Hair Technician Educational Overview

Hair technicians require little formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and licensure requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

If you're a person who's simply fascinated with hair care, becoming a hair technician would be the quintessential career choice for you. You can specialize in various hair services, which demand different educational requirements, such as completing barbering or cosmetology programs. A high school diploma or equivalent is needed to acquire a license, which is mandatory for most hair care jobs.

Essential Information

Hair technicians specialize in performing hair care and are responsible for cutting, dying and styling hair. Hair technicians can include barbers, hair stylists, and cosmetologists, among others. States usually require these workers to hold a high school diploma, complete a state-approved community college or technical school program and earn state licensure.

Required Education High school diploma required in most states, plus completion of a formal training program in barbering or cosmetology
Licensure Required
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 10% (for barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists)* (faster than average)
Average Salary (2015) $23,710 per year (for barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Hair Technician Job Description

Professionals in the hair care industry are known by several different titles. Those specializing in hair services for men are known as barbers, while hairdressers, cosmetologists and hair stylists are hair care professionals who work with both men and women. Hair technicians provide various services such as shampooing, conditioning, cutting, styling, dying, treatments, facial hair removal, and wig management.

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Educational Overview

Hair technicians are required to have a state license unless they only perform shampoo services. Each state sets its own requirements for receiving a state license, but most require hair technicians to receive training from an appropriate state-licensed school. Obtaining a high school diploma or equivalent is a requirement for a state license in many states. Students can take elective courses while in high school to jump-start their training. Classes like cosmetology, first-aid and safety teach basic fundamentals to work in the field, and business-related classes are valuable since many hair technicians are self-employed or business owners.

Barbering Programs

One option for aspiring hair technicians is to complete a barbering program at a state-licensed vocational school. Admission requirements for these programs typically include being of minimum age and possessing a high school diploma or equivalent. Barbering curriculum teaches students sanitation, professional ethics, equipment usage and maintenance, state regulations, hair cutting and styling, skin and hair disorders, facial treatments, and business skills. Students usually participate in classroom instruction and hands-on experience while attending barbering school.

Cosmetology Programs

Many community colleges offer associate's degree programs in cosmetology that teach students hair care services in addition to other personal care services. Students learn to cut, color and style men's and women's hair, give manicures and pedicures, perform spa treatments and treat skin conditions. Students usually need a high school diploma or equivalent and may have to pass a college placement test.

Cosmetology curriculum includes classes like hair design and cutting, hair shampoos and rinses, hair coloring, esthetics, nail technology, bacteriology, sanitation, hair and skin treatments, and makeup application. Students also learn business skills and salon management to prepare individuals who aspire to own their own businesses. Many schools have student learning salons where they acquire practical experience.

Career and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that barbers earned $29,140 as an average annual wage in 2015. It also states that hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists made $28,770 on average in that year. In the years 2014-2024, the BLS estimates a 10% job growth for barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists.

A hair technician can be trained in a number of services: shampooing, styling, cutting, straightening, and dyeing, among others. Whichever one you may prefer, you will first need a high school diploma or equivalent, and then complete barbering or cosmetology programs to become licensed. Once you finish the proper schooling, a career as a hair technician firmly awaits you.

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