Choosing a Beauty Career Path

If you are interested in working in the beauty industry but aren’t sure which career path or license to pursue, we have dozens of guides so you can explore your options.

Popular Beauty Careers

cosmetologists applying makeup and hair treatments to a client

Cosmetologists have the most flexibility to perform a wide range of beauty services, including on hair, skin, and nails.

esthetician massaging client's face

Estheticians, sometimes called aestheticians or skincare specialists, provide makeup and skincare treatments in spas, salons, and medical facilities.

barber cutting client's hair

If you want to focus on short hair and facial hair, barbering is for you. Though barbers have traditionally worked with men, gender of the client isn't as relevant to the career as it once was.

nail tech painting client's nails

Nail Technician
Also called manicurists or manicurists and pedicurists, nail techs beautify hands and feet.

makeup artist applying makeup to client's face

Makeup Artist
Makeup artists provide makeup application services. This career doesn't always require a license, but in some states you need an esthetician or cosmetologist license to provide makeup services.

hair stylist styling client's hair

Hairstylists, sometimes called hairdressers, can provide essential hair services like updos and shampooing. They usually need a cosmetology license and sometimes a specialized hairstylist license to cut, dye, or offer other major treatments.

electrologist removing client's facial hair

Electrologists are trained in electrolysis, which is the technique of using electricity to damage clients' hair follicles to permanently remove hair on many parts of the body.

permanent makeup artist giving client an eyebrow treatment

Permanent Makeup Artist
Permanent makeup artists use equipment to inject pigment into clients’ skin. Their services include helping cover up scars, giving the appearance of fuller eyebrows, different colored lips, and more.

Laser Hair Removal Technician removing client's leg hair

Laser Hair Removal Technician
Laser hair removal technicians use concentrated light to permanently remove unwanted hair from their clients' bodies.

hair braiding

Natural Hair Braider
Hair braiders, sometimes called natural hair stylists, offer locking, braiding, and many other popular and protective services. This does not require a license in many states.

massage therapist

Massage Therapist
Massage therapists manipulate muscles and soft tissue to help clients relax and heal.

salon management

Salon Manager
Stepping into a business-focused role, salon managers keep salons running smoothly. Some also own their salons, and many opt to spend some time working with clients.

beauty instructor

Cosmetology Instructor
Educators are essential to the success of future beauty pros. That's where cosmetology instructors come in.

Advancing Your Cosmetology or Esthetics License

For those with a cosmetology license or an esthetician license, you may consider more niche specialty careers.

READ MORE: What is the difference between a cosmetologist and an esthetician?

Beauty Careers in the Health Field

Whether you’re transitioning from one industry into another or trying to find the perfect niche for your specific passions and skills, there are some career paths that cross over between beauty and medical fields.

READ MORE: Nursing to Beauty, Beauty to Nursing: Making the Transition

Career Resources for Beauty Professionals

Other Career Discovery Guides

Planning Your Education Path

Select a beauty program and state to view schools