Cosmetology is the study and application of beauty treatments. The most common cosmetology career choice is hairdresser or hair stylist.  However, earning a diploma at one of the highly regarded cosmetology schools in Florida can lead to a career in skin care, cosmetics, manicure/pedicure or electrolysis.

Cosmetology careers are well suited to individuals with creative flair, who enjoy working with their hands and the public, and who enjoy establishing and maintaining interpersonal relationships.  Relationship building is a key characteristic for success in cosmetology in that these careers rely upon repeat customers and word of mouth for attracting new ones.  In addition, work in the field of cosmetology requires exceptional communication and listening skills, attention to detail, and the ability to stand or sit (depending upon the specialty – hairdresser vs. manicurist) for long periods of time.


Career Overview

According to O*Net there are an estimated 690,000 hairdressers, barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists employed throughout the US.  An additional 134,000 are employed as manicurists, pedicurists, skincare specialists and makeup artists. The majority of cosmetology professionals work in salons and barbershops.  Others find employment in department stores, spas, hotels, resorts, film or television industries, medical offices, or are self-employed.  The self-employed include those that rent space within a salon; this is an increasingly popular strategy.

The duties or tasks of cosmetologists vary according to the specialty.

Hairdressers/stylists and Barbers:

Inspect a client’s hair and scalp to recommend treatment

Discuss possible style options

Wash, condition and color hair

Cut or trim, dry and style hair 

Manicurists and Pedicurists:

Discuss nail treatments and various services available

Clean, trim and files nails

Massage hands/feet

Provide their clients with hand/foot care advice 

Skincare Specialist

Examine client’s skin to evaluate condition/appearance

Treat the skin using specialized techniques and products

Determine which products will help to maintain and improve their clients’ skin quality and appearance. 

Makeup Artists

Consult with clients (brides, film and stage directors/performers) to determine the desired effects

Apply makeup to enhance and or alter the appearance of the client depending upon the desired result


Tasks that anyone in the field of cosmetology, regardless of their specialty, can expect to do on a regular basis include:

Sterilizing equipment and cleaning their work areas

Schedule appointments and accept payments

Question their clients regarding their desired services

Order supplies

Stay abreast of the latest trends, techniques, products, treatments and research

Although cosmetology careers include both part-time and full-time employment opportunities, evening and weekend hours are common.  Longer hours are not unusual for cosmetologists who are self-employed, so physical stamina becomes essential.  Exposure to chemicals for prolonged periods of time is also a part of the job.  These chemicals may cause irritation and require the professional to wear protective clothing like disposable gloves and aprons.


Education, Training, and Licensing

There is no substitute for education. The Florida Board of Cosmetology regulates licensing in the State of Florida.  In order to gain a license in cosmetology in Florida you must be 16 years of age, have attended a licensed school, completed the minimum required training hours (varies per specialty), and pass the state’s cosmetology board exams.  The training hours required cannot be gained through an apprenticeship.

The cost and time it takes to obtain a diploma in cosmetology will depend upon the specialty.  A general cosmetology diploma (which includes classes in hairdressing, manicure, pedicure, and skincare) takes on average one year to complete and costs around $15,000 in tuition and fees.  For those who know the specialty they want to focus on the cost and time it takes will be substantially less.  An education to become a manicurist/pedicurist takes 3 months to complete and costs an average of $2500 and a diploma in skincare takes about 7 months to complete and costs an average of $6300.

Each program helps students to develop their technical skills as well as provide information that will help them to develop professionally.  In addition to the hands-on training offered at cosmetologist schools, they often include education in customer care and customer relations because these are incredibly important parts of the profession. Additional courses can include training on how to own and operate your own business.

Once you have completed your education in cosmetology or desired specialty you must obtain a license to work in Florida.  The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation website lists license application and exam requirements as well as sample questions and references to better prepare you for taking the exam. The exam itself consists of two portions – written theory and written clinical.  Both portions consist of 65 multiple choice questions (130 total) based on the various subject areas covered in your education.  The theory portion includes questions about general safety and sanitation, client services, and professional and legal laws and rules.  The clinical portion includes questions about hair coloring and lightening, scalp and hair care, and styling.  The fee for taking the initial cosmetology exam is $78.

For more information on licensing requirement visit

Salary Information

According to O*NET the median wage for hairdressers and hairstylists is $10.94 per hour or $22,700 per year.  Barbers earn, on average, $12.00 per hour or $25,000 per year.  Manicurists/pedicurists earn $9.24 per hour or $19,220 per year, and skincare specialists earn the most with $13.77 per hour or $28,640 annually.  Individuals in the field of cosmetology with the best reputation and the highest tipping clients can earn as much as $40,000 or more annually.

The actual salary you will earn is highly dependent on the area where you work, whether you are employed or self-employed and the reputation and client base you have built.  The median annual salary for Hairdressers/Hairstylists in select major cities in Florida, according to, fall right around the national average as shown below.

Jacksonville $23,050
Miami $23,702
Orlando $22,204
Tampa/St. Petersburg $22,711
Tallahassee $22,083


The Future Outlook for Cosmetologists

Overall job opportunities for barbers, hairdressers and cosmetologists are expected to be good according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  New job openings will come from the need to replace workers transferring to other occupations or retiring.  However, competition for jobs in the best paying salons and competition for the highest paying customers will also be high.

The demand for manicurists and pedicurists in particular will grow quickly.  New nail services including mini sessions and mobile manicures has driven this demand and increased employment opportunities.  More salons and spas are opening their doors and more malls and department stores are offering these services.   Opportunities for skincare specialists are expected to grow 25% from 2010 to 2020 – faster than the average for all occupations.  This increase is due to new services such as mini facials and mobile services.  Additionally, a growing number of women and men are looking for ways to reduce the effects of the environment and aging on their appearance.

Ready to move forward towards a career in cosmetology?  Review our list of Cosmetology training programs in Florida.  To find a school near you, enter the name of your city in the search box at the top of the page.