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Beauty Industry

It's time to get pretty: barbers, cosmetology schools, and even nail salons are unmistakably hot businesses.


A shave and a haircut is worth a lot more than two bits these days.

The folliclely focused fields are experiencing a renaissance, not just in the rise of boutique salons and barber shops that double as bars but also in the number of people learning the profession. Cosmetology and barber schools is the No. 1 fastest growing industry for 2011, according to The schools train both stylists and potential entrepreneurs who may someday open their own salons.

Most states require licensing for stylists, so the schools indicate a required step before entering the field. Trade schools thrived during the economic slump, and according to IBISWorld, professional skills and performance training has potential to grow 5.3 percent every year until 2016. Educating future coiffeurs is a trade itself, with an exceptional year-over-year growth rate of 29 percent, according to data from

Charles Kirkpatrick, the executive officer of the National Association of Barber Boards of America, recently told the New York Times the number of licensed barbers had grown roughly 10 percent in the last two years, to 245,000 from 225,000.

It's not just a barbershop boomlet, though: Nail salons are part of this fast-growing industry, with a 9 percent year-over-year growth rate, as estimated by With an average company size of $168,703, the barrier to entry is extremely low.

By the Numbers:

29 Year-over-year percentage growth rate for cosmetology and barber schools industry, according to
$1,324,420 Average company size for a cosmetology or barber school, according to
20,000 Number of new licensed barbers between 2008 and 2010, according to the National Association of Barber Boards of America
9% Year-over-year growth rate for nail salons, according to
$168,703 Average company size for a nail salon, according to
Last updated: Apr 11, 2011

TIM DONNELLY | Columnist | Contributor

Tim Donnelly is a freelance writer and managing editor of His work has appeared in Billboard, The Atlantic, Thought Catalog, and The New York Post.

The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of

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