Massage Therapist Job Description

Massage therapist job descriptionInterested in a job that lets you spend your work hours bathed in soothing music, soft lighting and scented oils? Massage therapy offers some pretty sweet and exotic working conditions: flexible hours, calm work environments and a job that is focused entirely on relaxation and health.

Massage therapists manipulate the muscles and soft tissues of their clients to produce relaxation, improved health and other benefits. There are over 80 different types of massage, and many therapists specialize in more than one. Building a client base is vital, and while there are limited opportunities for advancement within the massage therapy industry, successful therapists build loyal clientele and raise their prices over time as demand for their services increase.

Job skills & requirements

Education: Most states require massage therapists to be licensed to practice. Massage therapy licensing varies from state to state, but if you live near a metropolitan area there is likely a trade school that could allow you to pursue certification.

Stamina: You're in contact (literally) with all sorts of clients, and many people are initially very uncomfortable with the process of massage therapy. Having a strong sense of compassion and great customer service skills is vital to enabling clients to feel comfortable and ultimately building a strong pool of customers that will support your salary.

Empathy: You'll need to keep up and pull your weight (and then some) day after day. Make sure you're physically up to the task before you sign up!

Hours: Since massage therapists must take breaks between sessions to avoid injury, and many drive to appointments (which means additional time for setting up a massage table or chair) working between 15-30 hours is considered full time. Many people work part time as massage therapists to supplement their income. Hours depend almost entirely on your client base: therapists for retirement homes, vacation spas and professional athletes may find they are busiest during the day; people who make their money massaging office workers and amateur sports players will likely be booked up after normal work hours and on weekends.

Dress the Part: For an interview, suit up - but bring a comfortable change of clothes in case you are asked to demonstrate your skills. Spas and clinics will probably have a dress code; in other work environments you may find that loose-fitting pants and shirts are standard work wear.

Job Myth

“Why do I have to get certified? I give a pretty mean back rub.”

In your circle of friends you might be to go-to person for sore necks or strained backs, but even then there are tons of things you need to learn before you become a professional massage therapist. How do you set up a massage table? How can you stop to get more oil without ever taking a hand off your client? (Tip: few things are less relaxing than being facedown with your eyes closed, and having no idea whether your massage therapist has wandered off somewhere. A good massage therapist will probably keep in physical contact so that doesn't happen.) Do you know about deep tissue Swedish massage? Hot stone therapy? Prenatal massage?


Then head off to massage therapy school, and hone that gift for giving a mean foot massage into something that can earn you a comfortable living.

Career Paths

  • Salon Manager (Averages $36,000 annually)

Similar Positions

Cosmetologist, Certified Nursing Assistant

Extra Perks

  • Staying active - This job will keep you on the move throughout the day
  • Self-employment potential

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Manicurist Job Description

Manicurist job descriptionManicurists need a steady hand and creative flair to keep fingertips fashionable and toes twinkling, but it's not all just picking polish. As with other personal care workers, manicurists are part fashion consultant, part therapist. You'll be listening to personal problems and juicy gossip all while creating tiny works of art with itty-bitty brushes, so being a people person is important. If you've worked in customer service before and you can't imagine holding hands with your worst customer for 15 minutes straight, with no possibility of escape, you may want to reconsider this one.

Most manicurists sit for the majority of their shift; this can be a relief for people used to standing for eight hours at a time, but keep in mind that it can be tough on your neck and back to bend over all day making manicure magic. If you are especially sensitive to fumes and chemicals you may also have trouble with the work environment; while many beauty salons are well ventilated, you will still be working closely with some seriously smelly polishes and potions all day long.

Job skills & requirements

License: Most states have individual licensing requirements for personal care professionals. Check with a local employer or cosmetology school to see what is required in your area.

Education: You can get additional certifications and training above any basic license required by your state, and this additional experience usually makes you a more desirable employee for upscale salons and translates to higher-paying jobs. Most areas have a local cosmetology school, beauty school or trade classes in personal care.

Endurance: This job includes sitting in the same position most of the day. You'll have breaks between clients to move and stretch, but if an old back injury or other physical condition prevents you from sitting comfortably with your neck bent, you may want to consider another career.

People skills: Everyone has their share of grumpy clients, and you will need to smile graciously, take them by the hand and make their nails look fabulous while they complain about their lives, the weather and possibly your services. If you have a short fuse or an unruly temper, this might not be the gig for you.

Fashion sense: Some clients know what they want; others will want you to offer suggestions on the color they'll be sporting for the next week or two. So if you like to keep up with trends and fashion, you'll be well-positioned to pair your customers with the perfect polish at every appointment.

Expected Hours:

Many manicurists work 40 or more hours per week. Salons are frequently open during the workday and well into the evening - when the nine-to-five crowd has time to sit down and relax.

Dress the Part:

Some employers distribute uniforms; others have a standard dress code you will be asked to follow. For interviews, arrive looking professional. A suit or dress slacks paired with a nice shirt is a sure bet for almost any interview. Black is usually a safe color to wear for salons, many rely on an all-black or mostly-black wardrobe as part of their employee dress guidelines.

Job myth

“Sitting down and painting fingernails? This will be easy.”

If you still think manicurists have it made, reread the job description. Sure, there's a good chance you'll be seated in a pleasant environment with quietly chatting customers, but those perks come packaged with chemicals in the air, constantly bending over and being up close and personal with each and every client. It's a great job, but it's healthy to recognize the good with the bad before you get started. On the other hand, if you've taken a realistic look at what being a manicurist entails and you still have a passion for polish, what are you waiting for?

Career paths

  • Cosmetologist (Averages $22,760/year)
  • Shampooer (Averages $18,270/year)

Similar positions

Hairstylist, Cosmetologist

Extra perks

  • Opportunities for self-employment
  • Flexible schedule

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Hairstylist Job Description

Hairstylist job descriptionJob highlights

  • On average, hairstylists make around $11 per hour
  • 44 percent of hairstylists and barbers are self employed
  • You'll need to complete a licensing program

What do hairstylists do?

If you don't know what a hairstylist does you are either bald or a hippie. If you find yourself in one of those categories, you may have a difficult time attracting a steady clientele. If, however, you find yourself among the normal hair-cutting population, and you have a passion for coffieur-ing, have at it.

A true hair stylist is equal parts artist and psychologist. You'll need to be outgoing and able to strike up a conversation with just about anyone to be successful in a hairstylist job. Hairstylists and barbers stand nearly all day, so you'll need to be physically able to perform the job. Hairstylist jobs can be demanding, as you'll be cutting, shaving, trimming, styling and washing hair all day long, so the ability to multitask will be important. You don't want to face the fiery wrath of a woman with purple hair left under the dryer too long or a man with a chunk taken out of the back of his head with the clippers. It won't be pretty (literally).

How much do hairstylists make?

The average hourly pay for all Hairstylists is about $11 per hour, but will vary by experience and location. Experienced hairstylists with established clientele can earn up to $20 per hour. Most hairstylists make a large portion of their wages through some combination of an hourly wage, tips and commission. You'll need to be upbeat and friendly with every client if you want to find yourself on the higher end of the pay scale.

What are the education requirements?

Every state requires all barbers and hairstylists to be licensed. The licensure process typically requires a high school diploma or GED and graduation from a cosmetology school that is licensed by the state. After completing the school coursework, most states require a written or practical exam for certification.

Career paths for hairstylists

Nearly half (44 percent) of all hairstylists and barbers are self employed by owning their own shops or leasing booths in salons. Because of this, advancement in the hair industry usually just means making more money by getting better and building your clientele. Those who aren't self employed can move into more senior positions with higher hourly and styling rates.

The future of hairstylists

The BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) expects a huge increase in Hairstylist positions over the 2008-2018 decade. Demand for hairstylists and barbers will increase with the population, as with most positions. In addition to the predicted growth, as the baby boomer generation ages (translation: gets more gray hair) there will be an increasing demand for talented stylists who can cut and color their hair to keep them looking young. Extra points if you can minimize the appearance of thinning hair.

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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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Esthetician Job Description

Esthetician job descriptionBeauty is big business, and estheticians make their money keeping clients gorgeous. Estheticians provide skin treatments, hair removal and other processes that help men and women maintain their personal appearance and boost self-esteem. Work environment can vary from sterile to spa like, and plush resorts to home-based businesses. This flexibility gives estheticians the freedom to work almost anywhere they can find enough clients.

Career advancement is limited, but additional certifications in new technologies like laser hair removal and microdermabrasion can increase demand for your skills (and your salary!). With management training, you could also consider going into business for yourself. You will need training and a license, but jobs are growing much faster than average.

How much do estheticians make?

  • Average of $13.81 per hour
  • Around $37,000 average salary for full-time positions

Job Skills & Requirements

Education: Esthetician licensure and certification requirements vary from state to state, but if you live near a metropolitan area it's likely you can pursue certification a trade school near you.

Technical Skill: It's not just knowing how, it's knowing how and being really good at it. Estheticians perform complex beauty procedures on clients who are probably sensitive about their appearance (or they probably wouldn't be paying an esthetician in the first place!). You'll need extensive knowledge of skin types, potential allergies and other complications that may arise from treatments so that you can make expert recommendations for each client.

Empathy: Beauty professionals deal with all sorts of people: clients may be sensitive about their appearance, unable to express exactly the results they're looking for, demanding, nervous or all of these and more. You need to keep your cool and still perform like the knowledgeable professional you are!

Expected Hours

Estheticians vary between part-time and full-time hours. Many work only nights and weekends when their clients are available; others at salons, spas or resorts with a steady clientele will work throughout the day. Flexible hours are common, so if you don't like the schedule at your entry-level esthetician gig, don't despair – there are plenty of chances to change hours when you change employers (especially if that new employer is you)!

Dress the Part

For your interview, wear a pant or skirt suit. Tastefully understated accessories, makeup and grooming are a good idea since knowledge of fashion and beauty is an asset for estheticians. For workdays, spas and clinics will probably have a dress code; often that just means black dress slacks and a nice shirt, but each employer will vary.

Job Myth

“What's the difference between an esthetician and a cosmetologist?”

That's a tricky one, because they do both deal with skin care. Cosmetologists are usually trained in nail, skin and hair care while estheticians focus completely on skin care technique. This often means that estheticians have a deeper knowledge of skin care treatments than cosmetologists, but curricula will vary from school to school and standards change from state to state, so do your homework before choosing the program for you - unless you really like skin care and have an extreme aversion to hair and nails. Then it's pretty safe to stick with esthetics.

Career Paths

Similar Positions

Cosmetologist, Certified Nursing Assistant

Extra Perks

  • Always knowing the best way to shape your eyebrows
  • Self-employment potential

See all job descriptions