Working as a Cosmetologist

After going through beauty school and earning your cosmetology license, you are ready to enter the world as a working cosmetologist. You may be curious about what it takes to find success in the industry, what type of environment you'd like to work in, and what specific tasks you'll be performing day-to-day. Luckily, the life of a cosmetologist is dynamic, and you'll be hard-pressed to find one that describes his or her job as dull and boring. Read on to learn what it's like to work in the cosmetology field.

What Does a Cosmetologist Do?

There are actually a number of cosmetology careers that one can enter into or specialize in, but in general, cosmetologists perform the following tasks:

  • Cutting, styling, and chemically treating hair
  • Skin and hair analysis
  • Basic relaxation/massage techniques involving the head, neck, shoulders, scalp, hands, and feet
  • Makeup application
  • Recommendation of products including cosmetics, hair care products, and skin care products
  • Nail technician services including manicures/pedicures, nail art, etc.

Other services they may offer include:

  • Eyelash or hair extensions
  • Reflexology
  • Aromatherapy
  • Theatrical or special event makeup/hair services
  • Facials
  • Wig styling
  • Waxing
  • Electrolysis
  • Corrective or specialty hair color application
  • Advanced skincare services such as microdermabrasion, LED light treatments, non-surgical facelifts, etc.

Keep in mind that some of these specialized services may require additional/special training or the supervision of a dermatologist or other doctor.

Where Do Cosmetologists Work?

Cosmetologists can be found wherever beauty services are required, including (but not limited to):

  • Hair salons
  • Spas
  • Nail parlors
  • Hotels/resorts
  • Department stores
  • Film or TV sets
  • Theatres
  • Mobile style services (providing services in clients' homes or onsite for weddings and events)
  • Beauty brands (as a sales representative or demonstrator)
  • Fashion industry (providing services for runway shows or magazine shoots)

Cosmetology Hours

Full-time cosmetologists generally work 40-hour work weeks, but can work more or less than that depending on their place of employment and circumstances. Part-time employment is also regularly available at most spas and salons. Most cosmetologists don't work a traditional "9 to 5" schedule, as some clients favor evening and weekend appointments. Those who want a more flexible schedule may opt to become self-employed and/or open up their own salon.

Most cosmetologists should remember that they will typically spend most of their working time on their feet (or seated if they are providing nail services). Making sure you are healthy enough to endure long hours standing or sitting is an important aspect to consider.

Working Conditions

There are many positives to being a cosmetologist; you get to help people look and feel beautiful, help instill self-confidence, and utilize your creativity. In addition to this, you get the benefits of forming lasting relationships with clients and co-workers, and socializing is an inherent part of the job. There are, however, a few things that all cosmetologists should be aware of about their working environments.

  • Working with chemicals. These can pose some health risks, so great care should be taken with things like hair color, nail treatments, and other services where hazardous chemicals are used. Some cosmetologists develop allergies, dermatitis, or other health issues due to the repeated exposure to these chemicals.
  • Loud Environments. Successful salons may be filled with other stylists and clients. Talking, ringing phones, and loud equipment such as hair dryers may make the environment feel a bit chaotic.
  • Stamina. Because cosmetologists complete so many physical tasks and are typically on their feet all day, a high amount of stamina is needed. Busy cosmetologists may have appointments booked back to back, making it even more important to have a high level of energy.