Cosmetology covers a range of jobs, including hairdressers, barbers, manicurists and pedicurists, and skin care specialists. Cosmetologists are generally concerned with helping customers look neat and well-groomed. Hairdressers and barbers cut, shampoo, and style hair. Many also provide coloring and permanent wave treatments and other advanced hair care services. Manicurists and pedicurists work on nails. Skin care specialists offer skin care services.
Day-to-day duties include booking appointments, cleaning and sanitizing work areas and supplies, stocking and selling beauty products, and, of course, handling client requests. Cosmetologists who operate their own salons also have record keeping and managerial duties. Cosmetologists are expected to maintain a neat appearance. Since workers in the field depend on tips, it is important to be a good communicator and to enjoy working with people. Repeat business is an important source of good tips. Weekend and evening working hours are common; some cosmetologists only work part-time.
The field is expected to grow about as fast as average. About half of all personal appearance workers are self-employed, either owning their own shop or leasing space or a chair in a salon.
After graduation from an appropriate training program, cosmetology students take state licensing exams to become licensed. Entry-level workers are given simple projects at first, and then advance to complicated hairstyles and treatments. Continuing education courses are important to keep up with advances in the industry, and to advance in job position. Experienced cosmetologists often go on to open up their own business, and these workers need to gain business skills as well.