How Much Does a Cosmetologist Make Per Year?

Skincare specialists often earn the most in the cosmetology field.
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More than ever, people are taking care of themselves. They hit the gym, watch what they eat and even try to reduce stress, all in an attempt to reverse the signs of aging. Part of this equation falls on cosmetologists, and people pay handsomely for their services. Cosmetologists earn a wide range of salaries. When it comes to hair, a cosmetologist will earn one salary. Those working on nails earn another and those devoted to skincare earn something different. However, all cosmetologists — be they hairdressers, manicurists or skincare specialists — must complete a state-approved cosmetology program to venture into this industry.


    In 2011, hairdressers averaged $26,460 a year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS. But high salaries can skew the average, and median wage is often a better indication of a hairdresser’s earnings. Half of all hairdressers earned less than $22,750 a year. Both figures, however, do not account for tips, which amount to about 15 to 20 percent of the cost of the service.


    In the world of cosmetology, manicurists -- or pedicurists, for that matter -- don’t usually earn as much as hairdressers. On average, manicurists and pedicurists both earned almost $22,000 a year, reports the BLS. As of 2011, half of all manicurists and pedicurists earned less than $19,440 a year. Much like hairdressers, manicurists and pedicurists make a portion of their living from tips. The standard is 15 percent of the cost for the service.

Skincare Specialists

    Topping the list of highest salaries in the world of cosmetology are skincare specialists. These professionals earned an average of $32,080 a year, per the BLS. As with hairdressers and manicurists, high salaries can skew the average, so median wage gives a clearer picture of earning potential. Half of all skincare specialists earned less than $29,190 a year. Tips are also quite common, with the standard being anywhere from 15 to 20 percent of the facial's cost.

Job Outlook

    Through 2020, hairdressers can expect an employment growth of 14 percent, reports the BLS. This is on par with the national average for all U.S. occupations. Manicurists, on the other hand, should see a job growth of 17 percent, while skincare specialists will find the greatest job opportunities, at an estimated 25 percent growth rate.

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