With its craggy coastline and many forests, the beautiful state of Washington is an ideal place to work in an industry that focuses on enhancing the beauty of its inhabitants. The State Department of Licensing sets educational requirements and administers board examinations for all beauty occupations. Washington is unique in requiring license applicants to complete a certain number of both school and paid apprenticeship hours; however, there are many schools at which you can fulfill the requirements.
Salaries in Washington are higher than national averages. Keep in mind that most salary tables, like those issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), do not include tips which add considerably to total incomes. In addition to excellent salaries you’ll have the freedom to work full or part-time and as a salaried employee or independent contractor. Freelance opportunities include renting a salon chair/booth for a monthly fee or offering services in client homes. You’ll need a certain amount of business savvy and marketing skills if you elect to take the independent route. In any case, your first step is to decide which beauty occupation you are best suited for.
If you want to become a licensed cosmetologist in Washington you’ll have to complete 1,600 hours of beauty school training and 2,000 apprentice hours and pass the board exam which covers hairdressing/styling, nail technology and skin care. According to the BLS, cosmetologist salaries are considerably higher in Washington than nationally:
Annual cosmetologist salaries in various Washington cities are:
Cosmetologist salaries in nonmetropolitan areas tend to be higher in Northwestern and Eastern Washington and lower in central and southern parts of the state where salaries for experienced workers rarely exceed $40,000.
Esthetician Salaries in Washington State
In order to join the 900 estheticians (skin specialists) currently working in Washington you’ll need to complete 600 school and 800 apprenticeship hours and pass the exam. As a licensed esthetician you’ll have the potential to earn a very nice income. The BLS reports (2013) the following annual salaries for Washington estheticians.
Washington Nail Technicians in Washington
The requirements for a Washington nail technician license are 600 school and 800 apprenticeship hours plus passing the board exam. According to the 2013 BLS report, the 1,780 nail technicians working in Washington earn the following annual salaries:
Makeup Artist Salaries in Washington
Makeup artists are not licensed in Washington; however, you’ll probably need a cosmetologist or esthetician license to get hired by a salon or spa. There are very few opportunities for a viable career as a theatrical makeup artist in Washington; however personal makeup artists do very well working for salons, spas, bridal boutiques or cosmetics shops. If you have an outgoing personality and some marketing capabilities you might elect to be a freelance artist. For example, you could establish a working relationship with a wedding/special event planner. The following list of annual salaries (highest to lowest) is based on an aggregate of job listings for makeup artists in various Washington cities.
- Tacoma – $45,000
- Seattle – $40,000
- Olympia – $40,000
- Pullman – $37,000
- Spokane – $31,000
- Yakima – $30,000
You will have to spend 1,000 hours of training and 1,200 apprenticeship hours in order to qualify to take the barber licensing exam. Washington is known for its numerous barbering schools at which you will learn how to use different tools to cut/style hair and to give straight-razor shaves as well as how to maintain safety and sanitation.
According to the BLS (2013) there are 670 practicing barbers in Washington who are earning the following salaries statewide and in the Seattle Metropolitan Area.