Interested in a career in cosmetology? This article includes a cosmetologist job description and the requirements and tasks of the job, along with everything you need to know about how to become a cosmetologist. The beauty industry is booming even in times of economic crisis, as people seem to enjoy their little luxuries even when they have to make major budget cuts elsewhere, so becoming a cosmetologist means entering an industry with good expectations for work in the long run. If you love style, hair and makeup, this career choice could have a lot of potential for you!
Cosmetologist Job Description
Table Of Contents
A cosmetologist is somebody who provides a variety of beauty services to customers, either at a salon or at their own homes. This can include hair treatments, from shampooing and blow drying to styling, cutting and coloring. But a cosmetologist can also work with nails as a manicurist, or provide skin care services. Applying wigs and hair extensions is also a popular job for a cosmetologist, and most people will learn a wide variety of skills over their career even if they specialize in Hair, Skincare or Makeup.
Most cosmetologists will have advanced courses and certifications on particular topics, such as hair coloring methods, often provided by the manufacturers of the products used. This increases the quality of service for the customer, and the cosmetologist’s salary and work expectations.
Along with actually applying treatments and performing cosmetic services for clients, a cosmetologist will also be trained in the sanitization and upkeep of their tools.
How to Become a Cosmetologist
In order to work as a cosmetologist you will need a diploma from an accredited school. You can get this diploma through a vocation school, or from an associate’s degree at a community college, but you will at the very least your high school diploma (GED) to get started. If you want to start working as a cosmetologist as soon as possible, going through a vocational school can take less than a year (usually a full school course, or about 9 months) whereas an associate’s degree will take you at least two years of full-time study.
In order to become a licensed cosmetologist you will need to pass state board examinations when you finish your studies, and pay the corresponding fees. Those exams are usually a mix of written and oral theory examinations and a practical test. Once you are licensed as a cosmetologist you can start working, but expect to keep on studying and learning. You will most likely need to get renewals, re-certifications and possibly continuous learning courses depending on what products or services you want to use. For example, if you want to specialize in hair extensions there will likely be manufacturer-specific courses to train you in the correct application of their bonding products.
If you intend to work as a freelancer or independent stylist, it pays to take some subjects in topics such as business administration during your education, as they will come in handy when you decide to work for yourself.
Personal Skills You’ll Need to Be a Great Cosmetologist
Being a beauty professional means dealing with people for most of your work day, and so your interpersonal skills need to be of high standard. Even if you love the idea, you won’t enjoy this job unless you like people a lot. A great stylist not only has the skills, but also the ability to understand what the customer actually wants, and to guide them into choosing a beauty treatment or style that really makes them leave the salon feeling like a new (and better!) version of themselves.
Some of the things you will need that no beauty school can teach you are:
- Creativity: This job is perfect if you enjoy being creative with hair and makeup, but still able to follow a brief or client request without letting your personal preferences win.
- Understanding and Patience: You will need great customer skills to excel at this job. From being able to tell a customer that something is not a good idea, to figuring out what somebody really means with “just cut as much as you think is right”.
- Attention to detail: You will be doing things that require a lot of attention to detail even after long hours at the job. From mixing dye to applying delicate makeup to your customer’s eyelids, you really need to be that person that aims to get it perfect, every time.
- Listening skills: It’s a fact, often people go to the beauty salon to enjoy themselves and talk. A great cosmetologist, that one that is always in demand and gets regular clients coming back is somebody who can become a friend. That often involves a lot of listening and not so much talking.
- Discretion: Your clients, whether they are just regular customers or celebrities at a photo-shot, will be spending a lot of time with you and often will say things they expect remain private. A gossiping cosmetologist is something nobody really likes.
- Stamina: You need to be in good shape to be a cosmetologist. You will be working long hours on your feet, whether you work at a salon or become a fashion stylist for magazine shoots.
A Typical Cosmetologist’s To-Do List
A cosmetologist is a bit like the jack of all trades of the beauty industry. You may start your day helping a bride get ready for her big day with masterful makeup and hair styling, and finish it doing a facial or a pedicure. Here are some of the things you may find yourself doing:
Cosmetologist Work With Hair
Cut, color and style are the mainstays of a cosmetologist job if they work at a hair salon, and you will learn a lot about hair during your training. Cosmetologists not only know how to work with hair, they also know about the physiological nature of it and how it can be affected by medications, health conditions or previous hair processing. As a cosmetologist you will learn about health and safety of the products and application methods you use. Most beauty schools will also extensive train their students in hair cutting and blow drying techniques, as well as hair washing and basic treatments. However, if you start working on a large salon chain expect further training on the particular services offered by your employer.
Skin Treatments and Cosmetology
In order to become a cosmetologist you will also need to learn how to perform facials and assess the status of your customer’s skin. Being able to identify and possibly treat minor skin conditions is a large part of becoming a specialist in skin cosmetology, and constant learning on new techniques is almost a must. Many salons also expect cosmetologists to be able to perform complex treatments using electronics such as laser depilation or even Botox and other injectable treatments.
Nails and Makeup
Many cosmetologists choose to specialize in hair and makeup, probably because it’s one of the most creative sides of the job and allows for freelancing and working with the editorial and fashion industry. If you have the talent and the endurance to work your way up the ladder you can expect a highly exciting career. However, on your way to it you may need to fix some terrible feet and apply more bridal makeup you would ever want to.
It is difficult to produce a universal cosmetologist job description as the real duties you will have if you decide to become a cosmetologist can be extremely varied. It is a perfect job if you are creative, love working with people and learning about an industry that keeps growing and growing year after year, following new fashion trends and science advances in terms of skincare and hair care.