Hairdressers and Cosmetologists provide a wide variety of beauty services to customers, much of which is focused on hair care. Among the services they offer are hair cutting, trimming, styling, shampooing, and advising customers how to care for their hair at home. In addition, cosmetologists are often trained in giving manicures and pedicures; providing skin and facial treatments; and applying makeup.

Some cosmetologists and hairdressers are specialists who focus on one primary aspect of personal care and grooming. 

  • Barbers are individuals who primarily cater to male clients and who focus on cutting hair, giving shaves, and trimming beards. 
  • Shampooers who work mostly in large salons, specialize in shampooing and conditioning hair. 
  • Manicurists and Pedicurists (also referred to as Nail Technicians) work exclusively on nails and provide their customers with manicures, pedicures, nail polishing, and nail extensions. 
  • Estheticians (also known as Skin Care Specialists) concentrate on skin care and facial treatment.

Hairdressers And Cosmetologists picture    Hairdressers And Cosmetologists image

Hairdresser and Cosmetology Schools

A high school diploma or GED is the minimum educational requirement to work as a hairdresser. However, many salons hire only hairdressers who have completed a cosmetology school program. Many high schools and vocational schools offer hairdressing programs.

  • Full-time hairdressing programs can take anywhere from nine months to 24 months, and can often lead to an associate degree.
  • Full-time cosmetology programs can last anywhere from 9 to 24 months, while an apprenticeship program can last from one to three years.
  • Continuing education classes are recommended for hairdressers to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and styling techniques.

Those who choose to become hairdressers should have a firm grasp of fashion, technical design and various forms of art. Good communication skills and the ability to sell and market yourself are also qualities that can contribute to the success of a hairdresser.

Hairdresser and Cosmetology Training and Courses

Formal training programs typically include a mix of classroom study, demonstrations, and practical work. Students typically undertake supervised practice on customers in school-sponsored clinics, studying basic techniques such as:

  • Hair cutting
  • Shaving
  • Facial massaging
  • Hair and scalp treatments

In addition to hands-on learning, most schools also include coursework covering:

  • Unisex hairstyling
  • Chemical styling
  • Use and care of instruments
  • Sanitation and hygiene
  • Chemistry
  • Physiology
  • Anatomy
  • How to recognize simple skin ailments

Additional instruction in communication, sales, and general business practices is usually provided as well. Those who choose to run their own salons should consider taking their education further and earn a business degree. Courses in finance, business, sales, marketing and promotion are all good options for those who are pursuing a business degree with an eye toward running their own hairdressing salon.

Hairdresser and Cosmetology Licensing

Every state requires hairdressers, cosmetologists, and most other personal appearance workers to be licensed. Qualifications for a license vary by state, but here are some of the common licensing requirements:

  • Graduate from a state-licensed cosmetology school
  • Have a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Pass a written test
  • Demonstrate an ability to perform basic cosmetology services

Some states allow hairdressers and cosmetologists who are already licensed in one state to apply for and obtain a license in a different state without additional formal training. It is important for anyone wishing to work in a particular state to carefully review the laws of that state before entering a training program.

Graduates of a training program are usually eligible to take the state licensing examination. This exam consists of a written test and in many states also includes a practical test of styling skills. A few states include an oral component to the exam, where the applicant is asked to explain the procedures he or she is following during the practical test. Many states require separate licensing examinations for those who intend to qualify as manicurists, pedicurists, and skin care specialists.

Resources for Cosmetologists and Hairdressers

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for
Hairdressers and Cosmetologists

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Hairdressers and Cosmetologists jobs , as of 2016

Metro Area Total Employment Annual Mean Salary
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim 10,320 $31,040
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach 7,010 $31,860
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington 6,780 $25,770
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land 6,340 $28,660
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue 6,270 $41,090
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell 5,850 $28,170
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn 5,690 $29,910
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale 5,680 $27,310
Pittsburgh 5,660 $27,130
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward 4,550 $35,240

Compare Total Employment & Salaries for Hairdressers And Cosmetologists

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Total employment and salary for professions similar to hairdressers and cosmetologists

Source : 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, BLS.gov

Most Popular Industries for
Hairdressers and Cosmetologists

These industries represent at least 1% of the total number of people employed in this occupation.

Industry Total Employment Percent Annual Median Salary
Personal Services 323,400 91% $23,440
Department And General Stores 17,410 4% $16,110
Drug Stores 4,600 1% $24,590
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  • Offers career programs in accounting, cosmetology, massage therapy, physical fitness training, and more.
  • Provides hands-on training led by instructors who have relevant, on-the-job experience.
  • Each campus features a public salon and spa for student practice.
  • Campuses are accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET) and Council on Occupational Education (COE).
  • 11 campuses across California, Texas, Nevada and Idaho, as well as 8 additional Milan Institute of Cosmetology campuses.
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  • Students can obtain experience and expertise in the latest cosmetology procedures and techniques, plus the salon business skills needed to put their talents to use.  
  • Offers cosmetology training to prepare students for a career as a professional stylist, skin care specialist, image consultant, make up technician, and more.
  • Each campus features a public salon and spa for student practice.
  • The Milan Institute has successfully graduated over 25,000 students since 1985.
  • Part of the family-owned Milan Institute school group.
  • 8 campuses across California, Texas, Nevada, and Idaho, in addition to 11 Milan Institute campuses.
Start your career with training from Blake Austin College - Beauty Academy. We offer programs in cosmetology, massage therapy, and holistic health, plus a combination esthetics/massage program.
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  • Provides complete training and licensure preparation for aspiring cosmetologists.
  • Allows students to customize their schedule with day and night classes.
  • Offers advanced training classes in beauty and wellness.
  • Has top instructors with vast, real-world experience in the industry.
  • Teaches students important, innovative business and financial training.
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We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Hairdressers and Cosmetologists.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.

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