What Skills Do I Need to Become a Hairdresser?

You can gain the cutting and styling skills you need to become a hairdresser by enrolling in a hairstyling or cosmetology training program. Find out what you'd learn as a hairdressing student, and check the requirements for working in this field. Schools offering Nail Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Required Skills and Attributes

Hairdressers and hair stylists must possess technical, creative, and interpersonal skills. While mastering the latest haircutting and styling techniques is crucial, it's equally important to have a creative personality, so you can remain open to different haircutting trends and unique styles. Hairdressers commonly have a strong sense of fashion, which boosts their ability to enhance a person's appearance. Above all, hairdressing is a customer service industry, and you must be able to communicate effectively with your salon clients.

Important Facts About Hairdressers

On-the-Job Training No specific on-the-job training required
Key Skills Active listening, manual dexterity, customer service driven, critical thinking, good judgment, clear decision making, time management, coordination
Work Environment Barbershops, salons, hotels, spas, resorts
Similar Occupations Manicurists, pedicurists, skincare specialists

Training Information

Training to become a hairdresser typically takes less than one year to complete and leads to a certificate in hairdressing or hairstyling. You might want to enroll in a program that is accredited by the National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences (www.naccas.org). During a hairdresser program, you'll be introduced to cutting and styling techniques, coloring, shampooing, conditioning, rinsing, disinfectant procedures, and sanitation. Additionally, most programs cover management and business topics, as well as state laws related to the licensing board exam.

Licensure Requirements

Hairdresser licensure requirements vary by state. To become a licensed hairdresser, you are required to complete a minimum number of training hours, which can typically range from about 1,250-1,500 hours. Most states require that you hold a high school diploma or GED and that you are at least 16 years old. As part of the licensure process, you usually must pass a written and practical state board examination.

Skills Advancement

Hairdressers wanting to advance or expand on their skills can enroll in a cosmetology training program. In addition to hairstyling and cutting courses, cosmetology programs introduce you to other esthetic techniques, including facials, skin care, hair removal, and makeup application. As with hairdressers, cosmetologists must receive licensure, which includes completing a minimum number of training hours and passing a written exam and an in-person demonstration.

Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) projected a 13% increase in jobs for barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists from 2012-2022. According to the BLS, part of this growth was due to an increasing demand for hair treatments, such as coloring. Additionally, the rise of specialty spas and salons might also contribute to this employment growth. The BLS reported that hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists earned a median annual salary of $23,120 as of May 2014.

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  • Penn Foster High School

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  • Waukesha County Technical College

    Campus Locations:

    • Wisconsin: Pewaukee
  • United Beauty College

    Campus Locations:

    • Colorado: Denver
  • South Texas Barber College Inc

    Campus Locations:

    • Texas: Corpus Christi
  • Seymour Beauty Academy

    Campus Locations:

    • Missouri: Seymour
  • Red Rocks Community College

    Campus Locations:

    • Colorado: Lakewood
  • Pueblo Community College

    Campus Locations:

    • Colorado: Pueblo
  • Milwaukee Area Technical College

    Campus Locations:

    • Wisconsin: Milwaukee
  • Pickens Technical College

    Campus Locations:

    • Colorado: Aurora