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Top 5 Careers in Cosmetology

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If you are considering a career as a cosmetologist or personal appearance worker, things look good for you. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this industry is growing faster than average with a projected growth of 20 percent by 2018. State regulations vary in terms of licensing and training, so check with your local agency if you are interested in one of these careers. The National Cosmetology Association has a great resource page for students in cosmetology degree programs and professionals who have a cosmetology license. If you are looking for a job where you can be self-employed, independent, social and creative, this kind of work is a great match for you. Read on for the top 5 careers in the cosmetology industry.

  1. Hairstylist. Hairstylists own salons, rent stations, or work on commission cutting and coloring hair. Many cosmetologists who go on to work as hairstylists choose to specialize in either cutting or coloring, which is common in large salons with a big workforce. Other stylists run their own businesses and have male and female clients and take on specialties like straightening or perming services, updos for wedding and special events, braids, dreadlocks, and extensions.
  2. Makeup artist or permanent makeup technician. Makeup artists work in theater, film, print, on the runway, in department and specialty stores, and for special occasions, transforming ordinary-looking people into gorgeous models or fantastic creatures. A makeup artist does not always need a cosmetology license, but they do always need an impressive portfolio. Makeup artists use their skills to analyze face shape and features to bring out the best and camouflage the worst. Permanent makeup technicians need additional training in blood-borne pathogens and often must register with the local department of public health before they can offer services like eyeliner, brow pigmentation, lip color and treatments to fade or camouflage scars.
  3. Nail technician. Acrylics, natural nails, pedicures and gel wraps are all the domain of the registered nail tech. Many times a nail technician has earned a certificate and license that are faster and easier to obtain than a full-fledged cosmetology license, and can prove just as lucrative. Nail techs clip and file finger and toenails, massage the hands, arms, calves and feet, and apply polish or artificial nails. They work long hours (including weekends), but enjoy high volume of clients and a constant need for their services.
  4. Esthetician. Estheticians, or aestheticians, earn a license that allows them to work exclusively with the skin. They remove hair with wax, electrolysis or lasers and apply body treatments to reduce cellulite or encourage blood flow. Estheticians typically perform facials, customized by skin type, during which they massage, exfoliate, extract blemishes and treat the skin with a mask or peel. Estheticians usually work in spas or salons, peaceful environments where their clients can relax.
  5. Barber. Barbers typically specialize in men’s haircuts, since they are the only members of this industry licensed to use a bare blade on the skin. They shave, trim, and shape hairlines, mustaches, beards and brows with clippers, shears and razor blades. Barbers hold a barbering license which is slightly different than a cosmetology license, but many of the same parameters of work apply: they typically own their own shops, work on commission or rent a chair; and must pay extra attention to the sanitation of their shop and their tools.

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