Education and Training: Vocational/technical school
Salary: Varies—see profile
Employment Outlook: Good
Definition and Nature of the Work
Electrologists permanently remove unwanted hair from the face and body by a process called electrolysis. This process uses an electric current to destroy the tissue called the papilla that produces each hair. Electrologists work in private offices or salons. Many have their own businesses.
Most patrons of electrologists are women with excess facial hair. Male patrons often ask to have eyebrows and beards thinned or to have unwanted hair removed from their bodies. Electrologists also shape eyebrows and change hair-lines permanently. In addition, they may remove hairs from moles, but only with the written permission of a physician.
Patrons usually come to electrologists by appointment. Electrologists first make their patrons comfortable and sterilize their skin with an antiseptic solution. Then they slide a small, fine needle down the opening through which the hair grows to reach the papilla below the hair root. It is important that electrologists adjust the timing and flow of electricity before pressing the foot switch that sends the electric current into the papilla. They remove the needle and then lift the hair out with tweezers. Some hairs may require several treatments if earlier attempts have been made to remove them by temporary methods. Removing hair from large areas of the body may require several visits to an electrologist. Despite the use of electricity, electrolysis is a painless process. Patrons usually feel only a slight tingling sensation.
Education and Training Requirements
High school courses in chemistry, biology, psychology, business, and speech can help prepare candidates for training as an electrologist. There are special schools where interested individuals can study electrolysis. Full-time courses generally last about four weeks. Individuals can also study part time at these schools. Manufacturers of electrolysis machines and large electrolysis firms also offer training programs. In some cases trainees can earn a salary as they learn.
About one-third of the states require electrologists to be licensed. Requirements for licensing vary widely. Some states have minimum age, education, and training requirements. Prospective electrologists may also be required to pass a test before they can be a licensed electrologist.
Getting the Job
If attending a trade or professional school, interested individuals can get a job through the school placement service. They can also answer newspaper classifieds or apply to employment agencies or try searching job banks on the Internet. If candidates have not attended electrolysis school, they can apply directly to firms that have their own training programs.
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
Electrologists who work for large electrolysis firms or salons can become supervisors or managers. They can also become teachers of electrolysis. Many electrologists open their own salons after getting some job experience. This requires a large sum of money, but loans are available to qualified electrologists. It usually takes self-employed electrologists two to five years to build up a steady practice.
The employment outlook for electrologists is good. Many people are increasingly concerned about their personal appearance and have the money for electrolysis treatments. Therefore, the demand for electrologists' services should continue through the year 2014.
Where to Go for More Information
American Association of Cosmetology Schools
15825 N. 71st St., Ste. 100
Scottsdale, AZ 85254
American Electrology Association
PO Box 687
Bodega Bay, CA 94923
International Guild of Hair Removal Specialists, Inc.
1918 Bethel Rd.
Columbus, OH 43220
Society of Clinical and Medical Electrologists
389 Main St., Ste. 202
Malden, MA 02148
Electrolysis salons are clean and attractive. Electrologists usually wear white uniforms that they buy themselves. They work regularly scheduled hours, including some evenings and Saturdays. There may be some slow periods. Electrologists are seated when they treat patrons. Removing unwanted hair is a slow and precise process, so electrologists should be patient and have steady hands. They are expected to respect the privacy of their patrons and should be able to make them feel at ease.
Earnings and Benefits
Employed electrologists often receive a salary plus a commission, which is a percentage of the fee charged. Others receive only a commission. The median salary for an electrologist is $18,942, according to salary.com. Electrologists also accept tips from their patrons. Self-employed electrologists charge their patrons by the hour; the average hourly rate can range from $35 to $75. Earnings vary greatly depending on the geographic location, the number of patrons, and the salon's business expenses. Self-employed electrologists must provide their own benefits. Benefits for salaried electrologists may include paid vacations and health insurance.