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Hairdresser Career Guide

Employment of hairdressers is expected to grow faster than the average for all other occupations over the next years. It is a sociable and fast paced career that requires working with lots of clients and meeting all their hair needs. You can train to become a hairdresser at vocational college. You will need excellent communication, customer service and time management skills.

The greatest thing about working in the beauty industry is watching your client transform. At the end of some services, they are in awe of themselves and their self-confidence skyrockets. They grin ear to ear and exude happiness. We in the beauty industry live for these moments.

Serena Soutar

Hairdresser Career Ratings

Income

Career
Growth

Personal Growth

Contribution

Influence

Job Profiles

Real-Life Hairdresser Job Profiles

Below is a list of links to anonymous job profiles of REAL PEOPLE who have filled out our survey and offered to share their insights with our users about their job in the Hairdresser field.
ID Job Title Gender Age Earnings City & State Date
33897 Hairstylist's Assistant Female 24 $7,000 Jamaica, NY 01/01/2010
33404 Hairstylist Female 25 $25,000 Bloomington, IL 01/01/2010
33296 Hair Stylist Female 30 $30,000 Bensalem, PA 01/01/2010
33012 Cosmetologist Female 41 $25,000 balto, MD 01/01/2010

Overview

What a hairdresser actually does

Hairdressers are faced with the important task of making people feel good about themselves. On a regular basis, hairdressers will cut hair in various styles, color hair in many different shades, and style hair for a variety of occasions. Whether they work in an upscale salon and spa, a casual hair salon or from home, hairstylists demonstrate their creativity and expertise as they perform a wide range of hair services for their clients. Their typical duties and responsibilities include:

  • Keeping work stations clean and sanitizing tools such as scissors and combs
  • Using clippers, scissors, trimmers and razors to cut, trim and shape hair or hairpieces. Hairdressers do this based on clients instructions, the clients hair type and their facial features
  • Scheduling client appointments
  • Bleaching, dying or tinting hair, using an applicator or brush. This is also done according to the clients instructions and their hair type
  • Maintaining and updating client information records and documenting what treatment they had
  • Shampooing, rinsing, conditioning and drying hair or hairpieces
  • Demonstrating and selling hair care products
  • Styling hair (e.g., straightening or curling) using curlers, rollers, hot combs and curling irons to press and curl hair
  • Combing, brushing, and spraying hair or wigs to set a style
  • Training or supervising other hairstylists, hairdressers and assistants where necessary
  • Attach wigs or hairpieces to model heads and dress wigs and hairpieces according to instructions, samples, sketches or photographs

Why they are needed

All humans have hair, and most of us take great pride in looking after our appearance and caring for our hair. Therefore, hairdressers are needed as they have the unique skills to protect and style human hair.

Pros and cons of a career as a hairdresser:

Pros:

  • Hairdressers get to work with lots of different people, which keeps the job fresh, challenging and rewarding
  • Flexibility, as hairdressers can chose how they practice the profession (e.g., working for someone else, working for themselves, working evenings or weekends)
  • There is variety in each day, as every client will have different hair and will want something slightly different

Cons:

  • Hairdresser have a lot responsibility, as clients entrust in hairdressers and they must get things right
  • There will be tricky clients who are incredibly fussy and are hard to please
  • Although the hours are flexible, hairdressers will often have to work evenings and weekends to meet their clients needs
  • It is a physically taxing job as hairdressers will spend nearly all day standing up cutting hair
  • It is a very competitive industry. Some clients will be loyal, whereas others will move from hairdresser to hairdresser
  • Like all professions that work with many different clients, their can be the risk of an unstable income

Employability

Job market

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists, which includes hairdressers, is projected to grow 8 percent from 2018 to 2028, which is faster than the average for all occupations. This growing need is expected because as the population increases, there will be a greater demand for hair care services. In addition, the demand for hair coloring, hair straightening, and other advanced hair treatments has risen in recent years, a trend that is expected to continue over the coming years.

Career paths

To become a hairdresser, you will need a high school diploma or equivalent. In addition, every state requires that hairdressers complete a program in a state-licensed barber or cosmetology school, which are typically found in postsecondary vocational schools.

Once qualified, most of these hairdressers take advanced courses in hairstyling to keep up with the latest trends. Those who want to open their own business also may take courses in business, sales and marketing.

Hairdressers should be prepared for strong competition for jobs and clients, especially at higher paying/luxury salons, of which there are relatively few and for which applicants must compete with a large pool of experienced hairdressers.

Example Job Titles for Hairdresser

Below is a list of common job titles in the Hairdresser field. Click the links below for more information about these job titles, or view the next section for actual real-life job profiles.

Benefits & Conditions

Income and benefits

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly wage for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists was $12.54 in 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $8.86 per hour, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $24.94 per hour.

Autonomy and Flexibility

Hairdressers are often in control of their hours and when they book in clients, so there is a lot of flexibility. However, many hairdressers will work long hours, such as evenings and weekends, to meet their clients needs and schedule.

Locations and commute

According to Zippia, the best states to be a hair dresser, based on average annual salary and total number of jobs were:

  1. Florida, where the average annual salary was $43,291
  2. Idaho, where the average annual salary was $43,117
  3. Wisconsin, where the average annual salary was $40,962
  4. Indiana, where the average annual salary was $41,254
  5. Nevada, where the average annual salary was $41,146

The worst states were Colorado, Connecticut, Missouri, District of Columbia and Vermont.

Work environment

Hairdressers tend to work full time and in salons, although some work in spas, hotels or resorts. Some hairdressers lease booth space from salon owners, some manage salons and some even go onto to open their own salons.

47% of hairdressers in the United States were employed by personal care services. 7% were employed by retail trade and 44% of all hairdressers in the United States were self-employed.

Career Satisfaction

Common Matching Personality Types

Which personalities tend to succeed and thrive in Hairdresser careers? Based on our research, there is a relatively strong positive correlation between the following personality types and Hairdresser career satisfaction. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t many exceptions, of course, but if you fit into one of the following personality types then we suggest you give strong consideration to a career in Hairdresser.

16 Types (Myers-Briggs)

  • None

Big Five (OCEAN)

  • None

DiSC

  • None

Enneagram

  • None

Holland Codes (RIASEC)

  • None

Personality types

An ENFP Myers-Briggs personality type would suit being a hairdresser because they are naturally bubbly, fun-loving and love to connect with all sorts of people. They are often agile and engaging communicators with a strong artistic and creative side. ENFP’s also tend to have a positive attitude, the desire to understand people and are great at creating a welcoming social environment. All of these qualities will make a successful hairdresser because, as well as skill, hairdressers need to make their clients feel welcome and at ease.

Accomplishment and mastery

As hairdressers can become qualified in a relatively short space of time, and therefore quickly develop the skills they need, there is a high sense of accomplishment. This sense of accomplishment and mastery will continue to progress throughout a hairdressers career, as they will take courses to progress their skills and will cut and style hair in a way that many clients are pleased with.

Meaning and contribution

Hairdressers have the unique skills to really make a difference to the self-confidence of many women. Therefore, their work presents high levels of meaning and contribution to the lives of many.

Life fit

As nearly half of hair dressers are self-employed, there is the opportunity for a great life fit. However, hairdressers will have to work weekends and evenings to meet the needs of their clients, so it can sometimes be tricky to fit into everyday life.

Who will thrive in this career?

You will thrive as a hairdresser if you have a natural desire to please others and make them feel comfortable. Hairdressers must have exceptional attention to detail, as cutting hair to clients instructions must be precise. Physical stamina is also essential, as hairdressers can expect to be on their feet all day.

Who will struggle in this career?

Those who don’t like spending all day interacting with lots of different people will struggle, as hairdressers will have lots of different clients each day. On top of that, those who are not naturally warm and compassionate will struggle, as in order to have loyal clients, hairdressers need to create a relationship.

Requirements

Skills and talents

As well as needing to have physical stamina, hairdressers will also need to have skills such as:

  • Customer-service skills, as in order to retain clients, hair dressers must be pleasant, friendly and be able to provide excellent customer service
  • Time-management skills, as hairdressers need to manage their time efficiently when scheduling appointments and providing services
  • Creativity, as hairdressers need to keep up with the latest trends and be ready to try new hairstyles on their clients instruction
  • Communication skills, as hairdressers need to interact with plenty of clients and with other team members
  • Business management skills, as many hair dressers become self-employed, business skills will be beneficial to help them set up their own business

Education

Many people get attached to their hair and feel emotional when they don’t get the results they expected, so all aspiring hairdressers receive extensive training in this field. To become a hairdresser, you will need at least a high school diploma or equivalent. In addition, every state requires that hairdressers complete a program in a state-licensed barber or cosmetology school, which are typically found in postsecondary vocational schools.

Once qualified, most of these hairdressers take advanced courses in hairstyling to keep up with the latest trends. Those who want to open their own business also may take courses in sales and marketing.

Certifications

Hairdressers must obtain a license in order to work. Qualifications for a license vary by state, but generally, a person must fulfill the following criteria: be a minimum of age 16, have a high school diploma or equivalent and have graduated from a state-licensed barber or cosmetology school.

After graduating from a state-approved training program, students take a state licensing exam that includes a written test and, in some cases, a practical test of styling skills or an oral exam.

How to Become

Summary

Employment of hairdressers is expected to grow faster than the average for all other locations over the next years. It is a sociable and fast paced career that requires working with lots of clients and meeting all their hair needs.

Immediate action

If becoming a hairdresser sounds like something that you would like to do, then we recommend finding what colleges near you offer hairdresser training. We also recommend finding a salon that will let you do a Saturday job before you qualify, as this will let you be sure that you want to be a hairdresser.

Education and learning

To become a hairdresser, you will need at least a high school diploma or equivalent. In addition, every state requires that hairdressers complete a program in a state-licensed barber or cosmetology school, which are typically found in postsecondary vocational schools.

Skill development

Hairdressers learn all their technical skills through their college training. Other skills, such as communication and listening skills will develop during the job but successful hairdressers will naturally posses these skills too.

FAQs

Ask a Question

Have a question about Hairdresser careers? If so, our mentors would love to help! Just click on a mentor’s profile below and then fill out the “Ask a Question” form on that page. Your question will then be emailed to the mentor, who can then email you a reply.

ID Job Title Gender Age Earnings City & State Date
33897 Hairstylist's Assistant Female 24 $7,000 Jamaica, NY 01/01/2010
33404 Hairstylist Female 25 $25,000 Bloomington, IL 01/01/2010
33296 Hair Stylist Female 30 $30,000 Bensalem, PA 01/01/2010
33012 Cosmetologist Female 41 $25,000 balto, MD 01/01/2010

Resources