Hairdressers and Cosmetologists
Schools and Education
|Recommended Degree Level||Certificate or Higher|
|Number of Jobs, 2012||355,910|
|Annual Job Growth Rate||3.2%|
|Job Openings per Year (est.)||21,810|
- Every state requires hairdressers and cosmetologists to complete a certificate or higher program provided by a state-licensed cosmetology or barber school. These schools help graduates obtain a license.
- Public and private vocational schools provide training in skin care, hairstyling and other related services. Most of the programs take at least nine months to complete. Many of these schools provide an associate degree.
Most hairdressers and cosmetologists take advanced courses in hairstyling and related services to stay current on the latest trends. Those seeking to own a salon may also want to take sales and marketing courses, however many cosmetology programs review business subjects.
Students can specialize in individual cosmetology fields such as esthetician or nail technician. Estheticians receive training in facial treatments, skincare, chemicals, body wraps, and body hair removal techniques. Nail technicians receive training in manicures, pedicures, nail color treatments, artificial nails and nail diseases.
What you study:
- Hair styling
- Cutting hair
- Hair coloring
- Safety procedures
- Makeup applications
- Manicures and pedicures
- Skincare treatments
Shows a quick overview of the hairdresser and stylist career. Created for the US Dept. of Labor.
A Day in the Life
As a cosmetologist you'll help clients update or change their physical appearance. Sometimes hairdressers and cosmetologists evaluate a client's facial structure and choose a flattering hairstyle.
Hairdressers and cosmetologists typically stand while working. They engage in conversations with their clients. You'll shampoo, cut, color, perm and style hair throughout the day. Some cosmetologists also perform facial treatments, wax treatments and skin treatments. You may decide to offer hair services as well as facial, manicure and pedicure services or you may decide to specialize in one of these fields.
As a hairdresser or cosmetologist you'll have to meet state health and safety standards including sterilizing equipment and keeping your work area clean.
Certifications and Licensing
Every state requires hairdressers and cosmetologists to have a license. Qualifications vary by state, but generally to obtain a license candidates need a high school diploma and graduate from a state-licensed cosmetology or barber program.
Numerous states allow cosmetology training to be credited toward a barbering license and vice versa. A few states combine the two licenses. Although uncommon, some states have reciprocity agreements allowing licensed cosmetologists and barbers to obtain a license in another state without having to acquire additional formal training.
Full-time versus part-time: Typically, cosmetologists and hairdressers can work a small number of hours per week or as many hours as they choose. Some hairdressers and cosmetologists work about 40 hours per week. However, about one-third of cosmetologists work part-time. A cosmetologist may have to work on the weekends and during the evenings.
Work location: Most hairdressers and cosmetologists work in beauty salons, however they also work in hotels, department stores, cruise ships, resorts and day spas. Many hairdressers and cosmetologists own a salon. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports about 48 percent of cosmetology workers are self-employed.
- The Professional Beauty Association (PBA) the largest organizations for salon professionals, provides education and learning forums. The PBA provides a range of educational opportunities for students and people in all segments of the beauty industry including salon/spa professionals, manufacturers and distributors. The Professional Beauty Association also helps students learn how to work the their state licensing board. The PBA also provides webinars covering a variety of industry issues.
- The American Association of Cosmetology Schools offers general information about membership and services as well as information on subjects affecting the cosmetology school industry. Website visitors can search for a school, learn how to get started in the industry and also learn about grants and scholarships. The website also provides student and professional resources.
- The National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology provides testing programs for those preparing for their licensing exam. Candidates can download testing programs in a variety of beauty industry fields.
- Occupational Outlook Handbook from the US Department of Labor is a helpful reference covering many topics for this career, including more details about the workplace, what's needed to become a cosmetologist or hairdresser, and what the job's activities include.