Licensed Hair Cutter: Job Description & Requirements

Licensed hair cutters are licensed cosmetologists who cut hair in a style that flatters their clients, fits their lifestyle and works with their hair texture and type. Read on to learn about the training, licensing requirements, skills, salary and employment outlook for this occupation.

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Career Definition for a Licensed Hair Cutter

A licensed hair cutter has been professionally trained in the art and science of hair aesthetics and specializes in hair cuts. A licensed hair cutter may suggest cuts or tailor a celebrity style to suit a client's individual features. Licensed hair cutters may work exclusively with men, exclusively with women or with both genders. They may be called hairdressers, hairstylists, beauticians or barbers. They can also provide guidance for those undergoing chemotherapy and losing their hair, and they can cut and style wigs or hairpieces to achieve a more natural look.

Required Education Graduation from state-licensed cosmetology or barber school; state licensure
Necessary Skills Sense of style, interpersonal skills, flexibility, passion for the job
Median Salary (2015)* $23,660 (for all hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists)
Job Outlook (2014-2024)* 10% growth (for all hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

All hair cutters must be licensed by the state in which they plan to work. Licensure requirements vary. However, these workers must have graduated from a state-licensed cosmetology or barber school, which usually lasts nine months and may lead to an associate degree, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Cosmetology programs mandate that students learn all aspects of hair aesthetics in order to graduate. Students first learn the basic science of hair, which is followed by courses in hair-cutting, chemical procedures such as coloring, styling techniques and salon management. Students begin work on mannequins and progress to actual clients. Upon graduation, aspiring licensed hair cutters typically intern at an established salon to gain professional experience.

Required Skills

Aspiring licensed hair cutters must have a strong sense of style and superb interpersonal skills. A licensed hair cutter must be able to interpret a client's desires, be able to tactfully dissuade them from hairstyles that don't suit them and understand the significance that hair has on self-image. Hair cutters must love their profession and be willing to work weekends and nights.

Career and Economic Outlook

According to the BLS, demand for hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists, including licensed hair cutters, is expected to grow by 10% from 2014-2024. Personal appearance is now seen as a necessity that must be maintained despite the economy. However, competition will be strong, particularly at well-known salons. According to the BLS, hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists earned a median hourly wage of $11.38 in 2015, while the median annual salary was $23,660.

Alternate Career Options

Some skills necessary to become a hair cutter also apply to jobs in other areas, such as the following:

Manicurist or Pedicurist

Completing a cosmetology program and passing the licensing exam will qualify individuals for a job as a manicurist or pedicurist, in which they cleanse and shape clients' toenails and fingernails. Average employment growth of 10% was expected for these professionals from 2014-2024, and the BLS reported a median hourly salary of $10.01 in 2015 and a median annual salary of $20,820.

Skincare Specialist

Skincare specialists, also known as estheticians or aestheticians, cleanse skin, recommend skincare products and remove unwanted hair with wax or laser treatments. In 2015, the BLS reported a median hourly wage of $14.47 for this profession and a median annual wage of $30,090. Aspiring skin care specialists must complete a cosmetology program approved by the state; most states also require a licensing exam. A faster-than-average job increase of 12% was predicted by the BLS for this occupation during the 2014-2024 decade.

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