Known for its natural beauty, South Dakota is also a great place to embark upon a career in the beauty industry. With an unemployment rate of only 3.3 percent, low taxes and a low cost of living there are ample job opportunities with good potential earnings for all beauty specialties.
As a cosmetologist, esthetician, nail technician, barber or makeup artist, you can opt to work full or part-time either as a paid employee or independent contractor. In all cases, salaries are augmented by tips which are usually between 10 and 25 percent of the cost of the service performed. Makeup artists often work for cosmetics companies which provide commissions for products sold in addition to a base salary.
Beauty salons will either directly hire you as an employee, or may rent you a chair for a fee, allowing you to develop your own clientele. In the latter case South Dakota requires you to have both a booth rental license and a personal license as a cosmetologist, esthetician or nail technician.
You will have to complete 2,100 hours of beauty school instruction and pass the State Cosmetology Commission’s exam in order to become a licensed cosmetologist in South Dakota. There are six beauty schools recognized by the South Dakota Cosmetology Commission. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data for 2013 show that there are 890 actively employed cosmetologists in South Dakota whose earnings are as follows.
There are differences in the annual salaries of cosmetologists in various locations. South Dakota is an anomaly in that a nonmetropolitan area has higher cosmetology salaries than the largest cities. It is noted that BLS salaries do not include tips/gratuities.
If you want to be a licensed skin specialist in South Dakota you’ll have to spend a minimum of 600 hours training at an accredited beauty school and pass the State Cosmetology Commission esthetician’s exam. According to the BLS, the national earnings of estheticians are as follows:
However, an online survey of the average annual salaries for esthetician jobs lists South Dakota salaries as follows:
- Statewide – $30,000
- Rapid City – $32,000
- Sioux Falls – $33,000
Nail Technician Salary
You’ll need 400 hours of beauty school training and a passing grade on the state exam in order to become a licensed nail technician in South Dakota where the BLS (2013) reports that the 50 nail technicians employed in the state earn the following:
As a barber you will serve primarily male clients. In order to receive your South Dakota barber’s license you must complete 1,500 hours of training in a barbering program where you will learn to shampoo, cut, trim, style, dye and shave both head and facial hair. You must also pass the barber exam given by the South Dakota Board of Barber Examiners. South Dakota is unique in that licensed barbers work in barber shops but cannot be employed by beauty salons. Likewise, licensed cosmetologists cannot work in barber shops. There are approximately 120 licensed barber shops in the state.
According to the BLS, barbers earn a mean annual salary of $27,710 nationally, with a starting salary of $17,370 and a high range of $44,190.
The website barbersalary.com lists the following annual salaries (high to low) for barbers in South Dakota cities.
It is noted that Pierre is the State Capital. Sioux Falls, Rapid City and Watertown are the first, second and fifth largest cities in the state while Elk Point and Eagle Butte are small towns with populations of about 2000 and 1,318 respectively.
Makeup Artist Salaries
You will not need a license to be a makeup artist in South Dakota; however, you’ll want to complete an accredited makeup artist certification training program. You can specialize in either theatrical/production or personal appearance makeup but there are very few opportunities for theatrical makeup artists in South Dakota. If you elect to be a personal appearance makeup artist potential employers include beauty salons, spas, resorts, bridal boutiques, morticians, cosmetics stores/companies or individual clients.
The BLS reports that personal makeup artists can expect to earn the following nationally: