Hair Dresser: Job Duties, Employment Outlook, and Educational Requirements

Learn about the job duties, employment outlook and necessary training for hair dressers. Read about the eligibility requirements and examination process for earning a hair dresser's license. Schools offering Nail Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Job Duties Does a Hair Dresser Perform?

Hair dressers provide hair care services that aim to enhance the physical appearance of their customers. As a hair dresser, you'll be responsible for trimming, highlighting, styling and shampooing your clients' hair to help them look and feel their best. You'll advise your customers on how to care for their hair themselves, demonstrate hair care products and ensure that your instruments are sanitized before use with each customer. If you become self-employed, you'll also take on managerial tasks, such as advertising for new businesses, hiring stylists and ordering hair care products.

See the table below for info about this career, along with education requirements, job outlook, and expected income.

Education Required State-approved cosmetology program
Education Field of Study Hairdressing, barbering, cosmetology
Licensure License required; requirements vary by state
Job Growth (2014-2024) 10%* (All hairdressers, hair stylists and cosmetologists)
Median Salary (2015) $23,660* ('All hairdressers, hair stylists and cosmetologists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is the Projected Employment Outlook?

Job opportunities for hair dressers, hair stylists and cosmetologists were projected to grow 10% between 2014 and 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( This growth was faster than the national average and was attributed to advances in hair technology and a growing population that required the services of hair care professionals. The BLS predicted that opportunities for entry-level workers would be less competitive than positions at high-end establishments. Projections indicated that employment opportunities would be best for experienced cosmetologists who were licensed to provide multiple personal care services. The BLS estimated that as of 2015, the average annual salary for hair dressers who worked in personal care services was $28,770.

What Educational Requirements Should I Complete?

As reported by the BLS, all hair dressers must be officially licensed by the states in which they live and work in. To acquire a license, you'll first need to complete a state-approved and licensed cosmetology or barber school program. Admission to these programs usually require a GED or high school diploma. You can enroll in a professional barber or cosmetology school and acquire a diploma or certificate. Such programs could last about nine months, and in some cases, might be applied towards an associate's degree.

Alternatively, you can choose to complete a 2-year associate's degree cosmetology or barbering program at a community college and study cosmetology concepts and cosmetology laboratory, along with such subjects as behavioral science, computer literacy and management principles. Your educational program should prepare you for the next step, which is licensing.

Each state may have variable licensing requirements, but in general, you'll need to be at least 16 years of age and a graduate of a barber or cosmetology program. You'll be required to successfully pass a state-administered examination consisting of written and practical sections. The examination might cover such areas as state regulations, shampooing, wig styling, hair weaving, hair and scalp disorders, chemical waving and infection control.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Similar careers that also require a license and training program include those of cosmetologists, barbers and skincare specialists. Cosmetologists analyze client's hair and makeup and perform scalp and facial treatments. Barbers perform hair cutting and shaving services, typically for men. Skincare specialists provide skincare treatments that may include hair removal and facials.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
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  • Cortiva Institute

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    • Certificates

    Campus Locations:

    • Florida: Maitland, Pinellas Park
  • Fortis College

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    Campus Locations:

    • Florida: Pensacola
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  • World A Cuts Barber Institute

    Campus Locations:

    • Pennsylvania: York
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    Campus Locations:

    • North Carolina: Winston Salem
  • Westside Tech

    Campus Locations:

    • Florida: Winter Garden
  • West Michigan College of Barbering and Beauty

    Campus Locations:

    • Michigan: Kalamazoo
  • West Georgia Technical College

    Campus Locations:

    • Georgia: Waco
  • Pearl River Community College

    Campus Locations:

    • Mississippi: Poplarville
  • Washington Barber College Inc

    Campus Locations:

    • Arkansas: Little Rock