Detailed Guide forHairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists in California
May also be called: Beauticians; Colorists; Beauty Operators, and Stylists.
What Would I Do?
Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists offer services to improve the physical appearance of their clients. These include shampooing, cutting, coloring, and styling hair, and massaging and treating the scalp. Note: This guide does not describe manicurists or skin care specialists.
Cosmetologists provide hair styling services for their customers to help them look attractive. Most of their time is spent styling hair according to their clients’ directions, hair type, and facial features. Knowledge of the latest hair styles and cutting techniques is essential. They shampoo, cut, set, and comb hair. They may also color or straighten hair or give it a permanent wave.
Cosmetologists use tools such as combs, scissors, razors, and clippers to cut hair. They set hair using rollers, clips, setting lotions, and gels. Styling hair calls for the use of dryers, combs, brushes, and blow-dryers. They may also use hot combs and curling irons to press and curl hair. Cosmetologists may apply rinses or conditioners after shampooing to treat dry or damaged hair.
Additional duties include scheduling appointments, using the cash register, cleaning the work area and equipment, and keeping records of hair color formulas and permanent waves used by regular patrons. Self-employed Cosmetologists have a managerial role in addition to their work as Stylists.
Important Tasks and Related Skills
Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.
|View the skill definitions|
|Task||Skill Used in this Task|
|Schedule client appointments.||Time Management|
|Analyze patrons' hair and other physical features to determine and recommend beauty treatment or suggest hair styles.||Operations Analysis|
|Shampoo, rinse, condition and dry hair and scalp or hairpieces with water, liquid soap, or other solutions.||Manual Dexterity|
|Cut, trim and shape hair or hairpieces, based on customers' instructions, hair type and facial features, using clippers, scissors, trimmers and razors.||Arm-Hand Steadiness|
|Bleach, dye, or tint hair, using applicator or brush.||Chemistry|
|Update and maintain customer information records, such as beauty services provided.||Customer and Personal Service|
|Keep work stations clean and sanitize tools such as scissors and combs.||Equipment Selection|
|Operate cash registers to receive payments from patrons.||Service Orientation|
|Demonstrate and sell hair care products and cosmetics.||Speaking|
|Develop new styles and techniques.||Visualization|
|Apply water, setting, straightening or waving solutions to hair and use curlers, rollers, hot combs and curling irons to press and curl hair.||Trunk Strength|
|Apply water, setting, straightening or waving solutions to hair and use curlers, rollers, hot combs and curling irons to press and curl hair.||Finger Dexterity|
Below is a definition for each skill.
|View the tasks to skills list|
|Time Management||Managing one's own time and the time of others.|
|Operations Analysis||Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.|
|Manual Dexterity||The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.|
|Arm-Hand Steadiness||The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.|
|Chemistry||Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.|
|Customer and Personal Service||Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.|
|Equipment Selection||Determining the kind of tools and equipment needed to do a job.|
|Service Orientation||Actively looking for ways to help people.|
|Speaking||Talking to others to convey information effectively.|
|Visualization||The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.|
|Trunk Strength||The ability to use your abdominal and lower back muscles to support part of the body repeatedly or continuously over time without 'giving out' or fatiguing.|
|Finger Dexterity||The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.|
Cosmetologists generally work in attractively decorated, well-lit, clean, air-conditioned salons. In most salons, Stylists have their own work stations. The work of the Cosmetologist requires a great deal of standing, stooping, and reaching throughout the workday. Exposure to coloring and curling chemicals may cause allergic skin and lung reactions in some individuals. Most beauty salons are open six days a week, and some are open seven. Cosmetologists usually work five days a week and must be prepared to work weekends and some evenings. The occupation offers excellent opportunities for part-time work. Personal tools are usually furnished by the Cosmetologist. Salon owners may provide most of the other equipment.
Some Cosmetologists belong to the California Cosmetology Association or the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union.
Will This Job Fit Me?
The job of Cosmetologist will appeal to you if you have an enterprising, artistic, and social nature. Enterprising jobs involve starting up and carrying out projects. Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs, and patterns. They often require self-expression and work that can be done without following a clear set of rules. Social occupations involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. They can involve leading people and making many decisions.
What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?
The wages listed in the table below do not reflect the earnings of self-employed Hairdressers and Cosmetologists, which can be higher depending on the location of a salon, customer tipping practices, and competition from other salons. A Cosmetologist’s initiative and ability to attract and hold regular clients are key factors in determining his or her earnings. Earnings for entry-level workers are usually low; however, for those who stay in the profession, earnings can be considerably higher.
The median wage in 2015 for Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists in California was $22,879 annually, or $11.00 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.
Full-time Cosmetologists who are salaried often receive medical and dental benefits, sick leave, and vacation credits. Those who work part-time and Cosmetologists who own their own businesses generally must purchase their own health and dental insurance.
What is the Job Outlook?
The job outlook for Cosmetologists is favorable. Along with new jobs expected, many more job opportunities will occur to fill vacancies as Cosmetologists retire or leave for other kinds of work. Factors that contribute to a demand for cosmetology services include a growing population with higher incomes, more styling services for men, the increasing number of working women, and a general expansion of the beauty salon industry.
Projections of Employment
In California, the number of Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists is expected to grow faster than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists are expected to increase by 20.0 percent, or 8,100 jobs between 2012 and 2022.
|Estimated Employment and Projected Growth|
Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Due to Net
|View Projected Growth for All Areas|
Annual Job Openings
In California, an average of 810 new job openings per year is expected for Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists, plus an additional 950 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 1,750 job openings.
|Estimated Average Annual Job Openings|
Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists
|Jobs From Growth||Jobs Due to|
|View Data for All Areas|
How Do I Qualify?
Education, Training, and Other Requirements
A formal training program in cosmetology is the typical education path for Cosmetologists. The length of time required to complete these programs varies between nine months and two years. Public and private vocational schools offer daytime or evening classes in cosmetology.
Formal training includes classroom study, demonstrations, and practical work. Students study the basic services—cutting and styling hair, chemically treating hair, and giving hair and scalp treatments—and, under supervision, practice on customers in school “clinics.” Students attend lectures on the use and care of instruments, sanitation and hygiene, chemistry, anatomy, physiology, and the recognition of simple skin ailments. Instruction also is provided in communication, sales, and general business practices. Experienced barbers and Cosmetologists may take advanced courses in hairstyling, coloring, the sale and service of wigs and hairpieces, and sales and marketing.
Early Career Planning
Chemistry, health education, art, and business courses would offer high school students knowledge to help succeed in this career.
There are no continuing education requirements required to renew a Cosmetologist license with the State of California.
Apprenticeship and Work Study Programs
Another, less-common method of qualifying for the State Board examination is working as an apprentice for two years in a beauty salon under the supervision of a Board-approved Cosmetologist. This type of training must consist of at least 220 hours of instruction to qualify for a license.
For more information on apprenticeship programs currently available, visit the State of California's Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Apprenticeship Standards Web site.
Contact the agency that issues the license for additional information.Click on the license title below for details.
Where Can I Find Training?
There are two ways to search for training information:
Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.
Where Would I Work?
While Cosmetologists are typically found in hair salons, others work on cruise lines and resorts, in department stores, and retirement facilities. Nationally, about 48 percent of Cosmetologists are self-employed. The largest industries employing Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists are as follows:
|Industry Title||Percent of Total Employment for Occupation in California|
|Personal Care Services ||51.7%|
|Department Stores ||3.5%|
|Motion Picture and Video Industries ||1.4%|
Finding a Job
Direct application to hair salons remains one of the most effective job search methods. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at www.jobcentral.com and CalJOBSSM at www.caljobs.ca.gov.
To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).
Yellow Page Headings
You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists.
- Beauty Salons & Services
- Hair and Beauty Salons
Find Possible Employers
To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:
- Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
- Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
- Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
- Contact the employer for possible employment.
Where Could This Job Lead?
Advancement is usually in the form of higher earnings. This occurs as a Cosmetologist gains experience and builds up a steady clientele, or becomes a skilled specialist in one or more phases such as hair styling, straightening, or coloring. Managerial positions may be available in large beauty salons. More commonly, Cosmetologists advance by opening their own salons. Some become teachers in beauty colleges, sales representatives for cosmetics firms, beauty editors for newspapers or magazines, or examiners for State cosmetology boards. Advancement is based not only on ability, but on the Cosmetologists willingness to continue training to keep up with changing hair styles and techniques.
Below is a list of occupations related to Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists with links to more information.
These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.
For the Career Professional
The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.