What Are the Typical Wages of a Cosmetologist?

A cosmetologist's wage depends on his or her specialty, which can include shampooing, makeup, pedicures, manicures and hair styling. Read on to learn about the typical wages based on different factors. Schools offering Culinary Arts degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

How a Cosmetologist Is Paid

Just over half of all cosmetologists in the United States are paid an hourly wage or regular salary by the salon, resort, spa or other site where they work. However, tips and commissions on services and cosmetic products may account for additional earnings. As a cosmetologist, your wage will be figured by totaling all you earn in services, product sales and tips, then subtracting the costs of your salon or rented booth, supplies, product stock, license fees and continuing education classes. Salary can be determined by a number of factors, such as area of specialty, experience and the extra income garnered by tips and commissions.

Important Facts about Careers as a Barber, Hairdresser, or Cosmetologist

Entry-Level EducationMinimum of a high school diploma; additional training in a state-licensed school or postsecondary vocational school required
Key SkillsCreative, knowledgeable of the latest trends; physical stamina; cleanliness and organization; time-management; communication
Licensing/CertificationRequired by state law to hold a license
Work Environment Self-employment; salons, resorts, spas, or hotels; must be able to tolerate the physical demands and chemical products used

Hourly Wage by Specialty

The field of cosmetology covers a wide variety of personal care occupations, from manicurists to make-up artists. The figures below, released in September 2015 by PayScale.com, show median hourly wages for a few of the occupations in the cosmetology field:

  • Pedicurist or Manicurist: $12.00
  • Hair stylist: $8.00
  • Barber: $11.00

Tips, Commissions and Overtime

A large part of your salary will be based on tips, commissions and overtime. According to an September 2015 report by Payscale.com, tips added $0.62 - $6.20 to hourly wages for cosmetologists, while hourly overtime was $0.41 - $54.15. In addition, workers earned up to an additional $28,455 in annual commission.

Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted a 13% growth in employment for barbers, hairdressers and cosmetologists from 2012-2022 (www.bls.gov). This is average growth when compared to all occupations. Competition for jobs will be strongest for positions in high-paying salons. Most employment openings will come from professionals leaving the field.

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