Exploring the Cosmos of Cosmetology Jobs

August 25, 2023

Considering a “creative career” but not sure what kind of job to pursue? Cosmetology jobs open a dynamic portal for blending artistic interpretation with social interaction and endless opportunities to evolve as a “creative type.”

What is cosmetology, and what kind of cosmetology jobs are available? What should you look for in a cosmetology educator and consider when selecting a beauty school? Below, we take a closer look at a cosmetology job description and look at some factors to consider when selecting a cosmetology program. We’ll even explore the “orchids” (great things) and “onions” (not so great aspects) of each career. Finally, we’ll also consider several influences that are transforming cosmetology jobs in interesting ways.

What is cosmetology and how do you become a cosmetologist?

First things first, let’s define “cosmetologist.” After all, not many of us say we’re going to the “cosmetologist” when we visit a salon or spa. The cosmos of cosmetology covers a wide range of careers and a cosmetology program should provide instruction on hairstyling (cutting, color, styling, and an array of treatments and therapies), skincare basics, makeup, and  nail care. Collectively a cosmetology education provides the foundation for a skilled artist who enhances a person’s appearance, boosting their confidence and brightening their day.

Beyond teaching the theory of cosmetology, most beauty schools (or cosmetology school – the two terms are interchangeable) programs will also provide students with an opportunity to gain practical experience. As a student moves through the program, he or she will get to put their skills to work serving clients under the supervision of a licensed beauty professional – often a cosmetology educator.

A solid cosmetology education goes beyond theory and practical skill development to integrate soft skills such as customer service, retailing, marketing, and financial literacy. Cosmetology careers are deeply relational, so it is important to understand the social skills that will help a new cosmetology professional build a book of business, retain clients and generate referrals. As many cosmetology educators have worked in salons, spas, or barbershops, they are well suited to offer expert guidance from the “real world.” A cosmetology educator can also help students cultivate experience by encouraging them to participate in competitions while still students. For example, a student at Bellus Academy took home top place honors in the 2021 Beauty Envision Awards 

Careers to consider in cosmetology

A few  popular cosmetology careers are highlighted below:

Hairstylists Careers

There is no single job description when it comes to the career of cosmetologist. However, every business sector has its “poster child.” When it comes to the professional beauty industry, hairstyling is the poster child career. Hairstylists are proficient at leveraging precision cutting techniques, applying complex chemistries to achieve just the right hues, tones and highlights, and sculpting hairstyles that draw on influences from architecture, fashion, entertainment, and social movements. When a celebrity rocks a new hairstyle on the red carpet, it’s a sure bet that hairstylists’ phones will start “blowing up” with questions from clients about how to achieve the same look.

Orchids: Some of the most pleasurable aspects of being a hairstylist include:

  • Being part of life’s big moments (weddings, proms, award ceremonies)
  • Physical activity – you won’t be stuck at a desk job
  • Flexibility – hairstylists can set their own hours. And as many salons are not open on Sunday, you won’t face the Sunday scaries!

Onions: These aspects of the job may not make you cry, but may take some getting used to:

  • Always being “on”. When you’re in a customer-centric position, you’ve got to stay positive. Every day. And just as there is no “crying in baseball,” there are “no bad hair days” as a hairstylist. You’ll have to put your best face (and hair) forward even on the days you’re tired or feeling less than 100%.
  • Standing on your feet. Working as a hairstylist means lots of time standing. Hairstylists learn quickly to find beauty in a good pair of comfortable shoes.
  • Weekends and evenings are often busy times in salons. When Saturday evening rolls around, you may find yourself wanting to stay home after a busy day at the shop.

Makeup Artisans

Whether a client prefers a natural “bridal beauty” look or a futuristic makeup look to complement a fashion collection, makeup artists are transformation specialists. Beyond spas, salons and fashion venues, makeup artists also work in the entertainment sector, using skills and techniques to meet the demands of high-definition TV and film. Many makeup pros work in special effects where hair and makeup often work together to create a director’s desired effect.

Orchids: Some of the most pleasurable aspects of being a makeup artist include:

  • A fresh challenge every time. As every client that sits in your chair is unique and has their own vision of what they’d like to achieve, every makeup application brings a new challenge.
  • Innovation. New products are constantly being launched. As a makeup artist, you’ll be among the first to experiment with new formulations, product lines and treatment therapies.
  • Glamour. Fashion, awards ceremonies, and the entertainment industry bring proximity to the intrigue of celebrities, fashion and the exclusivity of industry icons.

Onions: These aspects of the job may not make you cry but may take some getting used to.

  • Boredom. On a busy film set, makeup artists may be waiting for hours for a scene to wrap.
  • Night owl hours. Makeup artists working in theater may find their workday doesn’t begin until office hours are ending. This may not be the career for early birds.
  • Unpredictable schedules. A job may last only as long as a performance or engagement is onstage.

Cosmetology Jobs as An Educator

Hairstylists who have mastered the art and science of technology may opt to consider cosmetology instructor jobs. For students and instructors alike, lifelong learning is the cornerstone of careers in the beauty industry. Cosmetology teacher jobs range from basic beauty school to advanced education presented at national and international beauty venues. Educators pass on to the next generation of cosmetology beauty professionals their talent, skills, and wisdom.

Cosmetology Jobs Have Long-Lasting Impact

And when they’re not on the stage or in front of the classroom, some cosmetology educators share their expertise on social media platforms such as TikTok and YouTube. Other cosmetology educators team up with product manufacturers to “tech” how to use products for best effect. It’s worth keeping in mind that every beauty and wellness professional will have a cosmetology teacher job to some degree, given that teaching clients how to maintain their salon look at home is part of the cosmetologist’s job.  The job of cosmetology instructor is well-suited for those who want to make a long-lasting impact on the lives of others. Cosmetology educator jobs are not just about teaching technical skills, but inspiring future professionals, instilling confidence and helping others embark on their own creative journeys.

Orchids: Some of the most pleasurable aspects of being a cosmetology educator include:

  • Fresh starts. Every class start date will bring a fresh class of students, excited about starting the journey toward their dream career.
  • Travel: Cosmetology educators who present at industry shows enjoy participating in high-energy environments.
  • Making a difference: Educators find their passion by helping students become their very best. Whether a student is 18 or 48, cosmetology educators get to be part of the student’s journey toward a ream career.

Onions: These aspects of the job may not make you cry, but may take some getting used to:

  • Constantly being “on”. As a source of inspiration for future students, you can’t bring a bad hair day into the classroom.
  • Fatigue. For educators who travel, work weekend or evening shifts, after-hours responsibilities can be draining.
  • Diplomatic duties. Educators must deal with the same politics and grievances that teachers in other environments encounter as friction may occur between students.

Nail Artist

Professional nail artists combine precision artwork with creative inspiration to achieve intricate designs, dazzling extensions, and fingertip fashion. Working in spas, salons, fashion, airports and across the resort landscape, nail professionals enjoy tremendous flexibility in terms of mobility and setting their own hours.

Orchids: Some of the most pleasurable aspects of being a cosmetology educator include:

  • Artistic challenge. The client wants an Eiffel Tower on her thumbnail? Nail techs can “up their game” every day.
  • Fun products. When it comes to innovative names, beautiful colors, and fantastical formulations, it’s hard to top the nail industry. Who doesn’t like a polish name like “That’s Not My Waitress” or “Susie Likes Cowboys?”
  • Repeat business. As long as nails continue to grow, clients will continue to visit the salon or spa for a nail service.

Onions: These aspects of the job may not make you cry but may take some getting used to.

  • Foot fears. Not everyone is “hands down” OK when it comes to working with feet. The pedicure soaking basin sees all shapes, sizes, and nuances of feet. Men’s baseball team comes in for a post-game pedicure? You’ve got to smile as the sneakers come off.
  • Nail dust. Salons that use that use drills typically have dust in the environment. Wearing a mask may be a perpetual part of your day.
  • Sedentary workday. Nail techs sit at their station for extended periods. It’s important to make time for breaks during the day.

How the industry continues to evolve

The professional beauty industry and the cosmetology jobs it offers continue to evolve in interesting ways that reflet the changing ethos of society and the world around us. Following are some of the most interesting trends in 2023.

Sustainability: Eco-friendly products and services are important to many consumers; and especially to Gen Z. From recycling containers to vegan formulations, cosmetology jobs continue to become ever more green – regardless of the client’s hair color.

Digital platforms: The era of social media has provided a new platform of equality when it comes to sharing content and marketing businesses. Cosmetologists savvy in the ways of social marketing can quickly start or accelerate the trajectory of their business. It’s important to select a cosmetology program that covers the basics of social media marketing.

Diversity and inclusion: Beauty – including cosmetology – has always been at the forefront of celebrating diversity and inclusivity. Embracing all ethnicities, gender identities and social values, the professional beauty industry epitomizes the beauty of diversity.

Wellness (physical and mental): Simply stated, there can be no beauty without wellness. Conversations about wellness are increasingly part of the conversation whether at cosmetology conferences or in the classroom.

Paying it forward: Giving back to the next generation is interwoven into the DNA of the beauty industry. Beauty Changes Lives is a non-profit that equips and empowers future beauty and wellness professionals. Since its inception in 2013, Beauty Changes Lives has changed more than 1,200 lives through the gift of tuition scholarships and mentoring. The non-profit provides scholarships for basic and advanced education. In fact, several cosmetology educators have received advanced education courtesy of a Beauty Changes Lives Award.

What’s the Next Step?

Now that we’ve reviewed various careers – including the “orchid” and “onion” elements of each, the next step becomes pursuing an education. Recognizing the fluidity of work, school and life in a post-pandemic world, cosmetology schools offer a blend of evening and day classes, including in-person and hybrid education.

When evaluating a cosmetology school, some questions to ask include:

  • What are some alumni success stories? Be sure to ask about the careers of alumni. Have they been recognized with industry awards? Has their work been featured on leading social media sites in the industry? Is there an opportunity for you to speak with these students?
  • What are the credentials of cosmetology instructors? Ask about the experience instructors have gained outside of the classroom, and any awards they’ve received.
  • What support is provided beyond the curriculum? Competitions, industry shows and guest presentations by leaders in the industry can provide valuable networking opportunities and set students up for success the moment they graduate.

Don’t limit your questions to those posted above. A Bellus Academy career advisor can answer these questions and any others that come to mind. Contact a Bellus Academy career advisor today and learn how to begin your career adventure today.

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