Cosmetology Salary

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Learn about the salary range and earning potential for a hair or skin care specialist.

What Could My Cosmetology Salary Be?

The demand for great hair and skin professionals is growing and enrolling in a hair and skin care program will give you the foundation you need to pursue one of many different careers.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) current Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median salary for cosmetologists is $24,300 per year and for estheticians, it’s $30,270 per year. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors.

Working in the beauty industry can offer a strong earning potential, but it takes strategy and business savvy.

The best cosmetologists and estheticians know how to market themselves to build a client base. Promoting yourself and doing a great job at a spa or salon will help you build a supply of returning clients. Plus, word of mouth is always a great marketing tool.

With loyal customers who come to you regularly, you could find yourself in a position to strike out on your own and manage a business one day. This can greatly increase your earning potential, since you can determine price points for services and keep the profits.

How Do Esthetician and Cosmetologist Salaries Compare?

Natural Health CareerMedian Annual Salary*
Manicurists and Pedicurists$22,150
Massage Therapists$39,860
Skin Care Specialists$30,270

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2018-19 Occupational Outlook Handbook; Manicurists and Pedicurists Massage TherapistsSkin Care Specialists.

*The salary information listed is based on a national average, unless noted. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.

Is There Demand for This Career?

For both cosmetologists and estheticians, there is a high demand for specialists at any level. On the cosmetology side, people everywhere and from every demographic need their hair cut, nails done or their eyebrows waxed—and this is a need that won’t go away.

For estheticians, the demand is also there, especially as technology has contributed to more advanced skin care. Plus, many medical professionals view estheticians as a good solution for various skin problems.

Is This a Growing Field?

According to the BLS, job growth for estheticians through 2026 is predicted to be 13 percent; for cosmetologists, predicted job growth over the same time span is 10 percent.

The predicted national average for job growth in all professions is 7 percent, which means cosmetology positions and esthetician jobs are expected to grow at a faster-than-average rate. However, it is important to be aware that national long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions.

How Much Competition Will I Face for a Job?

Competition and your chances of landing a job are somewhat dependent on the state you live in and the kind of businesses you’re seeking work with. For example, finding a job in a high-end spa can be extremely competitive, especially for someone in an entry-level position.

Generally, smaller salons will be a less competitive, attainable place to kick off your career. Here you can establish yourself, hone your skills and generate your own client base.

What Kinds of Institutions Hire Hair and Skin Care Specialists?

Institutions that hire cosmetologists or estheticians include spas, salons, resorts, health care clinics, medi-spas—and more.

Nearly half of all hair and skin care specialists are self-employed, either running their own businesses or taking clients privately. Some hair and skin care professionals will rent a business space together and manage their own clients individually within that location.

How Do I Advance in My Esthetician or Cosmetologist Career?

If you’re looking to advance in the world of beauty services, there are two important tactics to consider: Practice and self-promotion. Once you’ve made your start as an esthetician or cosmetologist, the more practice you have, the better you’ll get. In addition to this, getting to know your clients and establishing a positive rapport with them will encourage returning customers, not to mention word of mouth business.

If you’re interested in advancing your career by furthering your education, you have a few options. For those practicing general cosmetology, you can continue your education by studying a specialized area, such as makeup artistry or advanced hair treatments.

To advance your esthetician career, earning a master esthetician license will help. These programs will teach you advanced skills and how to find work in institutions like medi-spas and health care clinics.

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