The Five Hottest Careers in Cosmetology

The field of cosmetology offers a variety of career paths that come with both good salaries and some unique rewards.

Cosmetologists blend a host of skills to give their careers special meaning. They help people feel better about their appearance, offer advice on how to look better, counsel clients on family and relationship problems, and convince clients that their body image issues are all in their head. The right cosmetologist can help her clients avoid unnecessary diets, dangerous products, and even low self-esteem. If you recognize the value of this important work and are prepared to get into the field, here are five hot careers in the industry.

If you are looking to make a change in your life and cosmetology looks like the field for you, please contact Phagans for a free tour of one of our schools and learn why we say “knowledge is beautiful.”

Makeup Artist


Phagans students hold competitions to see who can be the most creative with their styles, including make-up, hair and styling.

Makeup artists are the highest-paid members of the cosmetology trade, with median earnings in 2013 of $66,330*, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. There’s more than one way to be a makeup artist. You can work in television and movies, providing makeup consultations to stars. Other makeup artists specialize in more dramatic looks, turning normal people into zombies, monsters, or insects. Many makeup artists do wedding-day hair and makeup, and a few cross-occupational boundaries to offer makeup artistry in a variety of contexts. If you browse the Phagans Facebook page you’ll often see some dramatic makeup artistry on display.


Estheticians are skincare experts who serve a variety of roles, with median 2013 earnings of $32,990*. Most perform facials and other skincare procedures, and many offer advice about appropriate skincare rituals and good products. Some doctor’s offices, such as cosmetic surgeons, hire estheticians, with medical estheticians commanding higher-than-average wages.


For many women, a regular visit to a hairstylist is something of a religious ritual. Hairstylists cut and color hair, perform treatments such as perms, and ensure hair is in tip-top shape for big events such as weddings and proms. But their work doesn’t stop there. A hairstylist is part counselor, part best friend, and part consultant. As a hairstylist, you’ll be charged with helping your clients maximize their good hair days. Median wages are just above $26,000, but the most successful hairstylists can make much more.

Beauty Sales

Americans spend more than $33 billion on cosmetics each year. If you love beauty products, then it’s time to get in on the action! Beauty sales consultants work a variety of roles. Some work in retail settings, while others sell specific beauty lines out of their homes. A few serve as consultants, offering advice about several different brands. In most cases, you’ll be making retail wages, but the most successful beauty sales consultants can command earnings well over six figures. In fact at Phagans cosmetology schools, our students are often treated to talks by brand consultants, who visit the schools, educate students on their product lines and develop relationships with us that yield more retail sales for both us and for them.


More than half of women get regular manicures and it’s tough for nail salons to keep up with the demand. Manicurists are notoriously low paid, with median annual earnings of only about $21,000. Manicurists at the top of their game, though, as well as those who specialize in intricate nail art, can earn much more at the top salons. And if you’re really good at what you do, you may even be able to open your nail salon and charge premium rates for a first-rate mani-pedi.

*While the salary figures come from the federal government many in the industry under-report their tips.  

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