Hair Stylist Job Duties and Employment Outlook

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

Are you an affable individual with good comprehension skills, and most of all, a love for styling hair? For someone who holds these qualities, a hair stylist may be a great career, where they perform numerous duties, such as coloring, straightening, and general styling. The job outlook is promising, yet competitive, as many switch jobs and leave a large amount of open positions.

Essential Information

Hair stylists cut, color and style hair. Some hair stylists offer additional services, such as manicures, waxing or facials. Aspiring hair stylists must graduate from a cosmetology program, which typically last about nine months, before taking state licensing exams.

Required Education Completion of cosmetology program; requirements vary by state
Other Requirements State licensure
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 10% for all barbers, hair dressers and cosmetologists (faster than average)
Median Salary (2015)* $23,660 per year for all hair stylists, hair dressers and cosmetologists

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics

Hair Stylist Training Requirements

Hair stylists must be licensed in order to practice. Before taking the licensing exam, they must graduate from an approved cosmetology program. Most full-time cosmetology programs last about nine months. To be accepted into a cosmetology program, applicants must have a high school diploma or GED. These programs teach the basics of cosmetology, such as cutting and coloring techniques, chemical processes, nail care, and skin care. Students interested in hair styling take specialized classes in cutting, coloring, up-dos and extensions.

Once a program is completed, students are eligible to take a state licensing exam. Licensing exams vary by state but usually include a combination of a written exam, oral exam and skills test. Professional hair stylists develop their skills throughout their careers and may begin work as an assistant.

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Job Duties

Hair stylists work in a beauty salon or spa and color, cut and style clients' hair. In addition to coloring and cutting hair, hair stylists give permanent waves and style hair for special occasions. Many hair stylists specialize in a particular area, such as cuts, highlights and color, permanent waves, and straightening or hair extensions. In addition to working on clients' hair, they may help clients' select hair-care products. They also teach clients how to style their hair at home.

Depending on the salon, hair stylists may be required to shampoo and blow dry clients. They also clean their stations, sterilize equipment and sweep up hair. In small salons, hair stylists help book appointments and greet customers.

Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 10% increase in jobs for barbers, hair dressers and cosmetologists from 2014-2024, which is considered faster than average.

Entry-level hair stylists are expected to experience good prospects because many hair stylists may leave the workforce through retirement or job changes. However, this field is a competitive one; the best opportunities will be for those who can provide a wide range of services and who possess previous work experience.

As a hairstylist, customer satisfaction all depends on you, thus listening to client's requests, being friendly, and doing the job right are essential. To ensure skill level, hairstylists must finish a cosmetology program and become licensed. Experience and great service are what will get you more job opportunities, though the field is very competitive.

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