Published: 10 November 2023

Ranking the Top 10 Hair & Beauty Career Paths by Earning Potential

We at Bella Bouji have analysed career data and employment trends to determine the top 10 highest-earning roles in the hair and beauty industry. Proper financial planning and choosing an in-demand career path are critical for long-term success. This definitive guide will empower you to make strategic decisions about your hair and beauty career based on realistic earning potential over time.

10. Salon Receptionist

The salon receptionist is the first point of contact for clients. Key responsibilities include booking appointments, processing payments, maintaining client records, merchandising retail products, and general administrative tasks. According to PayScale, the average salary for a salon receptionist in the UK is £17,000 per year. This entry-level role provides a good opportunity to gain experience in the salon environment. However, earning potential over time is relatively limited compared to more skilled positions.

9. Nail Technician

High turnover

Providing manicures, pedicures, acrylic nails, and other nail services is the central role of a nail technician. Attention to detail and creativity with nail art are essential skills. The average salary for a nail technician is £20,000 per year. With experience, talented nail technicians can increase their earnings by building a loyal client base and charging premium prices. However, income potential reaches a ceiling compared to other beauty careers.

8. Makeup Artist

Makeup artists help clients look their best by applying cosmetics and designing looks for different occasions. Runway shows, photo shoots, weddings, television, film, and more all utilise makeup artists. The average salary for a makeup artist in the UK is £25,000 per year. Celebrity makeup artists and those with in-demand specialised skills can earn significantly more. Building your portfolio and reputation is key for increasing earnings over your career.

7. Aesthetician

Brow lamination

Aestheticians, also known as skin care specialists, provide facials, waxing, eyelash treatments, microdermabrasion, and other skin treatments. Strong knowledge of skin types, conditions, and products is essential. According to PayScale, the average aesthetician salary is £26,000 per year. Those working in high-end spas and focusing on advanced treatments can potentially earn higher wages.

6. Barber

Salon dress codes 2023

Mastering precision cuts, shaves, and beard trims is central to success as a professional barber. Barbers require exceptional attention to detail and customer service skills. The average salary for a barber in the UK is £27,000 per year. Building a loyal client base and advancing to managerial roles at high-end barbershops can provide career earnings growth.

5. Hair Stylist

Pros and Cons of Jobs in Hair and Beauty in 2023

Hair stylists provide haircuts, colors, perms, blowouts, updos, and treatments tailored to each client. Creativity, manual dexterity, and keeping up with the latest trends are essential. According to PayScale data, the average salary for a hair stylist is £28,000 per year. With skill development and reputation, top hair stylists at exclusive salons can potentially earn £60,000-100,000 annually.

4. Salon Manager


Overseeing all salon operations including staffing, budgeting, marketing, and more are the key duties of a salon manager. Strong leadership and business acumen are necessities. The average salary for a salon manager in the UK is £30,000 per year, significantly higher than non-managerial roles. Larger salons and those in prime locations offer the highest earning potential for managers.

3. Spa Manager

Salon dress codes 2023

At high-end spas, spa managers coordinate staff schedules, maintain standards, purchase supplies, handle legal compliance, and ensure excellent service. This role requires substantial previous management experience. According to PayScale, the average salary for a spa manager is £40,000 per year. Those managing large resort/hotel spas or metropolitan day spas can earn significantly more.

2. Spa Director

For luxurious day spas and destination spas, the spa director is the top executive overseeing all business, marketing, and operational aspects. Extensive management expertise is required. On average, a spa director earns approximately £65,000 – £85,000 annually. Those managing large spas at 5-star hotels or resorts earn well into six figures.

1. Celebrity Makeup Artist

Building an A-list celebrity clientele elevates a makeup artist to the top earning potential in the beauty industry. In addition to impeccable skills, strong connections and reputation are crucial. Celebrity makeup artists can earn £100,000 – £300,000 per year or more. With brand sponsorships and product lines, earnings can reach millions annually.

In summary, the highest earning careers in the hair and beauty industry require exceptional skill combined with business, marketing and management expertise. While entry-level roles provide a good starting point, advancing into leadership, celebrity work or owning your own salon/spa provides the highest income ceilings. Choose your career path wisely and invest in continual skill development to maximise your earning power over your lifetime.

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