. You get to stay on the forefront of fashion and the current trends. In cosmetology you’ll get to help your customers feel stylish and attractive and in some cases you can help them select the right hairstyle and beauty products that are best for them.   Once you’ve decided you are interested in becoming a cosmetologist there are a number of important questions you will probably want answered.

Locate Cosmetology Schools Near You!


The very first thing you’ll want to do once you’re set on becoming a cosmetologist is to look into getting the education and license you need. If you’re serious you’ll want to begin speaking with multiple cosmetology schools about the programs and curriculum that they offer. You can also discuss with them the cost of tuition and whether you can attend part-time or if they only offer full-time schooling.

It is suggested that you look into as many schools as you can so that you can have as much information as possible before selecting one. Cosmetology school is just like looking at any regular college or university, you’ll want to become informed about at least 3 to 5 schools before deciding which one is the best option for you.

Job Description:

You might already have a vague idea of what a cosmetologist does since you’re already interested in the profession. However, there may be parts of the job that you are currently unaware of. At the root of it all, a cosmetologist does much more than cut and style hair. Within cosmetology you will get to follow the latest hair trends and styles and other beauty techniques that can help give your clients the full transformation they’re looking for when they sit in your chair. Many of your visitors will want your advice for styles as they know that you’ll know more about their face and hair type than they do. Additionally, you will learn not only how to cut hair, but also how to color, straighten, perm, curl, weave, add extensions, and many other skills.

Alternately a cosmetologist may also be referred to as a beautician. Part of being a beautician includes nail services such as manicures and pedicures, as well as applying makeup, often for special events such as your customers wedding or school formal. You will also be expected to have a certain amount of knowledge about esthetics. Esthetics is its very own field within cosmetology and its main focus is on skin care which can include facials, extractions, and wraps. Depending on where you live you may need a separate esthetician license to branch into this area.

A part of the job that most don’t consider is cleanliness. This is usually a given but it is extremely important to maintain a work area that is clean and sanitary. This includes knowing how to handle equipment should it come into contact with blood. Knicks aren’t unheard of and because it is a cut you will need to clean your instruments carefully.

You will also want to consider your attitude. The cosmetologists that do well are the ones that are friendly and outgoing with their customers. Feel free to ask questions and offer suggestions if you think the cut or style they want might not be their best option.

Salary Information

The average yearly wage of a cosmetologist is around $27,000. Fortunately this is a big bump from just a few years ago when it was only $22,500 before tips. While this is a general number to go by your actual wages will depend on many things. Some of the things to consider when it comes to wages is the business you work for, whether you are in a metropolitan area or a small city. Both of these will alter how much you make.

You will also want to do your best to encourage your customers to book their next appointment before leaving the salon. The more repeat customers you have the better and they’ll tell all their friends and family how great you are which will bring in more customers as well.

Just like with most professions your level of experience will also affect how much you make. The more experience the better your wages. You can also consider how flexible the profession is when deciding if you want to be a cosmetologist. You can work full time or part time and of course how many hours you work will change your wages accordingly.

If you choose to work in a salon instead of renting your own space or opening your own salon, you will be paid hourly plus tips.

What are the available career paths?

The bonus of a cosmetology career is that you can take it in many different directions depending on your particular interest. Some of the options include:

  • Hairstylist
  • Nail Technician
  • Salon and/or Spa Manager
  • Beauty Industry
  • Hairdresser
  • Wedding Stylist
  • Barber Stylist
  • Salon Assistant

A Day in the Life of a Cosmetologist:

Most of your days will begin with set tasks. The first will be to check the daily schedule. You’ll want to carefully review all of the appointments for the day so that you are aware which clients you will be seeing. If you have time you may want to make reminder calls to ensure that everyone shows up at the correct time. No shows can be a big issue and anything you can do to cut down on them is time well spent.

Next you will prepare your work station. Setting up your station allows you to get organized and to have all of your tools readily available once your first customer comes in. You’ll want to keep your work area clean and tidy, this will also require cleaning up after each customer so return it to its previous condition.

You’ll also need to spend time meeting with your clients. Throughout the day you may find yourself providing a variety of services since you are trained in hair, nail, and makeup. If you specialize in a particular area then your day will be filled with mostly the same kind of customers. With each client you’ll first want to have your consultation where you go over what they are wanting and what you can do, this is where everyone will as questions about the look the customer is hoping to achieve. Once everyone is on the same page you can begin.

Once consultation is over and you move into the actual service you will go through a variety of techniques depending on the particular work you are doing. This could be anything from shampooing/conditioning, trimming, cutting, coloring, and styling hair, hand treatments, nail color, cuticle treatments, color palette selection for makeup, and more. You’ll want to make sure that all of your work is custom to the desires of your current customer. As you work you can be social with the customer and can get to know and learn more about them. Getting to know them helps to build a trusting relationship so that they will want to return to you for future services.

At the end of the appointment you will want to go ahead and schedule the next. Try and be as friendly and upbeat as possible when you ask when they would like to return. If you’ve done a haircut you might want to suggest a number of weeks for a trim, or whenever they would need to touch up roots from a color. If you go ahead and mention a set time-frame it ingrains that if they like their look they’ll need to return to maintain it. If they seem exceptionally pleased you may even mention that you would love it if they could refer their friends and/or family.

Educational Requirements and Schooling

The very first step you’ll want to take once you’ve decided on cosmetology is to select a school. At the school you will learn the broad variety of skills and specific techniques that are necessary to pass the test for the cosmetologist license. Depending on where you live the requirements can vary but your school will teach you everything you need to know.

You’ll find that cosmetology is one of the best beauty fields to enter because it cover such a broad variety of specializations. You can work towards a particular field or you can stay versatile, it is all up to you.

The average cosmetology training lasts between 9 to 15 months depending on if you go full or part time. Many school are even available for night and weekend classes so that you can still study without interfering with your current day job. Obviously if you go part time it will take a bit longer to graduate.

For your schooling you can expect to pay from $10,000 to $20,000 depending on the type of school you select and what is included with tuition. Some tuition will include books and supplies while others will not. Take this into consideration when you look at tuition fees.

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