Beauty careers are on the rise and are expected to increase by 19 percent from 2020 to 2030, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Today, the beauty industry is full of innovative and creative professionals that are constantly introducing new and exciting trends and techniques. However, not all beauty professionals possess the same skill levels and knowledge base.

Beauty professionals can be separated into two main categories: generalists and specialists. When entering the beauty industry, it is important to understand the differences between these career areas and how to procure a job in your chosen field.

What Is a Generalist?

A generalist in the beauty field is someone who is knowledgeable in many areas and has a broad range of skills. Generalists often have experience in hair, nail, skincare and makeup and may provide one or more of these services to clients in a salon or spa environment.

The pros and cons of being a generalist in the beauty industry include:


  • Career Flexibility – You can choose which types of services you want to perform.
  • Broad Knowledge Base – Generalists have a solid understanding of a wider range of beauty topics.
  • Transferable Skills – Having transferable skills is essential in todays fast-changing workplace.


  • Surface Knowledge – As generalists must keep up with a wide range of beauty topics, it is more difficult to achieve an in-depth understanding of each field.
  • Job Security – Generalists have loosely defined roles and can work in many different positions, meaning they are more easily replaceable than specialists.

What Is a Specialist?

A specialist is a beauty professional who is an expert in a certain field. These individuals focus on gaining an in-depth understanding of a specific niche. For example, a stylist that offers all types of hair services may be considered a generalist while a stylist that primarily deals with hair extensions may be considered a specialist.

The pros and cons of being a specialist in the beauty industry include:


  • Higher Pay – Specialists can often charge more for their services as it takes longer to study specific areas of beauty and these positions are often limited.
  • Greater Value – Beauty specialists are often considered more valuable for businesses as there are fewer specialists compared to generalists.
  • Recognition – Specialists are more likely to be recognized as leaders in their industry.


  • Career Inflexibility – Beauty specialists may suffer from career inflexibility due to their narrowed focus and skills in a particular niche.
  • Fewer Opportunities – The number of available jobs for specialists is often more limited compared to generalists.

Choosing a Career Path

The type of education you need to become a beauty professional is dependent on the field you want to pursue. With a cosmetology degree, licensed professionals can do hair, skin, makeup and nail care, which can be advantageous due to the ebbs and flows of the economy and service demands. Obtaining a cosmetology license, coupled with shorter specialty classes, is an excellent starting point for most beauty professionals entering the industry.

Interested in a career in the beauty industry? Begin your education at Long Island Beauty School. LIBS has been creating success stories since 1941! Whether you are looking to begin your career or looking to change careers, we offer full-time and part-time, day and evening schedules to fit your lifestyle. Contact us today to learn about the different programs and courses available.