Hair Dresser Education Requirements and Career Information
Hairdressers are responsible for styling and maintaining the appearance of a customer's hair following the customer's wishes. They may own a business or work as employees and independent contractors in beauty salons, spas and nursing homes.
Education Requirements for Hairdressers
Postsecondary public vocational schools and private beauty schools have certificate programs in hairstyling and other forms of personal appearance training, sometimes offered as cosmetology programs. High schools may also offer classes in styling. A hairstyling program is is typically completed in nine months. Introductory courses teach techniques for coloring, cutting, styling, as well as covering styling chemicals and sanitation. More advanced courses go into greater depth, and add courses in laws, regulations and salon management. However, relatively little class time is spent on desk work. Students spend much of the training time working with artificial hair.
Duties and Skills
Hairdressers cut, shape and style hair with tools, including scissors, combs, curling irons, curlers and hair driers. They also apply gel and coloring for additional effects. During or after a styling session, hairdressers may advise clients on caring for their hair at home. Hairdressers who run their own businesses also need to manage employees, order supplies and maintain billing and inventory records. A hairdresser needs an eye for personal aesthetics, manual dexterity to implement a hair design and good verbal communication skills both to discuss with customers what they want and establish a rapport that brings repeat business.
All states require hairdressers and most other personal appearance workers to be licensed. Licensees must have a high school diploma or GED, complete a state-approved educational program and pass a licensing exam. The licensing exam may include a written portion and either a practical skills test or oral exam.
Career Information for Hairdressers
According to Payscale.com, as of February 2010, the median salary of hairdressers with 1-4 years of experience was $24,248. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) foresaw highly favorable prospects for personal appearance workers as a category and hairdressers specifically, projecting employment growth of 20% over the years 2008-2018, driven by demand for basic and advanced hair care services from an expanding population. Job competition at high-end salons was expected to be more intense.
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