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Career Education Information for Barbers and Hair Stylists

Barbers and hair stylists require specialized formal education. Learn about the training programs, job duties and licensure requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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According to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report, both barbers and hairstylists should expect a 10% increase in job opportunities between 2014-2024. These professionals must first complete a barber or cosmetology program, which typically lasts about nine months. Barbers and hairstylists also need state licensure prior to seeking employment.

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Essential Information

Hair stylists, sometimes referred to as cosmetologists, and barbers are personal appearance professionals who style, cut and color hair. They can work in their own shops, at large salons or for modeling agencies. In addition to good styling and barbering techniques, these individuals need strong marketing and customer service skills to increase their earnings. Hair stylists and barbers generally complete training programs in their field, and in most states they must be licensed.

Career Barber Hair Stylist
Required Education Barber program Cosmetology program
Other Requirements State licensure State licensure
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 10%* 10%*
Median Salary (2015) $24,850* $23,660*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most states require hair stylists and barbers to graduate from a school that is licensed by the state. Most schools combine classroom time with practicing on mannequins and live models. Many programs accept financial aid and provide their graduates with job-placement assistance.

Hair stylist programs include coursework in coloring, shampooing, haircutting and styling. Barbering programs include courses on sterilization methods, hygiene and grooming techniques. In addition to techniques, many programs offer a marketing or sales course to teach students the skills needed to build and maintain a client base. The BLS states that most of these programs last nine months or longer.

Licensing Requirements

Most states have licensing requirements that include a minimum number of training hours and an age limit. Some states may have education or apprenticeship requirements. After completing a program, individuals must pass their state's licensing examination.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

The BLS estimated that employment for barbers is expected to increase 10% in the years 2014-2024. Hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists are grouped together, and the BLS predicts a 10% job growth for these workers in the same 2014-2024 decade.

According to the BLS, the median annual earnings of cosmetologists, hairstylists and hairdressers were $23,660 in 2015. The BLS also reported that barbers earned $24,850 as a median annual salary in May 2015.

The vocational training involved in becoming a hairstylist includes topics in hair coloring, styling, and shampooing. Barbers, on the other hand, study many of the same hair-styling topics, though they may focus more on clipper techniques and how to properly shave customers.

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