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What Is the Average Yearly Income of a Hair Stylist?

Explore the career requirements for hair stylists. Get the facts about salary ranges, job duties and employment growth to determine if this is the right career for you.

What is a Hair Stylist?

Although the monetary compensation can be modest, a job as a hair stylist may be a good choice for those who enjoy working with their hands, conversing with clients and following fashion. As a hair stylist you will inspect, wash and dry clients' hair and scalp. Based on your inspection you will recommend different hair and scalp products. Hair services you may provide include coloring, cutting and texture changing. You may discuss any of these with clients to help them determine what services they'd like. The following chart gives more information about hair styling as a career.

Training Required Licensed cosmetology program
Key Responsibilities Cutting, styling and coloring hair; sanitizing tools; consulting with clients on beauty services
Licensure Licensure is required by all states
Job Growth (2018-2028)* 8% (for all hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists)
Median Salary (2018)* $24,730 (for all hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Salary Can Hair Stylists Earn?

According to May 2018 figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary in the category of hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists was $28,770 (www.bls.gov). The median salary was $24,730 and the middle range was $20,130 to $34,910. The bottom 10% earned $17,980 or less and the top 90% earned $50,110 or more.

The highest average salary at $66,830 was paid to hair stylists in performing arts companies, according to the BLS. However, this industry accounted for only about 60 workers. More typical was the average of $31,210 paid to the approximately 317,060 workers in personal care services. Health and personal care store stylists, comprising about 9,380 workers, and technical and trade school stylists (520 workers), were below the national average at $25,900 and $28,430 respectively.

Salaries varied somewhat by geography. In the top five states, hair stylists in District of Columbia earned an average salary of $45,680 in 2018 and those in the Massachusetts earned $42,260 on average. In comparison, those in Washington earned $40,910, while those in New Jersey earned $37,230 in 2015. Finally, hair stylists in Delaware earned $35,810.

Where Do Professionals Work?

Hair salons, spas, department stores, employment services and nursing homes are some of the businesses where you are most likely to find a job. You could also lease chair space at a salon or open your own business. The BLS reported the number of people employed as hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists was projected to increase 8%, from around 683,800 in 2018 to about 741,700 by 2028.

What Will My Job Duties Be?

Cutting, styling, bleaching, dyeing and tinting the hair of your clients will be your main duties. You might also shampoo their hair if shampooers are not employed on the premises. The client may give you styling directions or leave them to your discretion, in which case you will analyze the shape and proportion of their face, head and neck to choose or invent something compatible. During or after styling sessions you might recommend hair care products.

Other duties are clerical or not directly related to styling. For example, you might have to set appointments and work a cash register to accept payments. You will always be responsible for keeping your work area and equipment clean and sanitary. Ordering supplies, keeping tax records and promoting your services will be among your duties if you're self-employed.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Similar to hair stylist, manicurists and pedicurists help clients enhance their beauty. Although, instead of specializing in hair care, they clean and cut finger nails and toe nails. Skin care specialists take on a similar task, specializing in cleaning and beautifying skin on a client's face and body.