Cosmetology is a field that is only interested in making people look and feel good using makeup, hair, and nails.

You can also go the skincare and spa route and learn everything you need to give spa treatments and services.

You need to know that some cosmetology degrees also include hygiene and safety practices and business administration.

Now, cosmetologists are not doctors or dermatologists, as you need to go to medical school to be any of the latter stated.

Instead, as a cosmetologist, you’ll have to go to cosmetology or beauty school. Cosmetologists also get training in skin health, care, and management.

A cosmetology degree is a technical degree that you can find at several community colleges, and when you get one, you qualify to take the licensing exam in your state that lets you practice.

This degree opens you to several career options, depending on where your interests lie.

Source: Pinterest

Figure 1: 2012 Statistics of the average salaries of cosmetologists in the U.S.

Source: Pinterest


As a cosmetologist, you can work in a salon, spa, resort, or anywhere where people need your services. You can even opt for the freelancing route, which opens up more career opportunities.

However, these are the most popular career options for cosmetologists.

1. Esthetician

As an esthetician, you’ll specialize in skin treatments and beautification.

You will also perform a variety of skincare treatments like facials, masks, chemical peels, and waxing. Estheticians are not medical personnel but can get training in several cosmetic procedures.

Beauty therapist, Melis Ates says you can go for more training on non-surgical beauty procedures after getting your degree. Estheticians are in high demand.

Everyone wants a spa day and anti-aging treatments, so who better to give them than a trained esthetician?

As an esthetician, you can choose to work at a spa, do home services, or produce skincare products.

At a spa, you will perform the standard spa treatments and any other exotic treatments that may be offered there. Or, you may prefer working as a freelancer or doing home services because of the freedom it provides.

A good number of them also work exclusively for certain celebrity clients as skin specialists.

Another aspect of cosmetology and esthetics is that it offers you the opportunity to run your own business. You can expect to bring home anything from $18,000 as a starting salary to about $60,000 per year.

2. Nail Artist and Technician

A nail technician is an essential part of the beauty industry because the wrong nails can mess up the symmetry of a well-styled look, and nobody wants that.

Nail art has always been a big part of the beauty industry, and the demand for qualified nail techs has always been high.

Nail technicians provide manicure and pedicure services, nail treatments, and general maintenance and grooming of their clients’ nails. You also get to create different nail designs with nail polish, acrylic, and gel polish. Some nail art incorporates rhinestones and crystals.

As with other salon jobs, you can choose to work in someone’s salon with other nail techs. You will have a different workstation for your work, or you can run your own nail salon business. You can also attempt a freelance career and work for various clients at hourly rates.

You can also work your way out to become a celebrity nail technician because this role is more exclusive and cater to more high-end clients, often creating daring looks for events, fashion shows, or photoshoots.

Nail technicians usually charge hourly rates based on their qualifications and location, but you can earn anywhere from $15,000 to over $30,000 yearly.

3. Hairstylist

When you think of cosmetology, what comes to your mind? You most likely thought of a hairstylist, didn’t you?. They cut, color, and style hair. They also create innovative new hairstyles for fashion events and magazine covers. If you become a hairstylist, you get to work on both male and female hairstyles.

But that doesn’t make you a barber. Barbers are more focused on cutting the hair in simple styles, while hair styling involves a lot more styles and designs. Hairstyling also covers the creation of styles and not just the actual cutting.

You can work in salons to earn commissions, or you can work as a freelance stylist. A percentage of hairstylists run their own salons and employ other hairstylists.

Like cosmetologists, you can provide services exclusively for fashion magazines, fashion shows, and celebrities as a hairstylist.

Can you guess who creates the daring and unique looks that grace runways every season?

Runway hair stylists of course. A low-end hairstylist can earn an hourly rate of up to $8 while the higher-rated ones can earn up to $25 per hour. Some celebrity stylists can make up to $1000 for a day’s job.

4. Makeup Artist

Everyone and their mother is a makeup artist. You don’t necessarily need a cosmetology degree to start, so it is an open market.

But, getting one before or during your career boosts your growth and rating in the beauty community.

Cosmetology trains makeup artists on various makeup application techniques and procedures that give an advantage over other makeup artists in the beauty industry.

They also learn how to take care of different skin tones and types. Are you really a makeup artist if you can’t handle different skin tones and types?

A lot of makeup artists also work as content creators on social media as well as working in salons and with makeup brands. However, most makeup artists are freelancers who charge hourly rates for events such as weddings.

Some popular makeup artists like Makeup by Mario, have built their own brands working as celebrity makeup artists for well-known celebrities and ambassadors for various big name brands.

Due to the nature of this profession, you earn widely different salaries depending on where and how often you work.


We get it. Most cosmetologists end up in salon jobs, but not everyone wants a typical job.

Luckily, a cosmetology degree goes far beyond the standard hair and makeup jobs that most people go for.

Cosmetology offers you an opportunity to spread your creative wings and explore every opportunity you can find.

Source: Pinterest

Figure 2: Chart showing the average earnings from unconventional cosmetology careers

Source: Pinterest

1. Platform Artist

Platform artists are a big deal in the beauty industry and among beauty experts around the world. They are icons in their own right, and they represent the glitz and glam on the beauty world.

Platform artists are a step up from the regular cosmetologists we see, and they are a mix of entertainers, educators, and sales strategists.

They represent different brands and tour the world, demonstrating various makeup techniques and trends in front of crowds at events, salons, and beauty stores. How glamorous!

A lot of big salon owners started as platform artists until they built a name for themselves and decided to start their brands. Huge brands like Estee Lauder, Mac, and L’Oreal employ platform artists as brand ambassadors to promote their products and bring in big sales for them.

As a platform artist, you must be well-educated on the ins and outs of beauty products, trends, and applications. Also, you need to learn how to relate to massive crowds and customers.

Depending on your location and employer, you stand to make anywhere from $50,000 to $85,000 per year.

2. Artistic Director

As an artistic director, you are responsible for the hair, and makeup looks associated with a beauty brand or salon.

You manage teams that create bold and different looks that supposedly represent the image of the brand. This role is purely administrative, although you can come up with some creative ideas too.

Nowadays, fashion and beauty companies hire artistic directors to head marketing campaigns and photoshoots, in an attempt to maintain an image or create a new one.

You need a finely honed eye for beauty and esthetics, along with strong managerial skills. As an artistic director, you can earn an average of $50,000 per year.

3. Movie Makeup and Stylist

Makeup artists and hairstylists work in film and theater productions, and they put together hair and makeup looks for movies and stage productions.

Film makeup is not the same as everyday makeup, so that you may need some extra training, especially for special effects makeup. Also, some hairstyles require some knowledge of the period and trends of that period.

Film makeup is another avenue that requires you to explore your creativity to make the actors look better on TV and stage. You have to work around the bright lights of the set, so you need to know how to manipulate makeup.

The hairstyles also have to be period-specific and suitable for the project you’re working in, so you get several opportunities to show off your creativity. Film stylists earn an average of $50,000 to $60,000 per year.

4. Celebrity Stylist

As a celebrity stylist, you get to put your employers in eye-catching and glamorous hairstyles and makeup. You qualify as one when you work with a celebrity regularly.

They vary from elegant black-tie outfits for red carpet events to casual events for more understated events.

If you’re good enough, you may be put on a retainer for months. So you are responsible for their looks at all times.

Celebrity stylists are usually tasked with creating a distinctive look or brand for a celebrity. You also come up with more hair and makeup looks that go with the celebrity’s already existing brand. Some stars also hire personal estheticians and makeup artists that follow them everywhere.

Suffice to say, celebrity stylists, are in high demand. And, if you’re engaging enough, you can gather a good follower.

It can be a fulfilling job, especially if you develop a good reputation with your clients. Working as a freelance artist that isn’t exclusively attached to one person is also possible. You can make up to $100,000 per year, depending on their employers.

5. Editorial Stylist

Do you know who comes up with the glamorous and artistic looks you see in magazines and advertisements?

Editorial or fashion stylists! They curate hair and makeup looks for fashion magazines and publications.

You also see their work on TV advertisements and in fashion houses. You can work as an editorial stylist, with models to create distinctive looks for particular brands and fashion houses.

You get hired to put together hair, and makeup looks that suit the brand they are working with.

You also work with photographers and art directors to come up with concepts for shoots and advertisements. Your responsibility is simply to curate the perfect look.

The work is exciting and interesting, but it demands a keen eye for aesthetics and poise, and most importantly creativity. An average editorial stylist earns just over $40,000 per year.

Source: Forbes

Figure 3: Average earnings of content creators

Source: Forbes

6. Content Creator and Influencer

Content creation is all the rage now, especially in the beauty industry.

Many beauty experts run blogs, social media pages, and YouTube channels where they make money from sponsorships, streams, and merch sales. Content creation involves making beauty-related posts and videos that others can relate to.

For instance, if you are a beauty blogger, you can post about the current makeup and fashion trends, products, and news. You can run ads on your blog and get some extra income.

YouTubers post makeup tutorials, beauty hauls and challenges to draw viewers and advertise for brands.

You get sponsors who pay you to advertise for them, and you also get income from YouTube views. You can also go on to launch a makeup company or release collections with established brands.

Becoming a content creator doesn’t require a cosmetology degree, but if you own this, you will have the edge over those that don’t have because it gives you a deeper knowledge of how the industry works.

So, to become a content creator, you have to be entertaining and engaging, so people are drawn to your channel. Content creators don’t have a fixed salary range as their income depends on their followers, views, and engagements.

Source: Jobland

Figure 4: Average training and academic qualification for skincare specialist

Source: Jobland

7. Runway Makeup and Hairstylist

Runway stylists are responsible for the bold, creative looks we see every season on catwalks around the world.

Working as a runway stylist is a lot of work, and it requires you to be on top of the latest trends and set some trends yourself.

But, it is a very satisfying job that gives you a platform to explore your style and creativity.

Fashion shows are always hectic and filled with action and a lot of running around, so you need to keep that in mind and prepare yourself for the ever-changing looks.

You can work as a makeup artist, hairstylist, or both. As a runway makeup artist, you would need to create unique looks for every designer, model, or outfit. So, you need to think fast so you can keep up with the constant energy. Runway artists constantly fly around the world for fashion shows when they’re worth their salt, so it involves some luxury and glam.

Runway makeup artists, on the other hand, put together lovely makeup looks to go with the gorgeous outfits from the pieces in the collection for every model.

Since runway work is seasonal, many runway stylists do editorial work or run their own businesses in between. As a runway artist, you can expect to earn from $20,000 to above $100,000 per annum from a well-known stylist.


A lot of cosmetologists tend to go into private business.

Do you feel shocked reading this?

Cosmetology is a vocational profession that runs on how well you can do your job.

Even though you start by working for somebody, with your cosmetology degree, you can register a business and employ other skilled cosmetologists to work for you.

Source: Bplans

Figure 5: Sample of a hair and beauty salon business plan

Source: BPlans

Of course, running a business is not easy, especially in the formative years.

So, I make a few tips below that can help you keep your head up while trying to set up a lasting business, whether it is a salon or a makeup brand.

Know How to Manage Your Employees

Employer-employee relationships are essential in any business.

When running a cosmetology business, you will most likely hire licensed cosmetologists like you. And you would like to be respected as an employer.

Prioritize Customer Service

The cosmetology business is very customer-oriented, as it is a service providing field. Most of your experiences with customers would be face to face.

So, make sure you and your employees are nice to your customers when providing your services.

Hire More Freelancers

Freelancers comprise a big part of the cosmetology field.

So, there is a high number available for hire. They are usually cheaper to hire with as much skill as any other cosmetologist. Sometimes, you’ll need short-term employees, and freelancers are always available.

Prepare for a Challenging Ride

The beauty industry is not always as glamorous as it seems in the media.

If you go into the beauty business with hopes of a comfortable life, then you may be in for a hard shock.

Running a business has its good time and tough moments, and you may become overwhelmed once in a while.

Don’t Focus on the Negatives

Starting a business can be scary, especially when it is your first time. Fears and challenges will hound you.  But you shouldn’t let them get the best of you.

Focus on Productivity

Many people confuse being busy with being productive. It is so easy to confuse both in the cosmetology industry too.

Always set clear goals and don’t consider your day done until you have completed them.


Having a cosmetology degree alone qualifies you for a career in cosmetology. But there are additional skills you have to possess to make it in the business.


Creativity is the number one requirement in the cosmetology industry.

This industry is all about setting trends and creating unique looks with existing trends. Creativity sets you apart from others and gives you a bigger platform.


As creative as you are, if you are not consistent with your excellent work, the beauty industry will leave you behind. Trends are always changing, so you have to be able to adapt to new trends as they happen.

Customer Service

Considering the nature of the job, you need to be a people’s person and possess basic communication and listening skills.

Most of your interaction is with customers, and a bad review can affect you in a big way and limit people that want to support your brand.

Kelly Wood, an expert cosmetologist, says you should leave your life stress and emotions apart from your job.


There is no success without hard work, so you have to be ready to dig in your heels and work hard.

You may see yourself attending to several customers a day, so you need to be prepared to tackle that when it comes.


As long as you have the eye for beauty and aesthetics, you can build a thriving business off of your cosmetology degree.

The best thing about this career is that it allows you to harness your creativity and uniqueness into a passion.

There are several career paths you can go into with a cosmetology degree, so the sky is your limit.

What Are Your Career Options in the Cosmetology Field

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