Hair Dresser Education Requirements and Career Information

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a hairdresser. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

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Essential Information

Hairdressers are responsible for styling and maintaining the appearance of a customer's hair. They may own a business or work as employees and independent contractors in beauty salons, spas and nursing homes. Every state requires that hairdressers be licensed, which usually calls for completing a training program at a vocational school or private cosmetology school and passing competency examinations.

Required Education Certificate in cosmetology
Licensing License required in all states
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022) *13% (hairdressers, hair stylists and cosmetologists)
Median Salary (2013)* $23,140 (hairdressers, hair stylists and cosmetologists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

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 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.

Licensing Requirements

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 September 2014, the median salary of hairdressers with 1-5 years of experience was $24,000. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the median salary for hairdressers, hair stylists and cosmetologists was $23,140 in May 2013. The BLS foresaw favorable prospects for personal appearance workers as a category and hairdressers specifically, projecting employment growth of 13% over the years 2012-2022, 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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    • Puerto Rico (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at D'Mart Institute include:
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
      • Cosmetology and Related Services
        • Aesthetician and Skin Care
        • Barber and Hair Cutting Services
        • Hair Design
        • Nail Technician - Manicurist
        • Permanent Cosmetics and Tattooing
  • School locations:
    • Mississippi (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Pearl River Community College include:
      • Non-Degree: Coursework, Diploma
      • Undergraduate: Associate
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
      • Cosmetology and Related Services
        • Barber and Hair Cutting Services
  • School locations:
    • California (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
      • Psychology and Human Behavior
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    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Harvard University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
      • Cultural Studies
      • Ethnic and Gender Studies
      • Liberal Arts, Humanities, and General Studies
      • Philosophy
      • Political Science
      • Public Administration
      • Religious Studies
      • Social Science and Studies
      • Social Studies and History
      • Theological, Religious, and Ministerial Studies
  • School locations:
    • Pennsylvania (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
      • Cultural Studies
      • Ethnic and Gender Studies
      • Geography and Cartography
      • Human and Social Services
      • Liberal Arts, Humanities, and General Studies
      • Philosophy
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      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
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    • North Carolina (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Duke University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
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  • School locations:
    • Indiana (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Notre Dame include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
      • Cultural Studies
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      • Liberal Arts, Humanities, and General Studies
      • Philosophy
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  • School locations:
    • Columbia (D.C.) (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Georgetown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
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    • Tennessee (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Vanderbilt University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics