How to Become a Beautician in 5 Steps

Brandi Glass
February 5, 20224 min read
How to Become a Beautician

If you love making people feel great about themselves, then a beautician or cosmetologist could be the ideal career for you. You’ll get to spend every shift making people smile as you do their makeup, give them facials, paint their nails or style their hair.

What’s more, you’ll get to work with your hands, be creative and interact with lots of different people. There’s plenty of variety. Being a beautician can be an incredibly fun and rewarding career.

Let’s go through how you can become a licensed beautician and apply for jobs, as well as how much you can expect to earn.

How to Become a Beautician: A Step-by-Step Guide

The legislation around working as a beautician varies from state to state, so you should check local requirements. However, in most cases, you will need to do the following:

1. Obtain Your High School Diploma or GED

Before you can sign up for cosmetology training, you will need to either finish high school or earn your GED. In most states, you will also need to be at least 16 years old. Some, however, require you to be 18 before you can enroll in cosmetology or beauty school.

2. Do a State-Approved Cosmetology Program or Apprenticeship

A cosmetology program will teach you key beauty skillsets, from nails and makeup to esthetics and human anatomy. You’ll also learn about health and safety, sanitation practices, management theory and much more.

The amount of time you’ll need to spend studying will depend on the state, as well as the beauty school, although on average it’s around 1,500 hours. Most full-time students will finish their cosmetology course within one to two years. For part-time students, the course duration can vary significantly.

Most states require you to graduate from an approved cosmetology program. However, in some locations, you can do an apprenticeship alongside or instead of a formal cosmetology program. This will potentially let you earn while studying as opposed to paying beauty school fees. Plus, you will get hands-on experience in the workplace and one-to-one training with a licensed cosmetologist.

Bear in mind, however, that if you do an apprenticeship in lieu of a cosmetology program at a beauty school, you will typically be required to do a greater number of hours before you can get your license. In fact, in most states, it takes around twice as long. If you’re in a rush to become a registered beautician and earn higher wages, this may not be the best option for you.

3. Pass Your License Exam(s)

After finishing your cosmetology program or apprenticeship, you should now be ready to take your license exams. In some states, you will only need to sit one written exam. Others require you to do both a practical and theoretical exam. It’s worth familiarizing yourself with the exam process and types of questions that will come up ahead of time.

You should also check how frequently your state requires you to renew your license, as well as if you need to meet any additional requirements to do so. In some locations, you’ll have to do a certain number of hours of continuing education in order to maintain your license.

4. Apply for Beautician Jobs

Now you’ve passed your exams and received your cosmetologist license, you’re ready to start working as a beautician. You could look for jobs in salons or spas, or branch out as a self-employed makeup artist or hairdresser. Some beauticians also find work in department stores, makeup stores and photography or TV studios.

5. Specialize and Upskill for Career Growth

After completing a beautician program, you might be looking forward to not having to study anymore. However, further education can help you advance your career, improve your income and hone the skills that most interest you.

In addition to technical skills, such as makeup artistry and esthetics, you might wish to study business management, sales, accounting or marketing. These could help you launch your own beauty salon or start work as a self-employed beautician.

You could also study to train other beauticians or pick up related skills, such as massage and aromatherapy, to diversify your income.

How Much Does a Beautician Make?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), beauticians, hairstylists and barbers earned an average of $27,630 a year in 2020. However, after taking barbers out of the equation, the median hourly rate was $13.16.

Although the beauty industry has a reputation for low wages, there are ways to increase your earnings. Good customer service can result in higher tips, while salon and spa managers and owners tend to earn significantly more. In some salons, commission on product sales can further boost your wages.

You may also find renting a chair in a studio or working privately is better for you than being a salon employee, depending on how many of your own clients you have and how many daily bookings you get. It means you will receive the entirety of what your clients pay, although you will have additional costs, from equipment to insurance (and, of course, the chair rental).

Some beauticians also work on movie and TV sets or on fashion and editorial photoshoots. While challenging to get into, these jobs can be more lucrative.

How to Apply for Beautician Jobs

Once you’ve received your state license, it’s time to start applying for beautician roles. If you’re looking for work in salons or spas, you’ll want to prepare a few things:

  • A portfolio with professional photos of some of your best work
  • A professional resume that highlights your qualifications and experience
  • A cover letter explaining why you want to work at this salon and what makes you a good fit

Large chain salons and spas often require you to fill in an online form and upload your CV. At smaller salons, however, you may be asked to email them over or even drop by in person. In that case, remember to wear something professional, smile and be prepared for a few impromptu interview questions.

Here at Rocket Resume, we have dozens of beauty and spa resume templates to help you impress salon owners. Each one is machine-readable and attractively presented, making them suitable for online or in-person job applications. You can customize them to your experience and the salon in minutes, while our system will automatically suggest recruiter-approved phrasing.

Build your resume now so you can apply for beautician roles with confidence.