Salary or Commission: Life and Income as a Beauty Pro

July 30, 2023
Salary or Commission: Life and Income as a Beauty Pro

In the beauty industry, salary and commission amounts can vary widely depending on where you work and the types of services you offer. Lots of beauty pros who rent a chair in someone else’s salon don’t have the luxury of choosing between salary or commission — because they’re so busy trying to scrape together enough jobs to cover their rental fees every month. Then they just have to live on whatever’s left over.

We do things differently at IMAGE Studios. Our mission is to help entrepreneurs like you realize your dream of being your own boss without all the stress and hassle that’s usually involved in finding, renovating and running a salon. And on your journey to becoming a business owner, income in all its forms is a major concern.

Many people ask us whether commission work is better than drawing a salary, but that is an intensely personal question that every professional must answer individually.

To help you decide what’s best for yourself, let’s take a look at straight salary vs straight commission models to see the pros and cons of each. Then we’ll dive into what you can expect from life as a business owner in an IMAGE Studios salon — in terms of income, creative freedom and everyday support.

How Do Salon Workers Get Paid?

It takes a lot of planning and prep to open a salon and become a business owner. Income that stays in your pocket, rather than going toward rental-chair fees, is the ultimate goal — but is it better to have income as a salary or commission? And what’s an average beauty industry salary anyway?

There are basically three ways beauty pros can receive pay: hourly wages, set salary and commission per service.

Some salon workers receive an hourly wage, just like employees in other industries. That means they get paid whether there are clients to service or not, and they’re eligible for extra pay if they work more than 40 hours in a week. But there may not always be enough hours available on the schedule to meet their income needs, and most employers won’t let them go into overtime. Plus, hourly positions are typically filled by novices to the industry with few high-level skills.

Now let’s look at the two big income choices for more skilled beauty pros: straight salary vs straight commission.

Salary or Commission: Which Is Best?

Before you can work on building your clientele and creating your brand identity with IMAGE Studios, you have to decide whether you want to work on commission or pay yourself a salary. It’s totally a personal choice, so there’s no absolutely right or wrong answer.

Here’s the breakdown:


A salary is a set amount of pay that you receive on a weekly, biweekly or monthly basis. Salaried beauty pros get the same amount of pay regardless of the number of hours they put in or services they deliver. That guaranteed income sounds great — until the busy holiday or wedding season rolls around and suddenly, you’re putting in 50- to 60-hour weeks with no pay bump.

Pros of Beauty Industry Salary Work

Cons of the Straight Salary Model


Working on commission means that you earn a percentage of every product or service you sell to a customer. Some salespeople receive a base salary plus a commission on their sales, but in the beauty industry, salary-plus-commission options are really limited.

Pros of Commission Work in the Beauty Industry

Cons of Commission Work

Benefits of Owning a Salon of Your Own

Life as a business owner has its ups and downs — but the benefits of being your own boss in your very own IMAGE Studios salon are undeniable! Let us take care of finding locations across the country that are bursting with potential, maintaining onsite restrooms and laundry facilities, and making sure the building is secure — while you put your energy into deciding between salary or commission and taking advantage of these other fabulous benefits:

Set Your Own Prices

Tired of limiting the services you offer or restricting your prices to someone else’s fee schedule on that rental-chair treadmill? One of the biggest benefits of renting a salon suite is the power to set your own prices. Because what you charge should be between you and your clients — not prescribed by some corporate committee or the owner of a chain of salons. IMAGE Studios wants you to control your own rates and service offerings.

Keep All of Your Income

As an IMAGE Studios business owner, income that you earn is your own. You can spend it however you like! You’ll have a lease payment, of course, but you’ll no longer have to fork over a portion of every nail, lash, brow or hair service to someone else. And if you’re wondering how much it costs to rent a salon suite, we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised — especially when you remember that each IMAGE Studios salon features gorgeously luxurious European design and comes equipped with:

If you tried to find, rent and renovate a salon to include all those amenities on your own, the salary or commission question wouldn’t even come up — because all your income would go to contractors!

Work When and as Much as You Want

Are you an early bird who likes scheduling all your clients before noon? Do you prefer to work only on weekdays, leaving your weekends free for socializing? Perhaps you’re a night owl with clients who prefer after-dark appointments. Your life as a business owner with IMAGE Studios can take whatever shape you like — whether that means nonstop work, a leisurely pace or something in between.

Unleash Your Creativity

Skip the corporate color schemes, unflattering uniforms and tired logos — your IMAGE Studios salon suite is the clean slate on which you can unleash your unique brand of creativity! Go crazy with vibrant colors, lush greenery or eye-catching artwork. We love seeing how our beauty pros express their individuality so much that we reward the most riveting artistry with our annual Studio Design Awards for the best national and regional decorative efforts.

Build Your Skill Set and Clientele

The best way to expand your clientele and grow your skill set is to be part of a beauty industry community. That’s what each of our IMAGE Studios salon locations has become — a community of professionals sharing inspiration, insight and resources for mutual benefit. And to foster your continued growth as an entrepreneur, our IMAGE Pro Business Program provides free access to educational programming that can take your boss skills to the next level.

Owning Your Own Salon With IMAGE Studios

Ready to reimagine your life as a business owner of an IMAGE Studios salon suite? Start by catching our vibe in a virtual tour — then dive into all the benefits of touring IMAGE Studios in person for an up-close look at what it’s like owning a salon in your ideal city. Your bright future as a beauty industry salary or commission professional is waiting for you!

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