Salary of a Cosmetologist

Cosmetology has always been a popular field for several reasons. Not only does it have nearly unlimited growth potential, but the amount a person can earn varies greatly. If a cosmetologist sets up in a good location and is sufficiencly skilled, he or she can expect to make $50,000 or more per year.

Average Salary

Cosmetologist salary is, on average, around $27,530 per year. There are an estimated 351,960 cosmetologists currently employed within the United States. Those working in the entertainment industry make the most, with average salaries of between $56,000 and $65,000 per year. However, a reasonably skilled cosmetologist who advertises properly and opens their own location can expect to see anywhere from $30,000 to $45,000 per year.

The services a cosmetologist offers also affects their income potential. Someone who only does nails can earn quite a bit, as can someone who only does hair. Both fields are the most in-demand areas of cosmetology, and those who specialize can charge higher rates for higher quality services.


The requirements to become a cosmetologist vary by state. Most all states require at least a high school diploma or GED equivalent. After this, there are numerous choices to pick from in regard to cosmetology schools. However, all students will need to pass the licensing exam in their state – and any other state they want to practice in – over the basic skills like hair, nails, safety, sanitation, and makeup. There are also schools that a student can attend that focus on one area in particular, rather than the overall field of cosmetology as a whole. Someone most interested in doing nail art would likely benefit from going to a nail-focused school rather than one that centers around hair.

Certification can take as much as 9 to 15 months, depending on the program. After certification, an apprenticeship with a more experienced cosmetologist is usually standard. This prepares the student to embark on their own career path.


Training hours vary by state, but between 1000 and 2300 hours of training are standard. These training hours provide hands-on practice with all the necessary skills, allowing the student to develop his or her personal style and excel in their career. The better a person becomes at the basics, the better they become overall. Mastery of the basics is one of the most important requirements of certification.

To find out the specific amount of hours required for your state, contact the state’s licensing department. They can provide you with the information you need to make a decision about whether cosmetology is the right field for you.

Cosmetologists have the potential to earn a very comfortable living, but the field isn’t necessarily easy to get into. It rewards those who can provide excellent customer service, while punishing those who do just enough to get by. However, if someone devotes themselves to the work and practices diligently, they will succeed.

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