Beyond the Salon: Unexpected Jobs in the Beauty Industry
Are you obsessed with all things beauty but not feeling the vibe of salon work? No problem! There are dozens of other non-salon jobs out there for cosmetologists who have professional beauty training.
Whether you’re looking to work from home (or your van), prefer animals to people, want to serve your community, or have a good head for business, there’s a whole world of beauty careers out there waiting to be discovered. In this guide, we’ve rounded up some of the best out-of-the-box alternatives to the usual salon-job suspects.
On-the-Go Beauty Professional Jobs
The COVID-19 pandemic helped many people realize the numerous benefits and joys that remote work can offer. So why shouldn’t beauty professionals be able to experience these as well? Fortunately, cosmetology jobs are available for those who want to make travel part of their work or would like the freedom of mobility.
Cruise Ship and Resort Cosmetologists and Estheticians
When people stay on cruise ships or resorts, they’re looking for pampering. Cue the cosmetologists and estheticians! Services available on ships and in resorts include your typical haircut and manicure, as well as other more luxurious treatments.
Plus, you have a chance to see some of the most beautiful locations in the world and work with a global clientele with disposable income. Note that you may need to earn certification from CIDESCO, CIBTAC, IBISC, or other international body offering certifications in the beauty industry.
If you want to perform nail services but would rather not rent salon booth space or be tied to one salon, why not take your nail game on the road? Mobile manicurists have unlimited options for reaching clients, making them the ideal choice for weddings, theatrical events, fashion or beauty shows, bachelorette parties or wedding showers, and tourist settings.
Estheticians, also known as skin care specialists, are exclusively focused on providing services for the skin. Whereas many estheticians work in salons or spas, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that 28% of skin care specialists are self-employed, and many may opt to offer mobile services at homes, businesses, or other locations.
Depending on their states’ requirements, estheticians may be required to be fully licensed cosmetologists, or they may only need esthetician licenses, which generally require fewer training hours.
Careers for Animal-Loving Cosmetologists
The pet care services industry is hot and growing fast. Pet owners are more willing than ever to spend money on luxurious products and services for their furry friends. This might mean you can put both your beauty training and affinity for animals to use at work!
The trend of grooming and painting dogs’ nails is catching on in a big way—in Japan, numerous pet grooming salons offer decoration for animals’ claws. Though it’s possible to work in such a role without any formal training, your manicuring studies are likely to serve you well in terms of safety and sanitation, maintaining a steady hand, and demonstrating nail artistry. Some training in pet grooming may also help prepare you for this role.
Some dog groomers offer pooches the star treatment! For example, Mobile Dog Groomers Long Island will come right to you with show-dog styling services and stylish scissor and razor cuts. Secret Garden Hair and Grooming in Studio City, Calif., will style what it calls “Bougie Dogs” with fashionable haircuts, blow-outs, and more. Some dog grooming training or experience may be required or preferred.
Professional Lice Remover
OK, so it’s hard to think of “lice” as animals—certainly not animals to love. But if you love humans (particularly young ones) and aren’t squeamish, there’s a real demand for professional lice removal. The industry is projected to grow rapidly, and it’s an opportunity to be someone’s hero, arriving in their moment of desperation.
Cosmetology professionals skilled at shampooing, applying treatments, and gently and thoroughly combing and brushing hair can turn someone’s terrible experience into something resembling luxury.
Event-Related Beauty Jobs
Whether you’re preparing models for the runway, a bride and her bridesmaids for the aisle, or a TV personality for her closeup, event-related occupations can give you great public and media exposure and expose you to today’s hottest trends.
Bridal Hairstylist or Makeup Artist
When you consider how many brides have spent their whole lives dreaming of their big day and how often their wedding photos are prominently displayed, it’s easy to see why the work of bridal hairstylists and makeup artists is so fulfilling.
One big benefit of working wedding events is word of mouth; couples and their relatives, and other vendors like photographers, are likely to refer talented beauty professionals to future brides. It also gives you a chance to perform elaborate up-dos and creative bridal looks.
Fashion Show Stylist
The people who produce fashion shows employ cosmetology experts to style hair and apply makeup to accentuate the fashions. You’re not just following trends in this work—you’re setting them. Build your portfolio by offering to do hair and makeup for local theater companies or nonprofit events. You might also explore cosmetology programs that emphasize fashion, stage, or event work.
Advertising Jobs for Cosmetologists and Estheticians
If you’re interested in working at the intersection of beauty and business, advertising and marketing work might be a great fit. It allows you to play with cosmetic products and showcase them at their best, or style models or stage and screen personalities.
These beauty pros are the creative minds behind magazine spreads, billboards, TV commercials, or social media posts. Their work helps cast people, companies, and products in the best possible light to sell products or services or complement editorial pieces.
You’ll need a formal cosmetology education, of course, but to crack into an editorial stylist career, it also helps to start building a portfolio. Make connections with area photographers and look for opportunities to style hair or makeup for their shoots, or reach out directly to local advertising agencies or local media outlets to offer your services.
Cosmetic Product Stylist
Ever wonder who makes cosmetic products themselves look so good in advertisements? Cosmetic product stylists, of course! Those artful lipstick smears or eyeshadow crumbles in magazine ads, TV commercials, and billboards didn’t just happen by chance. They were the work of talented product stylists who not only have mad beauty skills but also an artistic eye and years of experience handling and understanding beauty products to showcase them artistically.
Beauty Industry Jobs for Body Artists
Your beauty training is also excellent preparation for a career in body art. As tattoos, piercings, and other adornments on the skin increase in popularity, the possibilities for beautifying customers’ bodies are nearly endless.
Bikini Wax Design
As body waxing—from brows to bikini areas—has increased in popularity, clients have gotten more creative with where they want their wax applied and how to style the hair “down there.” Whether it’s a modest bikini-area triangle, a “landing strip,” or their partner’s initials, body hair makes for a whole new kind of palette for beauty pros and clients to express their creativity.
Training in esthetics or cosmetology is generally necessary for this job, but waxing salons typically provide in-house training for their specific products and processes.
Body and Hair Bedazzler
You can bedazzle, so why not vajazzle? Yep, some clients go beyond waxing and choose to add jewels, gems, and glitter to their skin to add sparkle. This involves fully waxing the skin and applying the jewels, which come with a strong, skin-friendly adhesive that goes on invisibly. As with bikini hair design, this is not a career for modest.
Beauty professionals can also use their skills to add charms and gems to hair and other body parts, like the face, neck, chest, and stomach.
Permanent Makeup Artist
Permanent makeup artists, like tattoo artists, work with special ink and tools to apply permanent makeup to clients’ skin. Permanent makeup may include more cosmetic, decorative work such as permanent eyeliner or lip pigment, but it may also include helping people with skin blemishes, botched cosmetic procedures, or scars to feel more confident.
Your cosmetology training is certainly beneficial, particularly if it included training in permanent makeup or tattooing. Depending on your state’s requirements, you may also need a tattooing license.
Theatrical Careers in Beauty
For many people, the choice to pursue a career in beauty is about exploring an art form. Hair design, makeup, and even special effects can allow beauty pros to explore the bounds of their creativity while also playing a major role on stage or screen.
TV or Movie Makeup Artist or Hairstylist
Production studios typically employ hairdressers and makeup artists to showcase actors or TV and film personalities at their best and to prepare them for the camera. The work can be glamorous, rubbing elbows with stars, but it can also involve high-pressure situations, working with difficult personalities, and long hours on your feet.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most of these jobs are in California, New York, Louisiana, the District of Columbia, and Texas. Though these types of jobs are often few and far between, the pay can be significant.
Special Effects Makeup Artist
Behind every Gollum, Grinch, and goblin you see on stage or film is a talented special effects artist who brought that character to life with the ingenious use of latex prosthetics, makeup, and more.
Cosmetology schools often offer classes in special effects makeup, or you can take individual courses at specialized makeup academies that last one to two months. If this field sounds interesting, you might even want to look into full special effects makeup programs.
Beauty Careers for Extroverts
Do you enjoy putting yourself in the spotlight, engaging with strangers, and public speaking? If you possess these traits, several careers might be a great fit for you.
In this sales-oriented career, you’ll be the face of cosmetics companies and talk up their products to salons and other beauty professionals or cosmetology schools. The work may involve demonstrating how products work, offering guidance on their use, or even training others to use or sell them to their customers.
These public-facing individuals provide marketing or public relations messaging about cosmetics companies, techniques, and more. They share posts, photos, and videos to spark followers’ interest in brands.
Being a beauty influencer takes more than just good marketing and cosmetology savvy; you also need creativity, charisma, and a willingness to put in a lot of time and energy building a following and being in the public eye.
Yes, this is a thing. Also known as sensory scientists, face feelers help cosmetics companies with product testing by feeling customers’ faces after using a product, then objectively judging the products’ effects. It takes face feelers considerable skin care knowledge, rigorous screening to ensure tactile sensitivity, and a few months of training to learn how to effectively and clinically describe what they feel.
Helping Careers for Estheticians and Cosmetologists
They say beauty is only skin deep, but for those who are elderly, ill, disabled, or otherwise in need, the services a beauty professional offers can be incredibly meaningful and contribute to their self-esteem and well-being.
Wigs are fun for dressing up, but remember that a wig provides a sense of normalcy and confidence for many struggling with hair loss, alopecia, or the effects of chemotherapy. Training in haircare, styling, and coloring is critical to making wigs, but it might also be valuable to take a wig-making course to learn how to work with synthetic hair or operate the machinery used to make wigs.
Also called desairologists, mortuary makeup artists perform an important, often underappreciated service: applying cosmetics to the deceased for viewing by their loved ones. This rewarding career takes scientific curiosity, comfort around dead bodies, and plenty of empathy.
Cosmetologist for a Cause
There is considerable demand for cosmetologists who are willing to put their talents to use helping their fellow humans.
Whether it’s giving haircuts to the roughly 54 million Americans with a disability, working with an organization that offers shampoos and haircare services to those experiencing homelessness, offering need-based haircuts to those with autism or sensory issues, or providing services to the elderly, cause-based cosmetology work can be meaningful and satisfying.
Just as tattoo artistry has grown in popularity in recent years, so has tattoo removal. Since 2011, demand for tattoo removal services has increased by 32% and is expected to increase by 18% every year over the next few years.
Tattoo regret is certainly a driving factor in this growth, but for those who were the victims of human trafficking, were former gang members, have served prison time, or have tattoos that may prohibit them from making positive changes in their lives, tattoo removal can be a cause worth contributing toward. It may be necessary to take courses in tattoo removal or work as an apprentice.
Follicle Tattoo Artist
For people struggling with hair loss, a follicle tattoo, also known as scalp micropigmentation, can help create the illusion of hair, helping boost the customer’s self-esteem. Follicle tattooing is a meticulous process involving super-fine needles that make thousands of tiny impressions on the scalp to inject pigment, so specialized training is often required.