hair stylist at a salon

7 Career Paths for Licensed Cosmetologists

The beauty industry is a dynamic field that offers opportunities for those with a passion for hair, makeup, skincare, nails, and overall aesthetics. Among the professionals who make a mark in this industry are licensed cosmetologists. With their comprehensive training and expertise in various beauty techniques, licensed cosmetologists have access to a wide range of fulfilling and financially rewarding career paths. In California, cosmetologists are licensed for hair cutting, coloring, and styling as well as esthetics (skincare, makeup, facials, waxing, sugaring, brows, lashes, etc.) and manicuring (also known as nail tech). In this blog, we will explore some of the exciting job opportunities available for licensed cosmetologists.

1. Salon Stylist/Colorist:

Working as a salon stylist or colorist is one of the most common career paths for licensed cosmetologists. In this role, you can showcase your skills in cutting, styling, and coloring hair to create stunning transformations for your clients. You'll work closely with clients to understand their preferences, offer expert advice, and deliver exceptional results. A successful salon stylist/colorist can build a loyal clientele, earning a stable income and the opportunity for career growth within the salon.

2. Makeup Artist:

If you have a flair for enhancing natural beauty through makeup, pursuing a career as a makeup artist can be a perfect fit. As a licensed cosmetologist, you possess the technical skills required to create flawless makeup looks for various occasions such as weddings, fashion shows, photoshoots, or even working in the entertainment industry. You can work independently as a freelancer, offering on-location services, or collaborate with photographers, beauty brands, or bridal boutiques.

3. Nail Technician/Manicurist:

If you have a keen eye for detail and enjoy creating beautiful nail designs, pursuing a career as a nail technician or manicurist is an excellent choice. As a licensed cosmetologist specializing in nails, you'll provide a range of nail services such as manicures, pedicures, nail extensions, and nail art. You'll work with clients to understand their preferences and offer personalized nail treatments that enhance the beauty and health of their nails. Nail technicians can find employment in nail salons, spas, resorts, or even start their own nail salon business.

4. Esthetician/Skin Care Specialist:

With a solid foundation in skincare techniques, licensed cosmetologists can embark on a career as an esthetician or skincare specialist. In this role, you'll provide personalized skincare treatments, including facials, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and waxing, to help clients achieve healthy and radiant skin. You may find employment in high-end spas, wellness centers, dermatology clinics, or even start your own skincare clinic.

5. Platform Artist/Educator:

If you have a passion for teaching and sharing your knowledge, becoming a platform artist or educator can be a fulfilling career choice. In this role, you can work with renowned beauty brands, beauty schools, or industry conferences, conducting workshops, seminars, and demonstrations to train aspiring cosmetologists. As a platform artist, you'll have the opportunity to showcase your skills on stage, inspire others, and stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends.

6. Salon/Spa Manager:

For licensed cosmetologists who possess strong leadership and organizational skills, pursuing a career as a salon or spa manager can be an excellent option. In this role, you'll oversee the day-to-day operations of a salon or spa, manage staff, handle customer service, ensure a smooth workflow, and drive business growth. Being a manager allows you to combine your passion for beauty with business acumen and create a thriving workplace environment.

7. Salon Owner:

For licensed cosmetologists with an entrepreneurial spirit and a desire for greater control over their career, becoming a salon owner is a compelling option. As a salon owner, you have the opportunity to create and cultivate your own beauty haven, shaping the ambiance, services, and culture of the salon according to your vision.

While owning a salon requires dedication, business acumen, and effective management skills, it can be a rewarding and lucrative venture. As the owner, you have the potential to generate substantial income and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Additionally, you can expand your business by opening multiple salon locations, diversifying your services, or even launching your own line of beauty products.


Licensed cosmetologists have an array of exciting career opportunities available to them. Whether you choose to work directly with clients, specialize in a specific area, or explore avenues like education or management, the beauty industry offers a diverse range of paths to pursue. With your skills, creativity, and dedication, you can carve out a rewarding career as a licensed cosmetologist.

To learn more about getting your cosmetology license to do all services, or becoming an esthetician or nail tech, reach out to us.

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