One of the first things people want to know about a job is how much it pays. A cosmetology salary can vary quite a bit, and we’ll dive into that on this page.
In general, a career as a cosmetologist can be very rewarding. Not only does it provide the opportunity to help people feel their best, but it can also be a very creative field. Cosmetologists use their skills to create unique looks for their clients, whether it be a new hairstyle, make-up application, or manicure. In addition, cosmetologists have the opportunity to work in a variety of settings, including salons, spas, and even cruise ships.
So if you’re looking for a career that is both creative and financially rewarding, then a career as a cosmetologist may be right for you. Let’s take a look at what it’s like to work as a cosmetologist and learn more about the factors that dictate a cosmetologist’s salary.
How to become a cosmetologist
To become a cosmetologist, you will need to complete a training program at a cosmetology school or do an apprenticeship under the guidance of a licensed professional.
During your training, you will learn about the different aspects of cosmetology, including hair styling, makeup application, and nail care. You will also have the opportunity to practice your skills with real clients. Once you have completed your training, you will need to pass licensure exams – usually a theory exam and a practical exam – in order to work as a cosmetologist.
In most states, cosmetologists are required to renew their licenses at least every two years, though it does vary from state to state. This usually requires filling out a form and paying the state’s renewal fee. Also, to maintain your license in some states you will also need to complete continuing education courses. Even if your state doesn’t require it, it’s often a good idea to take the occasional continuing ed course to keep your skills sharp and stay up to date on the latest health and safety regulations.
Learn more about how to become a cosmetologist.
How do cosmetologists get paid?
Pay for cosmetologists can vary based on their experience, location, and the type of establishment they work in. Many cosmetologists are paid an hourly wage plus tips, while others may receive a commission on the products they sell. Some salons also offer bonuses or other incentives for meeting certain goals. In general, cosmetologists earn a competitive wage and often have the opportunity to increase their income with experience.
Average hourly salary for a cosmetologist
The Bureau of Labor Statistics lumps hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists into one group when they report their data, so please keep that in mind. With this group the most recently reported average hourly wage is $17.30.
Average annual salary of a cosmetologist
The average annual salary for a cosmetologist according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics is $35,990. The median (seen at the 50% mark below) is lower than the statistical average, at $14.26.
Interestingly, the top-earning cosmetologists in the United States do substantially better than those further down the pay scale. Check out the percentiles in the table below to see just how well the top 10% of cosmetologists get paid.
|Hourly Wage||$ 10.03||$ 11.52||$ 14.26||$ 18.65||$ 28.40|
|Annual Wage||$ 20,860||$ 23,960||$ 29,670||$ 38,790||$ 59,070|
Average cosmetologist pay by state
|State||Hourly mean wage||Annual mean wage|
|District of Columbia||$34.87||$72,530|
Top-paying metro areas for cosmetologists
The top 50 paying metro areas for cosmetologists are listed below.
|Area Name||Hourly mean wage||Annual mean wage|
|Lansing-East Lansing, MI||$25.71||$53,470|
|Barnstable Town, MA||$25.30||$52,630|
|Upper Peninsula of Michigan nonmetropolitan area||$22.67||$47,150|
|Massachusetts nonmetropolitan area||$22.48||$46,750|
|Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI||$22.15||$46,070|
|Durham-Chapel Hill, NC||$21.62||$44,960|
|New Bedford, MA||$21.20||$44,090|
|Western Washington nonmetropolitan area||$21.13||$43,950|
|Urban Honolulu, HI||$21.03||$43,730|
|Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA||$20.33||$42,290|
|Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA||$20.20||$42,010|
|New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA||$19.67||$40,920|
|Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, FL||$19.36||$40,260|
|Lake Havasu City-Kingman, AZ||$19.14||$39,820|
|Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL||$19.10||$39,740|
|Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA||$19.08||$39,690|
|Santa Rosa, CA||$19.08||$39,680|
|Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA||$19.05||$39,620|
|Arizona nonmetropolitan area||$19.00||$39,520|
|Ann Arbor, MI||$18.88||$39,270|
|San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA||$18.85||$39,220|
|North Valley-Northern Mountains Region of California nonmetropolitan area||$18.74||$38,990|
|Fort Collins, CO||$18.64||$38,780|
|California-Lexington Park, MD||$18.64||$38,770|
How to increase your earning potential
There are a number of ways that a cosmetologist can increase their earning potential. One way is to offer additional services such as manicures and pedicures. Another way to increase earnings is to specialize in a certain area, such as hair coloring or skin care.
Cosmetologists can also increase their income by working in a salon that caters to a high-end clientele. In addition, cosmetologists can earn more money by working in a city or region with a higher cost of living.
Always be on the lookout for new trends and techniques that you can offer to your clients. Keeping up with the latest trends will show that you are an expert in your field, and it may even lead to additional opportunities such as working with fashion shows or photo shoots.
Finally, don’t be afraid to network with other professionals in the industry. Attend trade shows and events, and make sure to introduce yourself to as many people as possible. By taking these steps, you can significantly increase your earnings as a cosmetologist.
Job outlook for cosmetologists
The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts 11% growth for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists from 2021 through 2031. Why?
- Increased demand for general hair care services across the country
- Growing population
- Projected growth for more advanced hair care specialties like hair coloring and straightening
With an increased emphasis on personal appearance services, cosmetologists are positioned well for job stability in the coming years.
There’s more to being a cosmetologist than the pay. If you have more questions about this career path, check out our cosmetologist FAQ page to learn more.