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Merriam-Webster describes it as the cosmetic treatment of the skin, hair and nails, but how do you define cosmetology? Is it through makeup application, skin care, or hairstyling? If you're interested in becoming a part of the beauty scene, how you define cosmetology will be very important as you draw in clients and set yourself apart in the cosmetology workforce.  

Developing your philosophy of beauty will happen over time and with experience. However long that may take, a key advantage for those seeking to join the field lies in the fact that cosmetologists are in high demand, as per a 2003 Cosmetology Job Demand Survey administered by NACCAS (the National Accredited Commission of Cosmetology Arts & Sciences) and job growth is looking good, with a slightly faster than average rate as indicated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Cosmetology careers are also about people skills. Cosmetologists should possess great interpersonal skills in addition to styling skills. As many salons depend on revenues afforded by client retention (and new client recruitment) and retail sales, it's also not a bad idea to have some salesperson savvy up your sleeve. A few courses in business would certainly enhance the prospects for those who dream of operating their own spa or salon someday.  

Cosmetology in the Real World
Cosmetology training may not be as academically rigorous as Harvard Law, but students must work hard, both in academics and on-the-floor training, and take intense classes in technical subjects such as biology, chemistry, nutrition, and herbology. Although the fun stuff, like seasonal color trends or learning the how-to's on the latest up-do techniques, is part of the package, it's not the only aspect of cosmetology in which you will be trained. 

While licensure qualifications vary by state, all cosmetologists seeking a license (which is necessary to obtain a cosmetology job) must be at least 16 years old, possess a high school diploma (or GED), and have graduated from an accredited cosmetology school.  After cosmetology students have finished the program of their choosing, they can take the licensing exam required by their state (these exams are typically written but may also include an oral exam or a hands-on test demonstrating their styling skills). Also to note: there is a separate licensing exam for those seeking a cosmetology career as a manicurist, pedicurist or skin care specialist. 

The most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that cosmetologists receive about $7.47/per hour on the low end and $20.41/per hour on the high end (translating to annual wages between $15,530 and $42,460). Salaries for manicurists and pedicurists are comparable, with shampooers making slightly less.

Join the colorful, creative world of cosmetology and do your part to help make the world a more beautiful place!

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