If you are interested in cosmetology and want to pursue it as a career, the very first step is to understand what it is and what the profession entails. Some knowledge of what a cosmetologist does is also essential. In simple words, a cosmetologist’s job is to perform different cosmetic procedures. This may include hair styling, hair cutting, shampooing, manicure, pedicure, makeup, etc.
There is no doubt that your career in cosmetology can be very rewarding, but you can only enjoy full benefits of it upon mastering the required skill set. Another critical determinant of success is our determination towards this profession.
Even though the occupation is open for all, the average age of cosmetologists in Alabama is 36 years. Gender preference is not significant in this case but 53% of the cosmetologists in the region are females while the other 47% are males.
Cosmetologists are sought after all over the world. It is a lucrative career where you can tap thousands of opportunities and make best use of your creative side. It is definitely an area of expertise that requires individuals to stay updated with style and innovation.
Particularly in the State of Alabama, this a flourishing occupation. However, only individuals who are regulated and licensed by the Alabama Board of cosmetology and barbering are allowed to act professionally.
As a professional, your job would entail arranging, bleaching, braiding, cleansing, coloring, curling, cutting, waxing and weaving hair. The job description also includes services related to skin and nails such as manicure, pedicure, esthetic practices and nail technology. Use of creams, lotions, cosmetic preparations on the scalp, arms, hands, feet and legs are inclusive. In fact, job of makeup artists also falls under cosmetology.
The hair, skin care and makeup industry in Alabama is booming. Now is the right time to pursue your interest in cosmetology. According to data, overall salon sales in the state summed up to $627 million. This clarifies why over 4000 people are employed in different salons in Alabama. There are opportunities in various departments including hairstyling, manicuring and makeup artistry.
Ideally, in order to do good in this profession it is recommended to attain appropriate training and certification. If the aim is to obtain a valid license in Alabama, you must follow a few steps. Below are the basic steps:
Step 1: Attend a Cosmetology Program and Learn About the Requirements
In order to attain a license in Alabama, you must first complete minimum 1500 training hours at a professional program offered by a reputed cosmetology institute. These programs are offers by various beauty school, vocational schools and at junior colleges. You can enroll in one and get a certificate, diploma or associate degree. You may select an option depending on where you wish to work.
Another option is to get an associate degree, which can be obtained in the form of an Associate in Applied Science or an Associate in Science. These usually have additional classes which focus on salon and business management. It is not essential to have a degree in order to apply for license but it is the ideal next step for anyone who hopes to pursue a bachelor’s degree is related field such as health and beauty management or salon and spa management. Number of working hours and experience is also an important determinant. In addition to the degree, you shall have over 750 hours of work experience to be a manicurist. 1000 hours of work experience is expected from anyone who applies for an esthetician license.
A good cosmetology program will prepare you to apply and work in the best beauty salons, nail salons and spas in Alabama. Therefore, by simply completing a cosmetology course approved by the board, you can prepare yourself for a satisfying career in the local salon industry.
Many people choose to learn via apprenticeship instead of taking the cosmetology program route. For this, you will have to complete minimum 3000 working hours within 3 years under supervision of a licensed cosmetologist. If you wish to get a license in Alabama via apprenticeship, you have to complete minimum 1200 hours within a time span of 2 years. For an esthetician license in the state, you have to have at least 2000 clock hours within 2 years.
Note that you should be over 16 years of age to qualify for registration in a cosmetology apprenticeship program in Alabama. It is expected that you have passed grade 10 or completed high school education.
After completing training, both you and the instructor are responsible for applying for the examination within 120 days. The sponsors for apprentices are expected to clarify how much time is remaining from the date of completion.
Step 2: Apply to Alabama Board of Cosmetology and Barbering for the License
After you complete any of the aforementioned training, you have 2 years to apply for the license. If you do not apply for your license within this period, the Board might require you to complete some extra training hours before applying for licensure. As mentioned above, you must meet the apprenticeship or educational requirements to qualify for a license in Alabama. You should also be more than 16 years old. The registration cost is $75. After completing the license application, which has an additional $40 fee, you will be informed by the Board if you are ready to sit for the examinations.
Step 3: Sit for the Required Cosmetology Exams
After completion of training programs, it is time to take the Alabama cosmetology exams. Only if you pass these examinations, you will be awarded a license. The exam is classified into 2 parts: A written or theory exam, and a practical exam. The Alabama Board of Cosmetology and Barbering recognizes the National Cosmetology Examination conducted by the National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology as the written exam. This exam is used by 29 states at present. The examination is managed by PSI Exams. You can contact the authority at 1-800-733-9267 and schedule your written exam. Time allocated for the test will be 90 minutes. You will have to score at least 70 points to pass. You can take the test at any one of the following PSI testing locations in Alabama: Birmingham, Mobile, Huntsville and Montgomery.
Upon passing the written test, you can move to the practical part of the examination. You can schedule the latter by contacting Professional Credentialing Services at 1-888-822-3272. The board utilizes NIC’s practical exam, like 14 other states. These exams are held in Birmingham, Mobile, Montgomery and North Alabama.
You will find abundant information on pattern and ways to prepare for both the written and practical examination on various reliable online sources. Remember to stay updated about the upcoming exam dates.
Step 4: Always Ensure That Your Cosmetology License is Current and Up-to-date
Even after you are granted the license and permission to practice as a professional, you must be careful at all times. It is essential to renew the license and keep it updated. Note that, in Alabama, licenses for cosmetologist, manicurists, estheticians, eyebrow threaders and natural hair stylist, expire on the last day of license holder’s birth month, on every odd numbered year. Personal licenses for barbers have to be renewed on even numbered years before the last day of their birth month.
If you ignore the expiration date and start the procedure late, you will be charged a late fee of $50. In case your license remains expired for more than 4 years, you will have to pass the practical exam again to apply for renewal. After that, you will have to pay relevant fees and proceed for renewal.
The cost of renewal is this state is $80. The process is not very complicated as you can renew your cosmetologist license online as well. If you prefer to print out the form and mail it, you can do that as well. Remember to read the requirements carefully and send all documents requested by the authority. If all documents are not sent and requirements are not fulfilled, the application will be returned to the candidate.
The Alabama Department of Labor also revealed that average earning of cosmetologists in this region is $23620 annually. Professionals get hourly wage of $11.35. For entry level employees, the rate is around $16730 per year and their wage rate is $8.05 per hour. Experienced level cosmetologists, on the other hand, get annual salary of $27060 and hourly wage $13.01.
You must understand that the pay rate in different cities of Alabama vary from the average projected above. 2 individuals may receive different salary depending on their experience, expertise and knowledge. However, another critical deciding factor is the location of business. Usually, if the standard of living and cost of living in a city is high, the cosmetologist’s salary can be expected to be higher as well. For example, top income of cosmetologists in Birmingham can be as high as $52,953 while a professional of similar qualification would earn $43,429 in Mobile, Alabama.
While the aforementioned figures suggest base income, it is customary to tip service provider in this line of work. This is what increases the take-home earnings. Before you venture into a career of your choice, it is recommended to compare salaries with other professions. You must also look into factors like potential for raises, scope of promotion and health benefits that can act as variable.
Opportunity for Career Improvement
Data published by the Alabama Department of Labor revealed that approximately 8290 hairstylists, hairdresser and other cosmetologists were employed in the state back in 2010. The number is increasing ever year and it is expected to reach as high as 9030 by 2020. There is roughly 0.86% growth rate every year. For this reason, the department posted the optimistic forecast that there will be 230 new jobs each year until 2020.
In Alabama, there is no requirement that a professional cosmetologist has to continue education for the cosmetology license. However, it is very common for individuals to choose to enhance their knowledge and expertise in the field. One of the major reasons behind this is that the industry is a creative one and innovation lies at its core.
New styles and trends arrive after every few months and if experts do not stay up to date, they will lose clients. They must constantly educate themselves about hair and makeup trends.
If you choose to continue your cosmetology education, there are some national and state associations which offer excellent options. You can look into Professional Beauty Association, Salon and Spa Association, and Salon Spa Professional Association if you wish to continue education.
After a few years on the job, you can opt to become a cosmetology teacher or instructor. You can conduct apprentice programs and supervise new comers in the industry. This job pays significantly more. In fact, the hourly rate and salary increases as you gather more experience. Someone who is employed for a longer period with the same employer gets more payment. To become an instructor, you will first have to enroll in a licensed school which offers instruction training program. You will have to take and pass both parts of the instructor exam to be eligible to practice.
Many cosmetologists recognize that only expertise in hair, skincare and makeup will not help neutralize competition. They gather additional education and training in other areas such as marketing and business. The aim is to have a clear understanding on how to set up and run a successful salon. Most cosmetologists open up their own shop after a few years of experience.