You can make six figures working at a salon. So sayeth the majority of beauty schools in the United States to potential students.
We at Destroy the Hairdresser have some umbrage to take with this idea. No, not the idea that six figures is possible, because with hard work above and beyond a forty hour work week and keeping that pace consistently for many, many years while still possibly working a second job, it is totally possible. Unfortunately, that extreme lifestyle is not touched on by cosmetology schools to prospective students. Thinkpress.org explains it in: “Why Beauty Schools Are A Rip Off For Many Graduates”
“Looking at data from the Department of Education’s gainful employment website, which collects paycheck information for graduates of higher education programs, David Wessel of the Brookings Institution found that average earnings for cosmetology school graduates are pretty dismal. Among 671 cosmetology programs across the country, graduates’ average earnings at 80 percent of them were below $15,000 a year. Graduates of most programs, or 60 percent, earned between $10,000 and $15,000. Meanwhile, those from just six could expect to earn more than $20,000 a year, while just one program produced graduates earning above $25,000.”
Hairdressers earn more than this study shows after growing a full time clientele but before then...let's say four years, the struggle is real to earn a livable income. Schools must do a better job about communicating this. Hair should not be a disappointment because the expectation of income is so high. Hairdressing is an art, something that takes time and growth, not something that comes with a salary built in. The first four years out of cosmetology school should be thought of as a graduate program and face it: most graduate students are broke.
With the growing amounts of schools that have access to government financial aid, many students are easily getting admitted to school not comprehending how much money they will owe versus realistic income just out of school. These schools can cost upwards of $30,000 and with high interest rates and payments that kick in right after graduation, many become bitter when their financial success doesn’t pan out immediately.
It should be a school's job to be up front about this subject and educate students about the path to financial success. Students need to evaluate why they want to go to school in the first place. Are they into art? Do they like the medium of hair, or are they being enticed by all the money to be made? If you do something you love then the money will come, if you do it for the money you may find yourself burned.