What Is the Average Yearly Income of a Hair Stylist?

Explore the career requirements for hair stylists. Get the facts about salary ranges, job duties and employment growth to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Culinary Arts degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information at a Glance

Although the monetary compensation can be modest, a job as a hair stylist may be a good choice for those who enjoy working with their hands, conversing with clients and following fashion. The following chart gives more information about hair styling as a career.

Training Required Licensed cosmetology program
Key Responsibilities Cutting, styling and coloring hair; sanitizing tools; consulting with clients on beauty services
Licensure Licensure is required by all states
Job Growth (2012-2022) 13% (for all hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists)*
Average Salary (May 2014) $27,940 (for all hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists)*

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

What Salary Can Hair Stylists Earn?

According to May 2014 figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary in the category of hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists was $27,940 (www.bls.gov). The median salary was $23,120 and the middle range was $18,680 to $32,170. The bottom 10% earned $17,160 or less and the top 90% earned $45,840 or more. May 2015 figures from Salary.com showed similar compensation levels in the following year. The median was $24,678, the middle range was $20,491 to $30,303, the bottom 10% earned $16,678 or less and the top 90% earned $35,423 or more.

The very highest average salary at $64,580 was paid to hair stylists in the performing arts industry, according to the BLS. However, this industry accounted for only about 110 workers. More typical was the average of $27,860 paid to the approximately 313,780 workers in personal care services. Health and personal care store stylists, comprising about 6,380 workers, and technical and trade school stylists (450 workers), were below the national average at $26,510 and $25,820 respectively.

Salaries varied somewhat by geography. In the top five states, hair stylists in Hawaii earned an average salary of $39,130 in 2014 and those in the District of Columbia earned $37,130 on average. In comparison, those in Delaware earned $35,810, while those in Virginia earned $34,770 in 2014. Finally, hair stylists in Washington earned $34,720. The bottom five states for income in 2014, per the BLS were West Virginia at $23,450, Nevada at $23,350, Oklahoma at $22,770, Louisiana at $24,290 and Idaho at $23,890.

Where Do Professionals Work?

Hair salons, spas, department stores, employment services and nursing homes are some of the businesses where you are most likely to find a job. You could also lease chair space at a salon or open your own business. The BLS reported the number of people employed as hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists was projected to increase 13%, from around 611,000 in 2012 to about 689,000 by 2022.

What Will My Job Duties Be?

Cutting, styling, bleaching, dyeing and tinting the hair of your clients will be your main duties. You might also shampoo their hair if shampooers are not employed on the premises. The client may give you styling directions or leave them to your discretion, in which case you will analyze the shape and proportion of their face, head and neck to choose or invent something compatible. During or after styling sessions you might recommend hair care products.

Other duties are clerical or not directly related to styling. For example, you might have to set appointments and work a cash register to accept payments. You will always be responsible for keeping your work area and equipment clean and sanitary. Ordering supplies, keeping tax records and promoting your services will be among your duties if you're self-employed.

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