If you have turned 17 and wondering what career to choose, then a career in cosmetology is an option worth considering. This is a career opportunity in which jobs are always available for trained and licensed professionals, and the growth outlook is projected to be high, for the next decade or so. Pay initially starts at around $11 to $15 per hour a median income of about $23,330 per year. As you gain in experience in your cosmetology career, you can strike out on your own and your income will rise to match your experience and customer base.

What does it take to get started on the road to a cosmetology career? In most states you have to be 17 years of age and have a license. Some states require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. The course itself takes about twelve months. Most states require that personal appearance workers, which include hairstylists, hairdressers and cosmetologists, must be licensed. You have to undergo a state approved program in cosmetology and after that you must pass a state administered licensing examination. There are separate exams for allied fields such as manicurists, pedicurists and skin care specialists. You can study for your career in cosmetology part time. You can also opt to train and take multiple licenses in allied fields. Remember, the more areas you are trained and licensed, the higher will be your earnings and greater will be your value in the job market.

What sort of work environment can you expect? This is a line of work in which you are directly dealing with customers. Pleasing manners and a warm, friendly nature on your part will see customers specifically asking for you to attend to them. Good client relationship and communication skills are a must because you will experience a wide range of personalities with the occasional difficult customer. Cosmetologists generally work in an atmosphere where friendly and stimulating conversation is the norm rather than the exception. However, you have to remember to treat customer information as confidential at all times.

Depending on your specialization, some of the duties of a cosmetologist are:

• Hair cutting and styling of hair or hair pieces.

• Dye, bleach or tint hair.

• Combing and brushing hair and the application of spray to set the style.

• Massage and scalp treatment.

• Advise a patron to seek treatment for chronic or contagious scalp problems.

• Give advice and application of various cosmetics to enhance looks.

• Shaping eyebrows and removing facial hair.

• Manicure and pedicure.

• Updates and maintains customer information records.

As your experience and expertise increase, you can think in terms of starting your own business by opening a salon or start a home based business. You could become a teacher in a barber or cosmetology school. Or you could become a sales representative for cosmetics companies. You could also become an image consultant and help your client have an image makeover. Remember in this line of work, a satisfied customer tends to be loyal and your client list will grow. A cosmetology career is well worth considering since it gives job satisfaction and has a lot of potential for employment and growth.


The Gene Juarez Academy, started in 1987, is the top producing cosmetology and beauty career training program in Washington State. Gene Juarez Academy cosmetology graduates are the most sought after in the Pacific Northwest. Their web site can be found at www.genejuarezacademy.edu.

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