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What Are the School Requirements to Become a Hair Stylist?

Hair stylists help others feel good about their appearance by giving them flattering haircuts, colors and styles. Because state licensure is necessary, certain school requirements must be met.

Training Overview

As a hair stylist, or cosmetologist, you will need to be trained in beauty areas such as coloring, cutting, and shampooing hair. You will also need to learn how to provide hair care advice to clients and to recommend specific products based on their unique hair type. Other training may include how to clean or style hairpieces and wigs.

Important Facts About This Field of Study

Key Skills Ambition to grow your business, hard work, dedication, friendly demeanor
Specializations Coloring, weaves, braiding, singeing, washing, bleaching, working with wigs
Online Availability Distance learning courses available
Possible Careers Beautician, wedding stylist, nail technician, salon assistant
Median Salary (2019)$26,090 (Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists)
Job Outlook (2019-2029)-2% (Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

School Entry Requirements

You usually must be a citizen or a legal alien to enter a cosmetology program. Many beauty schools require completion of high school or a GED program. There is often a minimum student age requirement that must be met to enroll into the school, although some schools may accept students who are under the age of 18.

Expect to have to pay a non-refundable application fee, some or all of your tuition costs, and to buy supplies or kits required for the program. Many schools will also require you to meet with an advisor, complete an entrance interview, and/or attend an orientation before formally enrolling in their program.


Beginning hair stylists can choose to complete a cosmetology certificate or associate's degree program. The average certificate course is 9-15 months in length, which equals about 1600 hours. You'll take specialty classes that include hair coloring, hair styling, chemical services, and hair cutting.

You may also have science courses that are related to anatomy so you understand the nature of human hair. Sanitation classes help ensure that you know the proper way to keep yourself and your clients safe. Business courses are normally included in a program to give you a good sense of how to own, operate, and work in a salon.


You'll need to be licensed in the state in which you work. The qualifications for this licensure vary in each state, but requirements generally include being at least 16 years old, completing a program from an approved cosmetology school, and possessing a GED or high school diploma.

With these requirements met, you can complete the necessary written and skills-evaluation tests. The written examination covers your knowledge of laws related to hair stylists, hair stylist techniques, and proper sanitation procedures. The skills test ensures that you're able to perform your job duties at a satisfactory level. An application fee is normally required for you to receive your license, and most states require license renewals.