Cosmetology Instructor Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

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What are the pros and cons of a career in cosmetology instruction? Get real job descriptions, career outlook and salary information to see if becoming a cosmetology instructor is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Cosmetology Instructor Career

If you're interested in making people look their best, and you want to teach those skills to others, you may want to consider a career as a cosmetology instructor. Learn more about the pros and cons of becoming a cosmetology instructor below.

Pros of a Career in Cosmetology Instruction
Some positions require only licensing and experience*
Schedule may be flexible*
Helping others learn can be enjoyable and rewarding*
Can teach in different settings (vocational or career school, technical college, beauty school, etc.)*

Cons of a Career in Cosmetology Instruction
Slow job growth for career and technical education teachers (5% growth from 2012-2022)*
Postsecondary schools are creating more part-time instructor positions, rather than full-time*
Must work around harsh chemicals*
The job can be physically demanding (performing demonstrations, spending a lot of time on your feet, etc.)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career Information

Job Description

Cosmetology instructors teach students at vocational, technical, beauty and even high schools. As a cosmetology instructor, you're responsible for teaching various subjects, such as hair cutting, coloring and styling, safety and sanitation, nail care, chemicals and salon experience. You must communicate with students and motivate them to become outstanding cosmetologists. You're responsible for providing clear and informative lessons, demonstrations and guidance throughout the course. Aside from maintaining a well-organized classroom or lab, you must be able to assess students' coursework and grade them according to the standards set forth by your school.

Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the median annual salary for postsecondary vocational teachers was around $48,000 as of May 2014. The median annual salary for career and technical education teachers at the secondary level was around $55,000, according to BLS data from May 2014. Specific salary data for cosmetologists was unavailable.

Career Outlook

According to the BLS, job growth for career and technical education teachers at the secondary level was predicted to be slower than average, 5% from 2012-2022. The BLS expected job growth for these workers to coincide with the level of enrollment in public and private schools. On the other hand, the BLS predicted that job growth for postsecondary vocational education teachers would increase at an average pace of 12% from 2012-2022.

What Are the Requirements?

In order to become a cosmetology instructor, you must obtain a cosmetology license. State requirements for a cosmetology license vary, but they typically require you to complete an approved cosmetology or cosmetology instruction program. These programs may lead to a diploma or associate's degree, and you must complete a certain number of clinical hours. Upon completion of a cosmetology program, you must take and pass your state's cosmetology exam. You will need to obtain work experience in the cosmetology field in order to qualify for an instructor position.

What Employers Are Looking for

Most employers looked for a licensed cosmetologist with several years of salon experience. Aside from licensing and experience, most employers focused on personal and professional skills. Here are a few example of job postings found in May 2012:

  • A California postsecondary school placed an ad for a licensed cosmetology instructor with at least 3 years of experience in the field. Applicants must be organized and have excellent communication and interpersonal skills.
  • A Florida career institution looked for a licensed, professional cosmetologist to instruct students, motivate and assess students, provide hands-on training and attend meetings.
  • An Illinois school advertised for a licensed cosmetology instructor with at least 2 years of salon experience and up-to-date knowledge of cosmetology practices. Applicants must have excellent communication skills and be able to multitask.

How to Maximize Your Skills

You can stand out in the field by obtaining salon experience and keeping up with the latest trends and techniques in the cosmetology field. As a cosmetology instructor, it's important to know of the newest products and tools. In addition to honing your skills and staying up-to-date in the cosmetology field, you may want to join the Professional Beauty Association (PBA). The PBA provides cosmetology professionals with a range of discounts, event invites, continuing education and industry research.

Other Careers to Consider

If you want to work in the cosmetology field, but you're concerned about less-than-stellar job growth for cosmetology instructors, you may want to consider a career in the fast-growing skincare field. As a skincare specialist, you might provide clients with skincare treatments, head and neck massages, hair removal and more. You typically must complete a skincare certificate or diploma program and obtain a license. The BLS predicted that job growth in this field would increase by 25% from 2010-2020, and the median annual salary for these workers was around $29,000 as of May 2011.

If the cosmetology field sounds appealing, but teaching isn't your style, consider becoming a cosmetologist. Just like cosmetology instructors, cosmetologists must complete a certificate or associate's degree program and obtain a state license, except you typically do not need several years' experience to start. Employment for cosmetologists was expected to grow by 14% from 2010-2020, and the median annual salary for these workers was around $26,000, according to BLS data in May 2011.

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