What Does a Beautician Do?

A beautician takes pride in helping clients look their best. This is a creative profession and an opportunity to make a good salary once you’ve learned the trade and gained some experience.

Depending on where a beautician works, services can include hair care, skin care, nail care and hair removal treatments.

That definition is broad, which explains why there are so many names for this popular career. A beautician may also be called a hairstylist, barber, aesthetician, skin care specialist, beauty entrepreneur or cosmetologist. 

In general, hair care specialists are called beauticians or cosmetologists, nail care specialists are called nail technicians, and skin care specialists are called aestheticians or estheticians. 

Entry-level beauticians tend to work in salons where they can make valuable contacts with clients. Many go on to start their own businesses, either as salon owners or as freelancers who lease a chair at a salon.

If this creative line of work sounds like something you want to do, keep reading to learn more. 

$ 22,400 - $ 59,400
$ 32,400
Young Asian hairdresser styles a young woman's hair at a salon
Experienced beauticians consider face shape and lifestyle to create a hairstyle that works consistently for the client. (Credit: Hananeko_Studio/Shutterstock)

Job Responsibilities

  • Wash, cut, style and color hair
  • Perform facials, peels and other skin care treatments
  • Apply makeup and offer consultations
  • Use appointment scheduling software
  • Recommend products
  • May perform nail care services
  • May offer hair removal services, such as waxing or plucking

How To Become a Beautician: FAQs

What are the steps to becoming a beautician?

First, get your high school diploma or equivalent.

Next, find a state-approved cosmetology school, which could be a vocational school, technical school or community college. 

Cosmetology programs often cover all the treatment options to give students a basic understanding of all the services. This may include haircutting and styling, nail care, beauty and wellness, makeup application, skin care and salon management. Additional classes focus on each specialty. (Keep in mind that in some states, you must be 16 years old to enroll in cosmetology school.)

Programs include classroom time and plenty of hands-on training. 

Because so many beauticians go on to become business owners, it’s a good idea to include business classes in your training. Many cosmetology schools offer entrepreneurship programs for this reason.

You may also find opportunities for an apprenticeship, where you and other entry-level beauticians will work with and learn from more experienced salon employees. 

Finally, you’ll need to earn a license to practice your trade. This requires completing a certain number of training hours, passing a written exam and passing a practical exam that covers frequently performed tasks.

There are many opportunities for certification in this profession. Certifications cover advanced treatments such as electrolysis and laser therapy for hair removal as well as specialty treatments such as eyebrow treatments or extensions. 

Are there any other qualifications or aspects of the job to consider?

When you're starting out and building your client list, tips and income may be unpredictable. It won't take long before your clients become more regular and your compensation and tips will stabilize and grow.

And as mentioned, you'll have the opportunity to own your own business. Specific programs, such as this curriculum offered by Mesa College in Arizona, can give you the tools you need to succeed.

How long does it take to become a beautician?

If you attend classes full-time, you can finish up a typical program in nine to 15 months. The more specialties you learn, the longer it will take. An apprenticeship program can take from one to three years.

Continuing education is ongoing and is needed to keep your license current.

What is the difference between a beautician and a cosmetologist?

Often, these titles are used interchangeably. However, there is a difference.

A cosmetologist tends to have more training and offer more services than a beautician, who often specializes. Schools that train cosmetologists cover more treatment options in addition to allowing students to focus on a specific area.

Is there a demand for beauticians?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics thinks so. The BLS projects about 93,800 openings per year from 2021 to 2031 for barbers, hairstylists and cosmetologists. That works out to about 11% job growth, which is much faster than the average. 

Beauticians are needed in several settings, including salons, hotels and spas. 

What skills and qualities would make someone a good fit for this job?

Successful beauticians tend to share these traits: 

  • Creativity
  • Good time-management skills
  • Excellent customer service skills
  • Good money management skills
  • The physical stamina to stand for long periods of time
The bottom line:

If you're creative and enjoy working on hair or skin, becoming a beautician could be a good bet. Once you've learned the right skills, this is a profession that will allow you to make money in a fun atmosphere. With experience, you will be able to set your own hours and control your client list. If this sounds like you, take the next step and check out training options near you.

Beautician Training in Your Area

Grayson College logo


Grayson College
Denison (239.5 Miles)
University of Arkansas - Pulaski Technical College logo


University of Arkansas - Pulaski Technical College
North Little Rock (248.8 Miles)
West Kentucky Community and Technical College logo


West Kentucky Community and Technical College
Paducah (388.2 Miles)
South Plains College logo


South Plains College
Levelland (445.9 Miles)
Hinds Community College logo


Hinds Community College
Raymond (449.7 Miles)
Lone Star College System logo

Cosmetology AAS

Lone Star College System
The Woodlands (477.1 Miles)
Bluegrass Community and Technical College logo


Bluegrass Community and Technical College
Lexington (617.0 Miles)
Southern Union State Community College logo


Southern Union State Community College
Wadley (634.6 Miles)


West Georgia Technical College
Waco (637.4 Miles)

Cosmetology Diploma

Chattahoochee Technical College
Marietta (664.2 Miles)
Athens Technical College logo


Athens Technical College
Athens (724.8 Miles)
Athens Technical College logo


Athens Technical College
Athens (724.8 Miles)