Cosmetologist Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A Cosmetologist, or Beautician, is responsible for working with clients to help them achieve desired makeup looks, hairstyles and nail designs. Their duties include interacting with clients, performing beautification techniques and providing spa-like services to their clients.

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Cosmetologist duties and responsibilities

Cosmetologists work directly with clients, using their expertise to create designs and looks. Cosmetologists have the following responsibilities:

  • Coloring, cutting, designing and washing hair
  • Offering makeup recommendations based on preferences and skincare needs
  • Making recommendations on hair and makeup products
  • Cutting, cleaning, grooming and painting nails
  • Perform facials and scalp treatments
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Cosmetologist Job Description Examples

What does a Cosmetologist do?

Cosmetologists are typically employed by beauty salons and spas. However, they are also employed to work at hotels and resorts, department stores and cruise ships. Cosmetologists can also be self-employed individuals who work on a contractual basis. They use their skills doing makeup and hair to help clients create the look they envisioned. Their job is to talk with clients about what they want and give them helpful tips about applying makeup, and skincare products. They may also offer hand and foot massages in addition to a manicure or pedicure appointment.

Cosmetologist skills and qualifications

Cosmetologists will need certain prerequisite skills or certifications, which include:

  • Communication: Good communication skills are required to understand a client’s needs and preferences. Clients often describe what they want and what they do not want, and the ability to understand these requests is important when working as a Cosmetologist.
  • Creativity: Cosmetologists will need a good amount of creativity. The cosmetology industry can be competitive, and the ability to be creative is crucial in retaining clients.
  • Dexterity: Whether the Cosmetologist is cutting hair, shaving facial hair or waxing, good dexterity skills will lead to a satisfied client.
  • Organization: Cosmetologists will often see multiple clients in one day. The ability to stay organized and manage time in an effective and productive way is crucial in this role.

Cosmetologist salary expectations

A Cosmetologist makes an average of $43,101 per year. Salary may depend on level of experience, education and the geographical location. 

Cosmetologist education and training requirements

A minimum of a high school diploma and the completion of a cosmetology program is required to work as a Cosmetologist. Each state has its own requirements, and aspiring Cosmetologists will need to complete these requirements which will usually include a certain number of hours and the successful completion of the state exam. Students will need to test for each type of cosmetology service they want to offer. Many Cosmetologists will receive hands-on training during their educational program. They may practice their cosmetology skills on fake hair or volunteer clients.

Cosmetologist experience requirements

Whether or not previous experience is required will depend on the needs of the salon. Some hiring managers may prefer to hire entry-level Cosmetologists who are newly licensed and then train them on their salon policies. Other hiring managers may prefer to hire Cosmetologists who have previous experience working in a salon and have already begun to build a client load. Some Cosmetologists will begin working as an assistant and then work their way up to a Cosmetologist position.

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Frequently asked questions about cosmetologists


What is the difference between a Cosmetologist and an Esthetician?

The difference between a Cosmetologist and an Esthetician lies in the scope of their job duties and areas of focus. For example, Cosmetologists focus on providing a variety of services to their clients to help enhance their natural beauty, including makeup, hairstyling and other techniques. In contrast, Estheticians work with clients to help them improve their complexion and overall appearance by performing facials and other skin treatments. They also remove facial hair as well. 

It is important to note that certain states may provide Esthetician certifications with a Cosmetologist license, so some Cosmetologists may also be able to provide the same services as Estheticians. 


What are the daily duties of a Cosmetologist?

On a typical day, a Cosmetologist arrives at their place of work and begins preparing for their first appointment of the day. They set up makeup supplies, hair products and other tools that they will need for a particular appointment. Throughout the day, they meet with a variety of clients and talk with them to discuss what they want in terms of hairstyles and makeup looks. 

Throughout each appointment, they make conversation with their clients and make adjustments to their work. At the end of their workday, they reorganize their supplies, clean up their workspace and wash tools like makeup brushes.


What makes a good Cosmetologist?

A good Cosmetologist is someone who has a desire to please others and instill self-confidence in them by helping them refresh their look. They are also perfectionists and channel this quality by completing professional makeup looks with high-grade tools and makeup brands. A good Cosmetologist is also fond of verbal communication and displays a friendly manner when interacting with clients. This ensures that clients feel comfortable and have a fun experience during their appointment. 

A quality Cosmetologist should also be able to receive constructive criticism regarding their work and strive to correct their mistakes for customer satisfaction.


Who does a Cosmetologist report to?

Cosmetologists usually report to Beauty Salon Managers or other managerial roles within their place of work. For self-employed Cosmetologists they typically set their own standards, but they may report to clients or Salon Owners when they complete freelance work.

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