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Career Information: Beauty & Wellness

Barbers and cosmetologists focus on providing hair care services to enhance the appearance of consumers. Other personal appearance workers, such as manicurists and pedicurists, shampooers, theatrical and performance makeup artists, and skin care specialists provide specialized beauty services that help clients look and feel their best.

SEE ALSO: MASSAGE THERAPY

SIGNIFICANT POINTS:

  • A State license is required for barbers, cosmetologists, and most other personal appearance workers, although qualifications vary by State.
  • About 46 percent of workers are self employed; many also work flexible schedules.

OCCUPATIONS IN THE INDUSTRY:

BARBERS cut, trim, shampoo, and style hair mostly for male clients. They also may fit hairpieces and offer scalp treatments and facial shaving. In many States, barbers are licensed to color, bleach, or highlight hair and to offer permanent-wave services. Barbers also may provide skin care and nail treatments.

HAIRDRESSERS, HAIRSTYLISTS, and COSMETOLOGISTS offer a wide range of beauty services, such as shampooing, cutting, coloring, and styling of hair. They may advise clients on how to care for their hair at home. In addition, cosmetologists may be trained to give manicures, pedicures, and scalp and facial treatments; provide makeup analysis; and clean and style wigs and hairpieces.

A number of workers offer specialized services. MANICURISTS and PEDICURISTS, called NAIL TECHNICIANS in some States, work exclusively on nails and provide manicures, pedicures, polishing, and nail extensions to clients. Another group of specialists is SKIN CARE SPECIALISTS, or ESTHETICIANS, who cleanse and beautify the skin by giving facials, full-body treatments, and head and neck massages as well as apply makeup. They also may remove hair through waxing or, if properly trained, laser treatments. THEATRICAL and PERFORMANCE MAKEUP ARTISTS, apply makeup to enhance performing artists’ appearance for movie, television, or stage performances. Finally, in larger salons, SHAMPOOERS specialize in shampooing and conditioning hair.

In addition to working with clients, personal appearance workers may keep records of hair color or skin care regimens used by their regular clients. A growing number actively sell hair, skin, and nail care products. Barbers, cosmetologists, and other personal appearance workers who operate their own salons have managerial duties that may include hiring, supervising, and firing workers, as well as keeping business and inventory records, ordering supplies, and arranging for advertising.

EARNINGS:

Median hourly earnings in May 2006 for salaried hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists, including tips and commission, were $10.25. The middle 50 percent earned between $7.92 and $13.75. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $6.68, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $18.78.

wwMedian hourly earnings in May 2006 for salaried barbers, including tips, were $11.13. The middle 50 percent earned between $8.71 and $14.25. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $7.12, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $20.56.

Among skin care specialists, median hourly earnings, including tips, were $12.58, for manicurists and pedicurists $9.23, and for shampooers $7.78.

While earnings for entry-level workers usually are low, earnings can be considerably higher for those with experience. A number of factors, such as the size and location of the salon, determine the total income of personal appearance workers. They may receive commissions based on the price of the service, or a salary based on the number of hours worked, and many receive commissions on the products they sell. In addition, some salons pay bonuses to employees who bring in new business. For many personal appearance workers the ability to attract and hold regular clients are key factors in determining earnings.

Benefits and Unions: Although some salons offer paid vacations and medical benefits, many self-employed and part-time workers in this occupation do not enjoy such benefits. Some personal appearance workers receive free trial products from manufacturers in the hope that they will recommend the products to clients.

From the Bureau of Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook Online: http://www.bls.gov/oco /ocos169.htm

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