Hair Dressers: Job & Career Info

Hair dressers work in salons, at spas and as freelancers styling and cutting hair. They can enjoy careers as salon managers, salon owners, hair dressers for movies or television and personal stylists. Read on to learn more details about this profession.

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Career Definition of a Hair Dresser

Hair dressers cut, style and color hair for clients. They may have particular specialties like certain haircuts or coloring techniques. If working at a salon, hair dressers often need to sell products to clients by instructing them to care for their hair with the products the salon sells. Hair dressers may also perform eyebrow shaping, manicures and pedicures, depending on their skills or job duties.

Education Associate's degree in cosmetology, plus licensing and continuing education in some states
Job Skills People skills, listening skills, patience, physical stamina, sales skills, knowledge of current fashion trends
Median Salary (2015)* $23,660 for hair stylists, hair dressers and cosmetologists
Job Outlook (2014-2024)* 10% growth for barbers, hair dressers and cosmetologists

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements

Hair dressers usually earn a cosmetology associate's degree after they've graduated high school or earned a GED. Advanced training programs are usually available, but courses in a cosmetology degree program may include shampooing, hair design, hair care, styling and coloring. Cosmetology schools exist all over the nation. Most states require hair dressers to be licensed and may require continuing education requirements to maintain a license. Even if not required, hair dressers often take extra courses throughout their career to keep up with industry and fashion trends.

Skills Required

Hair dressers need good people skills and have to listen well in order to interact with clients and be able to satisfy them. It can be hard to translate clients' ideas of how they'd like to look into reality, so patience is important. Hair dressers need to be able to work with different hair types, perform scalp treatments, sell salon products effectively and understand the fashion industry's impact on the hair dressing profession. Hair dressers may work near potentially dangerous chemicals and are on their feet for long periods of time, so the job can be physically demanding.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated that hair dressers, barbers and cosmetologists would experience faster-than-average job growth of 10% from 2014-2024. The median annual salary for hair dressers, hair stylists and cosmetologists was $23,660 in 2015, according to the BLS, but it is common for hair dressers to be self-employed or to work part-time during their careers, which may alter their wage levels.

Alternate Career Options

Other career options in this field include:

Skincare Specialist

These specialists, also known as estheticians, evaluate and treat skin, remove unwanted facial hair, apply makeup, recommend products and may refer clients to dermatologists for additional care. Depending on their state of residence, a license is usually required after passing an esthetician or cosmetology program. A faster-than-average employment growth of 12% between 2014 and 2024 was predicted by the BLS for these jobs that paid an annual median wage of $30,090 in 2015.

Manicurist and Pedicurist

Expecting a faster-than-average job growth of 10% from 2014-2024, according to the BLS, manicurists and pedicurists earned a median wage of $20,820 per year in 2015. Learning their skills through a nail technician or cosmetology program and earning licensure where required, these professionals who deal with both fingernails and toenails trim, file and polish nails; moisturize and massage feet and hands; discuss treatments; and sell products.

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