Cosmetologist Job Description

Cosmetologist job descriptionAnyone who's ever had a really, really good haircut can tell you that it makes a big difference. Feeling good about the way you look gives you an air of confidence that touches all parts of your life, personal and professional.

Are you ready to help make the world a more beautiful place? Cosmetologists do exactly that; they use hair styles, nail services, hair removal and makeup application to help clients look and feel their best. In larger salons you may specialize in a single area; smaller shops will either provide specific services or ask their employees to be multi-talented.

Job Skills & Requirements

Education: Requirements vary widely by employer. High-end salons will require education for almost every position from stylist to shampooers, whereas quick service locations may only require a training program for stylists. Many postsecondary and vocational schools offer personal appearance training, and there are a large number of trade schools for cosmetology nationwide. Training programs last nine months on average, and sometimes offer job placement or internship opportunities.

Aesthetic sense: You should have a keen sense for what looks good on individual people. A desire to help each client look his or her best is key, and you can apply your creativity to keep your clients happy.

Customer Service: While it's important to know what looks good, you also have to balance that with making your customers happy. Customer service is a major part of what cosmetologists do - you can give your client the finest haircut ever, but if they don't like it, it's no good.

Endurance: You will be on your feet all day if you are a stylist, or seated if you are a manicurist. Whatever the case, you'll be in the same position almost all day; be sure to wear comfortable shoes and stretch often.

Expected Hours

Hours are usually weighted heavily toward nights and weekends, but that depends on the clients. If your salon services a large number of stay-at-home moms, your busiest hours may be during the day when kids are at school. If the nine-to-five crowd is your client base, you can expect to be slammed during lunch hours and after work. Either way, most cosmetologists work 40 hours per week on average.

If you want to focus on the sales aspect of cosmetics, you can find work with more flexible hours working from home for companies like AVON.

Dress the Part

Many salons have a standard all-black dress code. A black suit is nearly a universally great selection for salon interviews; but there are exceptions to every rule. Some shops have a particular niche market, so it's always safest to scope out the location before your interview to see what everyone is wearing, then dress up a step above that. Show up to an edgy alternative salon in a suit and you may be written off as too stuffy (unless you've dressed it up with your own expressive style).

Job Myth

“Anyone can paint nails and cut hair, I've been doing it since I was a teenager!”

Giving your best friend raggedy bangs at a sleepover when you were 16 (no, I haven't let that go yet) does not mean you are cut out to style hair. Selecting the right style for each client (and having the skill to complete it) is only the first part. Respecting their guidelines - and sometimes managing to figure out what those guidelines are - requires finesse with people, not just scissors.

You'll need the social skills to deal with all types of people, from folks who just point vaguely at their hair, to people who use you as a stand-in for their best friend, sharing everything from their relationship woes to questions about that strange spot on the back of their neck. Cosmetologists take that all in stride; coaxing conversation out of shy clients, and listening empathetically to chatty ones. You have the power to make people feel not only attractive but important, and that's a big deal.

Career Paths

Extra Perks

  • Almost 45% are self employed
  • Flexible schedule

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