How Much Does a Cosmetologist Make a Year?

By Jacqueline DeMarco · April 15, 2024 · 7 minute read

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How Much Does a Cosmetologist Make a Year?

The median annual pay for cosmetologists is $33,400 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data for the most recent year studied. Helping people feel their best can be a rewarding way to spend one’s workdays, and cosmetologists get to do just that. From hair to skincare to makeup to nails, there are a lot of different niches a cosmetologist can master, all of which can be really fun and rewarding career paths to take.

That said, the average pay for cosmetologists is significantly lower than the average income for all jobs in America, which, again according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is just below $60,000 for the fourth quarter of 2023.

Keep reading to learn more about what it’s like to work as a cosmetologist and what the earning potential could be.

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What Are Cosmetologists?

Cosmetologists can specialize in one type of personal grooming service, such as haircuts or manicures and pedicures. Others may offer skincare services like facials, hair removal (waxing), or applying makeup for special occasions. Many cosmetologists offer a variety of these services, whereas others have a specific niche, like hairstyling.

During cosmetology school, it’s common to take lessons in a handful of different specialties. That way, students can gain better insight into which areas of cosmetology they are most passionate about and most skilled at.

In terms of training, states often require a certain number of hours of training and passing written and practical examinations. For instance, in New York, you need 1,000 hours of training. You might study at a private cosmetology school (cosmetology school loans may be available) or find an associate’s degree program.

Also, it’s a good idea to note that your area of specialization can impact your earning potential as a cosmetologist, as can your location. In New York City, with its high cost of living and pay grade, one study found the average salary to be more than $70,000 per year. That could mean that those in major cities, with superior skills and experience and a loyal following, could even earn $100,000 per year.

Lastly, it’s important to recognize that cosmetology typically involves lots of interaction with clients. For this reason, it may not be the best job for antisocial people.

💡 Quick Tip: We love a good spreadsheet, but not everyone feels the same. An online budget planner can give you the same insight into your budgeting and spending at a glance, without the extra effort.

How Much Do Starting Cosmetologists Make a Year?

When they are working with entry-level experience, cosmetologists can expect to earn less than those with many years of fieldwork under their belt.

When it comes to starting wages, cosmetologists can expect to earn a median hourly wage of $10.48 (this is the lowest 10% of earners) but may see that amount rise significantly over time. The top 10% of earners in this field make more than $28.88 per hour.

For example, a celebrity makeup artist can make very competitive pay, but they also tend to be extremely skilled and experienced.

What is the Average Salary for a Cosmetologist?

The amount of money someone stands to earn as a cosmetologist can vary significantly depending on the services they offer, their experience level, and where they live. How much money does a cosmetologist make per year? The median annual salary is $33,400.

It’s important to note that an annual salary is not a guarantee as a cosmetologist as many work part-time. In terms of how much a cosmetologist makes an hour, the median hourly wage for a cosmetologist is $16.06.

These medians give prospective cosmetologists an idea of how much they stand to make if they choose to pursue this career path, but they can get an even clearer picture once they learn what the average salary by state is for their location. Here, you’ll find these figures arranged from highest to lowest.

What is the Average Cosmetologist Salary by State for 2023

State Annual Salary Monthly Pay Weekly Pay Hourly Wage
New York $48,025 $4,002 $923 $23.09
Vermont $47,198 $3,933 $907 $22.69
California $46,356 $3,863 $891 $22.29
Maine $45,017 $3,751 $865 $21.64

$44,534 $3,711 $856 $21.41
Washington $44,187 $3,682 $849 $21.24
Pennsylvania $43,983 $3,665 $845 $21.15
Massachusetts $43,445 $3,620 $835 $20.89
Alaska $43,170 $3,597 $830 $20.76
New Jersey $43,011 $3,584 $827 $20.68
New Hampshire $42,908 $3,575 $825 $20.63
Oregon $42,677 $3,556 $820 $20.52
North Dakota $42,635 $3,552 $819 $20.50
Wisconsin $42,362 $3,530 $814 $20.37
Wyoming $41,983 $3,498 $807 $20.18
Hawaii $41,826 $3,485 $804 $20.11
Colorado $41,600 $3,466 $800 $20.00
Indiana $41,247 $3,437 $793 $19.83
Nevada $40,819 $3,401 $784 $19.62
New Mexico $40,705 $3,392 $782 $19.57
Minnesota $40,649 $3,387 $781 $19.54
Arizona $40,394 $3,366 $776 $19.42
South Dakota $40,294 $3,357 $774 $19.37
Montana $39,786 $3,315 $765 $19.13
Ohio $39,590 $3,299 $761 $19.03
Rhode Island $39,530 $3,294 $760 $19.01
Delaware $39,456 $3,288 $758 $18.97
Alabama $39,289 $3,274 $755 $18.89
Virginia $39,028 $3,252 $750 $18.76
Connecticut $38,758 $3,229 $745 $18.63
Iowa $38,685 $3,223 $743 $18.60
Illinois $38,391 $3,199 $738 $18.46
Mississippi $38,340 $3,195 $737 $18.43
Maryland $38,247 $3,187 $735 $18.39
Tennessee $37,798 $3,149 $726 $18.17
Utah $37,700 $3,141 $725 $18.13
Nebraska $37,533 $3,127 $721 $18.04
Missouri $37,031 $3,085 $712 $17.80
South Carolina $36,656 $3,054 $704 $17.62
Georgia $36,600 $3,050 $703 $17.60
Oklahoma $36,348 $3,029 $699 $17.48
Texas $36,300 $3,025 $698 $17.45
Kansas $36,094 $3,007 $694 $17.35
North Carolina $35,899 $2,991 $690 $17.26
Louisiana $35,490 $2,957 $682 $17.06
Kentucky $34,483 $2,873 $663 $16.58
Michigan $34,470 $2,872 $662 $16.57
West Virginia $33,968 $2,830 $653 $16.33
Arkansas $32,760 $2,730 $630 $15.75
Florida $32,391 $2,699 $622 $15.57

Source: ZipRecruiter

Cosmetologist Job Considerations for Pay & Benefits

Even if they work full-time, many cosmetologists are self-employed and rent a chair or workspace at the salon they work in. Because most cosmetologists are not full-time employees of someone else’s business, they typically don’t receive employer-sponsored benefits like health coverage or a 401(k) match. That means they also won’t receive a paycheck when they take time off. To help offset the loss of benefits, cosmetologists need to set their rates to account for not just the amount of money they need to cover living expenses, but so they earn enough to afford benefits as well.

Some cosmetologists, however, will find full-time work. Examples of these career paths could be working as a cosmetology instructor or being a staffer at a resort’s spa.

💡 Quick Tip: Income, expenses, and life circumstances can change. Consider reviewing your budget a few times a year and making any adjustments if needed.

Pros and Cons of Cosmetologist Salary

One of the main benefits of a cosmetologist’s salary is that expensive schooling isn’t required to start this career. While completing a state-approved cosmetology program is typically required, this education path is usually much faster and less expensive than pursuing a four-year degree. This means many cosmetologists can avoid taking out expensive student loans with monthly payments that can eat into their paychecks.

However, there is no denying that the average cosmetologist salary is below the national average for all incomes combined.

The Takeaway

Working as a cosmetologist leads to a median annual salary of $33,400. With hard work and strong skills, cosmetologists can expect to make more money down the road, especially if they work in certain markets. Also, since many cosmetologists work for themselves, they can gradually increase their rates as they build their client base and reputation.

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Can you make 100k a year as a cosmetologist?

It is possible to earn $100,000 or more a year as a cosmetologist. However, it will take time to build up a client base or find a position that will pay high enough rates to build a six-figure salary.

Do people like being a cosmetologist?

It’s very common to pursue cosmetology as a career because of a passion for hair care, skincare, makeup, or nail care. This can be a really fun and rewarding career path for anyone whose passions align with the services they offer. However, if someone is an introvert, even if they love cosmetology, they may find a full day of social interaction to be too draining.

Is it hard to get hired as a cosmetologist?

There are currently 89,400 job openings projected annually for cosmetologists between now and 2032, and there is an anticipated 8% growth of openings during that time, which exceeds the national average.

Photo credit: iStock/Renata Angerami

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Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.


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