The professional skill or practice of beautifying the face,hair, and skin

Work Setting~ Hairdressers and Cosmetologists work mostly in barbershops or salons, Although some do work in spas, hotels, and resorts. Some lease booth space in other peoples salons. A good number of people manage salons or open their own shop after several years of experience. Physical stamina is important because they are on their feet most of their shift.

Work Schedule~ Most Hairdressers or cosmetologists work part time. However some self employed workers may have long hours. Work schedules often include evenings and weekends. Those who are self employed usually make their own schedule.

Hazards~ Prolonged exposure to some chemicals may cause skin irritation. so they often wear protective clothing such as disposable gloves an aprons.

Education~ A high school diploma or equivalent for some positions. Every state requires that hairdressers and cosmetologists complete a program in a state licensed cosmetology school. Full-time programs in cosmetology usually last at least 9 months and may lead to an associate’s degree. Most of these workers take advanced courses in hairstyling or in other personal appearance services to keep up with the latest trends. Those who want to open their own business also may take courses in sales and marketing.

Training, license, work experience~ All states require hairdressers and cosmetologists to be licensed. Qualifications for a license vary by state, but generally, a person must fulfill the following:

  • Minimum age of 16
  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • 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.

Barbers, Hairdressers, and Cosmetologists

Median hourly wages, May 2012

Total, all occupations




Barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists


Hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists




Job Outlook~Overall employment of barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists is projected to grow 13 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Growth rates will vary by specialty.

Employment of barbers is projected to grow 11 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations. The need for barbers will stem primarily from an increasing population, which will lead to greater demand for basic hair-care services.

Employment of hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists is projected to grow 13 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations. 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 decade.

Overall job opportunities are expected to be good. A large number of job openings will stem from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations, retire, or leave the occupation for other reasons. However, workers should expect strong competition for jobs and clients at higher paying salons, of which there are relatively few and for which applicants must compete with a large pool of experienced hairdressers and cosmetologists.

Similar Occupations~

Manicurists and pedicurists clean, shape, and beautify fingernails and toenails.

Postsecondary non-degree award$19,220

Skincare specialists cleanse and beautify the face and body to enhance a person’s appearance.

Postsecondary non-degree award$28,640

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