Career Choice: Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists

Career Choice: Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists
  • Type: Career Type
  • Opening Intro -

    Everyone likes to look his or her best, right?

    Thanks to the hard work of diligent professionals such as hairdressers and cosmetologists, the task of making you look good is in capable hands.


Your hairdresser didn’t get to where she is at by learning to put together a few hairdos nor did your neighborhood barber succeed by practicing on family members alone. Instead, each individual completed an extensive and hands-on training program that may have taken 1,000 hours to complete enroute to sitting for a state exam. If this is a career that you are interested in, you can get started today and be on your way to a rewarding career in cosmetology.


Your hairdresser or barber provides a variety of “beauty” services including shampooing, hair cutting, coloring, and styling, as well as the massaging the scalp. These professionals may also be called on to apply makeup, dress wigs and fittings, perform hair removal, and skin and nail services.

Hairstylists typically work for a salon and are responsible for keeping their stations clean and in order. They cut, color and otherwise arrange hair according to the customer’s requirements, using shampoo, rinse, brushes, razors and other applicators to get the job done. These professionals may schedule appointments, demonstrate products, operate cash registers and develop new techniques and styles.


Nearly all hairstylists, cosmetologists and hairdressers have completed education beyond high school. In fact, most states require these professionals to be licensed, following the completion of state-approved courses at cosmetology or beauty schools, or community or technical colleges.

In Rhode Island, for example, students enrolled in a hairdressing program must have completed at least 1,000 hours of classroom instruction, and have worked under the supervision of a licensed hairdresser or barber. Applicants must be at least 18 years old, hold a high school diploma or equivalent and have passed a written and practical exam.


The median salary for hairstylists, barbers and cosmetologists was $22,700 per year as of 2012 reports the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many professionals work part-time with tips perhaps not fully counted in these numbers.

Those in the 10th percentile averaged $16,800 per year as of 2012 while those in the 25th percentile earned $18,500 per year on average. Workers in the 75th percentile averaged $30,300 per year to $42,400 per year for those in the 90th percentile.

Top average pay for hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists is $38,100 per year for those in the District of Columbia according to the BLS. Among states, Hawaii reported average wages of $30,600 per year followed by Massachusetts at $27,700. Connecticut, South Dakota and Washington tied at $27,000 per year. At the other end of the pay spectrum was West Virginia where hairstylists averaged $18,800 per year to Idaho at $19,200 and Nevada where salaries averaged $19,400 per year.

Job Outlook

The BLS gives the field a bright outlook for new jobs with a 14 percent increase in the number of positions from 2010 to 2020. Most job openings be the result of replacing people that have left the industry.


Summary Report for: 39-5012.00 – Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists

US Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Barbers, Hairdressers, and Cosmetologists

See Also10 Job Prep Tips For College Seniors


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Categories: Career Planning