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Hair Technician: Career and Salary Facts

Learn what training you'd need to become a hair technician. Explore where you could work, what kind of hair styling and cutting you could do, and how much you could earn as a hair technician.

What Is a Hair Technician?

A hair technician provides a variety of hair-related services that may include shampooing, cutting, coloring and styling. They also offer advice on hair treatment and care. Hair technicians typically work in salons, spas, hotels or other personal service locations. They usually work full time and often acquire a specialized set of clients. You can learn some additional details about this career below:

Degree Required Certificate or Associate's degree
Education Field of Study Cosmetology
Key Responsibilities Consult with client's to understand their vision, cut and style a client's hair
Licensure Requirements State licensure required
Job Growth (2018-2028)* 8% (for barbers, hairdressers and cosmetologists)
Median Salary (2019)** $26,659

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Salary.com

What Training Will I Need To Be a Hair Technician?

You can find programs that teach you to cut and style hair at beauty schools and community colleges. Hair technician or hair styling training may be available through certificate programs, while more comprehensive cosmetology programs are offered as both certificate and associate's degrees. Through a combination of classroom study and hands-on practice, courses teach the physical properties of hair, fundamentals of using scissors and combs, techniques for shaping and coloring hair and styles for both men and women. Cosmetology courses also cover skin care, nail care and makeup.

Your state will require you to be licensed as a barber or cosmetologist before you can work as a hair technician. Generally, licensing entails graduating from an accredited program and passing a series of exams. Licensing exams typically consist of a written portion, and either a demonstration of practical skill, or an oral exam.

Where Could I Work?

The majority of the positions available to you will be at hair salons, where you may be an independent contractor or work for commissions. Hotels, resorts, spas and nursing homes provide further opportunities.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), approximately 766,100 people were employed as barbers, hairdressers and cosmetologists as of 2018 (www.bls.gov). This number was projected to rise 8% over the years from 2018 to 2028, per the BLS. Increased demand for hair care services from a growing population was expected to account for the change.

What Will My Duties Be?

You'll either cut and style a client's hair according to their stated preference, or advise them of styling options first if they have no preference. You may then wash the client's hair to prepare it for styling, or wait for a shampooer to do so. If the client has left styling at your discretion you might examine their facial features and head and neck proportions, and then choose a style that accentuates favorable features and minimizes unfavorable ones.

Styling involves using your fingers, scissors, electric clippers, combs, brushes, dryers and curlers to shape hair. You might also apply styling gels, bleaches, tints or dyes. If you're self-employed you'll also have to market yourself, order supplies and keep records for accounting and tax purposes.

What Salary Could I Earn?

According to 2019 figures from Salary.com, the median salary for hair stylists was $26,659. Hair stylists earned a total pay of between $16,000 and $59,000, which includes bonuses, tips, commission and overtime pay, according to 2019 data from PayScale.com.

What are some Related Alternative Careers?

Those looking into the field of hair technicians may also wish to look at manicurists and pedicurists as well as skincare specialist professions. The salary for these professions is comparable to hair technicians as well as educational requirements. Manicurists and pedicurists work to cleanse, shape and beatify a person's nails on their feet and hands. They may work in salons, spas or in hair stations. A skincare specialist works to enhance a person's facial beauty by cleansing and beautify their facial features using current methods and techniques. They, too, often work in salons and beauty spas. Manicurists, pedicurists and skincare specialists offer alternative professions for those interested in being a hair care technician.