What Does a Cosmetologist Do?

What Does a Cosmetologist Do?

If you have a passion for the beauty industry, or are fascinated by hair styling and nail design, cosmetology may be the perfect job for you.

Cosmetology is a career that is growing quickly, in which practitioners help beautify the hair, skin, and nails of their clients. Cosmetologists must undergo extensive study and training and be licensed by their state’s certifying board to practice their craft. Let's look closer at information on cosmetologists.

What is Cosmetology? What Does It Include?

Cosmetology is the art and science beautifying the hair, nails, and skin. A cosmetologist is an expert in applying cosmetic procedures, therapies, and treatments to beautify one’s outer appearance., and implementing cosmetic treatments to people’s hair, skin, and nails. Specific disciplines in cosmetology include hairstyling (haircutting and coloring), esthetics (skin care), makeup application, nail care (manicures and pedicures), and other beauty treatments.

What Tasks Does a Cosmetologist Do?

Cosmetologists may do several different types of jobs. Here are some of the most common disciplines in cosmetology, and typical tasks.

Hair Styling

Cosmetology includes hair styling, hair cutting, and hair coloring. Skills and tasks a hair stylist manages throughout the week include:

  • Washing, shampooing, drying, cutting hair
  • Shaping, cutting, texturing, styling, straightening, or curling hair
  • Coloring, tinting, lightening hair
  • Chemically changing hair texture, perms, relaxing hair
  • Braiding hair
  • Installing hair extensions or weaves


Hair styling usually refers to serving women, men, and children. Barbering has traditionally focused on male customers. Some of the skills and duties a barber performs are:

  • Cutting, trimming, shampooing, and styling hair
  • Shaving facial hair
  • Fitting hairpieces
  • Coloring, or perming hair
  • Performing facial treatments


An esthetician focuses on the field of skincare. Here are some of the common treatments a skin care specialist will perform:

  • Facials
  • Exfoliation
  • Skin conditioning and wrinkle reduction
  • Waxing, tweezing, eyebrow threading, and hair removal
  • Anti-aging treatments

Nail Technician

A nail technician works primarily with fingernails and toenails. Here are some of their beautification specialties:

  • Manicures
  • Pedicures
  • Nail artistry, nail jewelry
  • Gel nails, silk nails, and acrylic nails

Makeup Artist

A makeup artist may work in professional photography studios, cinema, special effects, fashion shows, weddings, or special events. These specialized cosmetologists know how different cosmetics interact with skin, and how to achieve certain looks and effects using makeup.


An electrologist uses special equipment to facilitate permanent hair removal. Electricity is applied to damaged hair follicles, so hair does not grow back. This field usually requires additional certification, due to the nature of the procedure.

Job Outlook for Cosmetologists

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that jobs for cosmetologists, barbers, and hairstylists will grow about 19 percent from 2020 to 2030, which is much faster than average. That trend is expected to continue.

Note: The data provided above are from a source unaffiliated with Campus, formerly known as MTI College, are for informational purposes only and represent the employment field as a whole. They are not solely specific to Campus graduates and, by providing the above information, Campus makes no representation, direct or implied, or opinion regarding employability.

Salary can vary for cosmetologists, but is usually better at higher paying salons, or for more experienced cosmetologists. For more information on cosmetologists, and their earning potential, check local salary sites.

Career Paths for Cosmetologists

Cosmetologists have multiple job opportunities. Many work at salons, spas, resorts, or lease a booth from a salon owner. Some cosmetologists open their own salon after several years of experience. spa, hotel, or resort. Some lease booth space from a salon owner. Some manage salons or open their own shop after several years of experience.

Some cosmetologists work in dermatology offices, or as makeup artists.

Interested in Becoming a Cosmetologist?

When students make the decision to enroll at Paul Mitchell the School at Campus, in Sacramento, they are given the tools they need to adequately prepare them for a career in cosmetology and beauty.

Succeeding as a Cosmetologist

Cosmetology is a profession that is built on human interaction. Building up a customer base depends not only on the skill of the cosmetologist, but also the trust and rapport they build with their clients. Customers put their faith in the expertise and professionalism of their cosmetologist. If you can make your customers feel great about themselves when they leave your salon chair, you can have a successful career in cosmetology. This is also a job that requires physical stamina, as you’ll spend a lot of time on your feet.

Cosmetology Programs

Most cosmetology licensure programs take several months and require education about cosmetology principles and methodologies. This is followed by a certain amount of salon hours, getting hands-on practice.

At the Paul Mitchell the School at Campus Cosmetology program, students learn:

  • An overview of the cosmetology industry
  • State of California rules and regulations, sanitation, and chemistry
  • Basic techniques in cutting, coloring, and styling for hair
  • Skin and nail care
  • Advanced makeup techniques

These theory hours are the foundation of training. Future cosmetology professionals then gain additional experience through hands-on practice and evaluation on the clinic floor. A more advanced creative training consists of customizing and combining technical elements of what they have already learned, through experience in our college salon. After this program, cosmetology students are ready for written and practical examinations for their cosmetology license with the California State Board.

Licensing and certifications required to be a cosmetologist

A written and practical (hands-on) examination is required to become a licensed cosmetologist in California. Licensing is done through the State of California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology. You can look up exam pass rates for all cosmetology schools in California (including Campus, formerly known as MTI College,) at the same website.

Once you have obtained your California cosmetology license, you can do work for clients, work in hair salons, as a makeup artist, or work for yourself and open your own salon. Your career path is entirely up to you. To take the initial step towards becoming a cosmetologist, read more information about MTI’s Cosmetology program here.

What is the Paul Mitchell School at Campus like?

This is a small look at what our cosmetology classes at Campus in Sacramento are like.

Take the first step towards being a licensed cosmetologist

Cosmetology is a fulfilling career that is growing over the next decade. Our Sacramento campus prepares you to succeed as a professional cosmetologist through out Paul Mitchell the School at Campus Cosmetology program.

If you are ready to take the next step towards becoming a licensed cosmetologist, contact us to request more information and get started today!

Next Steps