If you have a flair for creativity and enjoy making people look nice, hair design and styling could be a good fit for you. Continue reading to learn more about job duties and growth, earnings potential and training requirements for hair stylists and other related professionals.
Hair stylists provide a variety of related services, including shampooing, coloring, cutting and styling hair. They may also give clients advice on how to care for their hair at home. Barbers and hair stylists who work for themselves or others may be responsible for hiring, firing and supervising workers. Some hair professionals specialize in cosmetology, which can include caring for hairpieces and wigs or providing scalp massages and treatments.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many hair stylists are self-employed and work 40 hours per week or more, though working part time is also an option. In 2012, approximately 611,200 individuals held positions as cosmetologists, hairdressers and hairstylists, while 52,100 were employed as barbers. In addition to beauty and nail salons, hair professionals may work in resorts and spas.
Nationwide, the BLS has projected a 13% increase in employment for barbers, cosmetologists and hairdressers between 2012 and 2022, which is about average compared to other occupations. As of May 2013, cosmetologists and hair stylists earned a median annual salary of $23,140, while barbers made $25,010 (www.bls.gov).
While qualifications for hair stylists vary, you must have a high school diploma or a GED and be at least 16 years old to enroll in a cosmetology program. Many institutions in the U.S. offer state-approved cosmetology programs that include studies in hair care, as well as nail and skin care. Certificate and associate degree programs in cosmetology, including those offered partially online, can help you prepare for the oral, written and practical exams required for a state cosmetology license.
Certificate programs in cosmetology generally take about nine months, or one school year, to complete; associate's degree programs may require an additional fifth semester beyond the usual two years. In addition to studying cosmetology theories and personal care, you'll participate in clinical experiences and labs, cutting and styling hair on mannequins and real clients.
Good interpersonal and organizational skills are key to working as a hair dresser or stylist. As reported by the BLS, creativity and salesmanship are also important attributes for those working in the hair care industry.