According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) employment and wage statistics last compiled in June 2018, cosmetologists and skincare specialists in the United States earn a median hourly wage of $15.05/hour plus gratuities.
Most licensed cosmetologists work in “personal care industries,” which include full-service salons, day spas and as skincare and nail technicians. According to the BLS, there are 71,800 cosmetology/skincare specialist job in the United States and the job growth is rated much better than average increasing by 11% from 2018 – 2028.
Cosmetologists who work in department stores as makeup artists and sales representatives earn about $11.24 per hour or $23,379 per year plus gratuities. Cosmetologists who teach in beauty schools or technical colleges typically earn about $16.62 per hour, or $34,596 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 $34.50 and an annual salary of about $71,760. Those who work for performing arts companies make about $28.31 per hour, and average $58,885 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.