Cosmetologists are beauty generalists. They do everything from hairdressing
(working with real hair or wigs and hairpieces) to giving manicures, pedicures,
and scalp and facial treatments. They may also apply make-up and teach clients
how to use it. Selling products is an important part of many jobs.
Some cosmetologists choose to narrow down the responsibilities and specialize
in just one of those fields. Nail technicians are one example -- they are
nail care experts. Cosmeticians specialize in make-up. They help clients buy
and apply make-up and other beauty products. The term cosmetology is often
used as an umbrella to cover all careers in the beauty industry.
"My job responsibilities vary from day to day. Being a cosmetologist, I
am licensed to do many different treatments, including facials, manicures,
pedicures and facial waxing," says Angela Kreinest. She is a cosmetologist
in Crestview Hills, Kentucky. She specializes in hairdressing.
Kristin Ploof is a cosmetologist in Rochester, New York. She performs typical
hairdressing services. But she enjoys the variety her cosmetology training
allows her. "It is really neat because, as a cosmetologist, you are trained
to do so many different things. It is your choice what you do and what you
don't do," she says.
Cosmetologists are employed by salons, spas and other beauty businesses.
Some work in retail. Others own their own businesses.
The working hours vary. Many customers seek out beauty services in the
evenings and on weekends. Cosmetologists do not often work a typical nine-to-five,
Monday-to-Friday week. A 40-hour work week is common. Hours may be longer
for self-employed workers.
In the U.S., all states require cosmetologists to be licensed. The exceptions
are shampooers and make-up artists. Licensing differs from state to state.
It is important to check the details for the state where you will work.
Generally, cosmetologists must graduate from a state-licensed cosmetology
school. Then they must take a licensing exam. If you are licensed in one state
and want to move to another, you will probably need additional training for
a license in the new state.
Depending on the services a cosmetologist performs, they may come in contact
with chemicals. Irritation from these chemicals is a possible risk for workers.
They may wear protective clothing like gloves and smocks.
Cosmetologists are often on their feet at work. They perform repetitive
actions. This can cause physical strain. But products are being developed
to reduce the risks.
"There are cutting stools, which allow you to sit with proper posture and
cut, hair dryers that extend from the ceiling on a retractable cord so you're
pulling down instead of lifting a heavy dryer and creating strain on your
shoulders, and swivel-thumb shears to help prevent carpal tunnel," says Kreinest.
Kreinest says the abilities of a person with special needs determine whether
the person can or cannot become a cosmetologist. Angus Mitchell is the son
of Paul Mitchell, the famous hairdresser and cofounder of John Paul Mitchell
Systems. Kreinest points out that Angus has autism and has become a world-renowned