Become an expert in personal appearance
The cosmetology industry is a vibrant part of the North American economy. There are nearly 2 million people working in over 300,000 beauty salons across the U.S. Job titles include beautician, makeup artist, cosmetologist and esthetician.
Beauty school is about more than just learning how to apply lipstick and mascara. Most cosmetology programs consist of about approximately 1500 hours of class and practice time. Some of the programs or program combinations that are taught in beauty schools include:
- Nail technology
Most states require workers in the cosmetology industry to be licensed, so going to school is a must.
A good first step when choosing a beauty school is to call around to local salons (or go in person) to speak to the beauticians and hairdressers there. Ask them where they got their education and what schools they recommend. As you talk, listen for anything they mention that matches the factors you care about (e.g. tuition, facilities, teachers). It's also important to visit the school before you apply. Get a sense for the instructors and have a look around the facilities. You'll be spending a lot of time there, so make sure it's an environment you're comfortable in.
The cosmetology industry has consistent turnover, so there are always jobs available. Also, the field is expected to grow at a steady rate over the next decade, so no job shortages are predicted. Around half of all workers in the personal appearance field are self-employed. Many own and operate their own salons.
Salary prospects range from average to high (salon professionals can average up to $50,000, including tips), but there can be a lot of competition for the top-paying jobs and the most affluent clientele.