Cosmetology Careers – Ten Outside-the-Box Jobs You Can Pursue With a Cosmetology License

Oct 10 2022

Infographic of 10 outside of the box jobs you can pursue with a Cosmetology license

Congratulations on choosing to enter one of the most marketable fields in today’s economy! Glassdoor even listed hair styling as a job that can’t be replaced by robots. There are so many things you can do if you hold a cosmetology license. Working as a stylist in a salon is the most common career path directly out of school — and while that’s a great gig, there are other ways you can trade your cosmetology skills for a paycheck. Here are our top 10 alternative ways to use your cosmetology license, and the types of personalities that excel in them.

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1. Fashion Show Stylist

If you runway-stomp around the house, once saved over a year for a Marc Jacobs top, or are on your some-teenth viewing of The Devil Wears Prada, you’ll thrive behind the scenes where the fashion action is. People around the world watch the runways for hair and makeup inspiration, so those who excel as fashion show stylists are artistic, risk-takers, and team players. They must be able to collaborate creatively with designers to bring their vision to life.

Person sitting behind the scenes of a fashion show

2. Editorial/ Advertising Stylist

Editorial and advertising stylists prep models for editorial or commercial photo shoots. While most start out represented by an agency, it becomes easier to strike out independently after building up a great portfolio and industry cred. These stylists must be very versatile, organized, and able to execute a wide variety of looks from sweet girl-next-door to über-freaky.

3. Platform Artist

Platform artists are a combination of live entertainers, teachers, and master stylists. This cool job brings stylists to different locations, performing onstage at beauty and hair shows and other industry events to demonstrate collections, products and techniques on live models. Platform artists have to be quick on their feet, well-spoken, knowledgeable about what they’re teaching, and naturally comfortable taking center stage.

4. Celebrity/ Personality Stylist

Doing hair and makeup for big names seems like a glamour position, and in some ways it is — but make no mistake, it’s a very demanding role! Whether you’re styling Kate Upton for the red carpet, getting Florence Welch ready for a live show, or prepping your local TV anchor for the six o’clock news, you’ll need a lot of patience, flexibility, time management skills, and the technical expertise it takes to make temperamental personalities happy when their pictures pop up on TMZ.

5. Artistic Director for Salons or Brands

These are the pros who lead the creative direction, imagery, and vision of a beauty company. They come up with hairstyles, colors, and techniques they predict will be on trend for the coming season, so it’s imperative that artistic directors are fashion-forward, inventive, and bold. They also need the skills to execute these looks, document them (on photo or video), and be able to teach them (to the company staff or to the public). These personality types are very trend-conscious, good communicators, and can multi-task with the best of them.

6. Cosmetology Educator/ Instructor

Teaching your knowledge to up-and-coming cosmetologists is a super rewarding career option. Instruction can take place in a number of settings: in a salon, a cosmetology institute, a college or university, or in advanced workshops or classes in various locations. Cosmetology instructors have to be great students themselves, as they must pass advanced training and be willing to constantly learn new skills and techniques to teach. They must be great visual and verbal communicators, patient, and able to work with a variety of personalities and learning styles.

7. Salon Owner or Manager

This is a great role for cosmetologists who are interested in running a company and leading a team. Though a good head for business and leadership qualities are essential for this job, these are skills that can be taught. What can’t be taught is the perseverance, people skills, fortitude, and work ethic it takes to run the show — from overseeing a training program to managing retail inventory to making sure that salon guests are happy and motivated to come back.

Woman doing another woman's hair in a salon

8. Salon Development Partner

These are regional representatives of a large brand who work with partnering salons to help them succeed. They educate salon teams about new and existing products and techniques; coach them in business planning and management; and act as a liaison between the salon and the brand. Salon Development Partners should be interested in both business and beauty, enjoy travel and working with people, and be a poised, polished ambassador for their brand.

9. Aveda Purefessional™

Part salesperson and part educator, Purefessionals™ represent the Aveda brand, and travel to salons to educate service providers about new trends, techniques and products from Aveda, and how to use them. They are experts about Aveda, its mission and vision, and can get other stylists interested and excited about it, too. Purefessionals™ have to be willing to learn and teach; they should excel at motivation and communication, and must keep their cosmetology skills on point for demonstrations and product training classes.

10. Stylist for Film & Theater

Getting actors ready for scenes in front of a TV or film camera is different than getting them ready for the stage, but the concept is the same: you have to transform people into the characters they’re playing. This sometimes involves doing research into hair and makeup looks from the past, and always involves being skilled in using a wide variety of products and techniques to totally alter someone’s appearance. Styling for theater involves knowing how to create looks that hold up to bright stage lights and that can be seen from the back row. Film and theater stylists have to be extremely versatile, creative, and willing to do their homework, and must be able to work long hours on all-day shoots or back-to-back performances.

Woman fixing a model's look on set

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