Cosmetic and Personal Care Services

If you love to help people look their best, you may want to consider a career in cosmetic and personal care services. Earning a degree or certificate in cosmetology as well as a state license qualifies you to work in a variety of careers in cosmetology and personal care services.

Are Cosmetic and Personal Care Services for Me?

Career Details

If you are interested in being a barber, cosmetologist, manicurist, pedicurist or skin care specialist, the cosmetic and personal care services field is for you. These professionals are dedicated to making people look their best and are in high demand. Earning an associate degree or certificate in cosmetology from a community college or technical school can help you enter these professions. Most programs take 1-2 years to complete - sometimes less - and are tailored to teach you everything you need to know to pass your state's licensing examination. After completing the degree or certificate program, you will need to take your state licensing exam to start working.


Jobs you can apply for after earning a cosmetology degree or certificate, as well as your state license, include barber, cosmetologist, hair dresser, nail technician and skin care specialist. Barbers and hairdressers shampoo, cut, color and style hair and often advise clients on how to take care of their hair at home as well. Some tasks require them to work with chemicals.

Nail technicians care for nails on the fingers and toes and place artificial nails. They might decorate the nails with polish or nail art and advise on how to take care of nails at home. Skin care specialists perform facials and massages, remove unwanted hair and apply makeup. They might also advise clients on how to apply makeup at home.

Cosmetologists are trained to work with hair, nails and skin care. The only employment requirements at most salons are a degree or certificate in cosmetology and a state license. Degree programs offer hands-on practical experience, so you have something to put on your resume before you finish the program. You could also open your own shop or study to become a cosmetology instructor.

Required Skills and Qualities

Other skills and traits that will help you become a successful cosmetologist include a clean and professional personal appearance, good communication skills, the ability to be polite even when customers become rude and a steady hand. Business skills are also important, as well as being able to follow directions. A keen sense of fashion and attention to the latest trends in hair and makeup are also important.

Employment Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the outlook for this profession is good, with employment expected to grow as fast as the average ( Professionals in the personal care field are expected to see a 13% increase in demand between 2012 and 2022. The median salary in 2013 for barbers was reported to be $25,010, hairdressers and cosmetologists earned $23,140, nail technicians earned $19,340 and skincare specialists earned $28,940. Some larger salons and spas also have shampooers, who reported a median salary of $18,510 in 2012. Jobs should be plentiful due to the increased demand for these services, and if there are no employment opportunities in your area, there is always the possibility of setting up your own salon.

How Can I Work In Cosmetic and Personal Care Services?

Education and Licensing for Practitioners

An associate degree or certificate program in cosmetology can help you enter a profession in cosmetic and personal care. These programs include coursework in subjects like hair and scalp care, hair design, chemical services, waxing, nail care, salon management, facial treatments, hair color and cosmetology services. After completing these programs, you'll take a licensing examination from your state to become a licensed cosmetologist. Examinations vary by state but usually consist of a written section and a practical section, where you work directly on a client.

Education and Licensing for Instructors

If you are more interested in becoming a cosmetology instructor, some schools offer special programs that provide the required training. These programs include coursework in cosmetology theory and practice, lesson planning, instructional materials and cosmetology supervision. Even if you plan only to teach cosmetology rather than practice it, you must still meet your state's cosmetology licensing requirements.

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