According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics employment and wage statistics last compiled in June, 2014, cosmetologists in the United States earn an hourly wage falling somewhere between $8.34 and $23.21.
Annual salaries range from $15,530 to $42,460. The average full-time cosmetologist earns about $11.13 per hour, or $23,140 over the course of a year (2080 hours). Most licensed cosmetologists work in “personal care industries,” which include full-service salons, day spas and as skin care and nail technicians. These cosmetologists earn an average of $12.96 per hour, or an annual salary of $26,950, according to the BLS.
Cosmetologists who work in department stores as makeup artists and sales representatives earn about $9.73 per hour, or $20,240 per year. Cosmetologists who teach in beauty schools or technical colleges typically earn about $13.24 per hour, or $27,540 over the course of a year.
Not surprisingly, cosmetologists who work in the motion picture and video industry are the highest earners, with an average hourly wage of $29.50 and an annual salary of about $67,370. Those who work for performing arts companies make about $22.90 per hour, and average $47,710 per year.
Pennsylvania has the highest concentration of cosmetologists of any state, with an average earning capacity of $11.08 per hour, followed by Wisconsin, where cosmetologists make approximately $12.15 an hour, or $25,260 annually. Hawaii is the top paying state, where the average cosmetologist makes about $20 an hour, or $41,600 annually. Mansfield, Ohio has the highest concentration of cosmetologists of any metropolitan area in the United States, and cosmetologists there earn a respectable $11.61 per hour, just above the national average.
The metropolitan area where cosmetologists earn the most is Brockton-Bridgewater-Easton, Massachusetts, where the average cosmetologist makes $20.68 per hour, or $43,010 per year.
Cosmetologists are paid in several different ways: a set hourly wage; a commission based upon a percentage (usually 50%) of the services they perform; or a salary plus commission basis. They also are paid a commission (usually 10-15%) on the retail products they sell, and customarily receive tips from their customers, usually somewhere in the range of 10-20% of the cost of the service. Tips vary according to the type of salon, city, and geographic region of the United States. Cosmetologists who are independent contractors earn what is left over after expenses such as rent, supply costs, advertising, and other business expenses are paid.