How to Become a Hair Stylist

Hair Stylist Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $33,370
Avg. Pay / hour $16.04
Education 0-6 Months
Job Outlook 8%

Professional Hair Stylists use their creativity and people skills to provide grooming services to their clients.

A successful Hair Stylist will have the necessary skills to enhance their clients’ physical appearance all while creating a strong rapport with their clients.

Many people often go to their favorite stylist because they have built a relationship with them.

However, Hair Stylists must also be creative and have the ability to listen to their customer’s needs.

One misinterpreted request can leave a client with an undesired physical appearance.

This is why it is important for potential Hair Stylists to not only have passion, but the necessary training to be in this profession.

If you are interested in working with people and helping them look their best, consider a career as a Hair Stylist.

Continue reading below to learn more information regarding the necessary education requirements and training to become a Hair Stylist , a general job description, salary and wage information and the future job outlook for this profession.

Education Requirements to Become a Hair Stylist

The majority of states in the United States require candidates who want to become a Hair Stylist to secure a license.

Exact requirements will depend on the state but typically, candidates will have to fulfill a training or educational program in order to qualify for licensure.

Candidates can also opt to expand their skills by studying other cosmetology practices such as skin care and waxing.

Candidates who want to become a Hair Stylist will need to attend a State certified or licensed cosmetology school.

In addition, Hair Stylists who wish to work primarily with men can attend a licensed Barber school.

The average cosmetology or barber program lasts approximately 9 months.

During this time, students will learn the basics of hairstyling including a focus on current trends.

Some students may also benefit from taking classes not related to personal appearance or grooming.

Students will benefit from taking courses in marketing and sales in order to be more successful in their profession.

Licensing requirements will vary by state.

However, the majority of states require candidates to meet a certain age and have a minimum of a high school diploma or its equivalent.

In addition, licensing mandates that candidates complete a state approved barber or cosmetology program.

Licensing exams may require candidates to pass a written portion, an oral exam or perform learned hairstyling techniques and skills.

Hair Stylist Job Description

A Hair Stylist completes an important task to perfect a person’s personal appearance.

Hair Stylists perform a variety of services including: shampooing, trimming, hair dying and the final step styling.

Hair Stylists specializing in cutting men’s hair are referred to as Barbers and perform similar types of functions.

The first step for a Hair Stylist is determining how their client wants to improve their appearance.

A Hair Stylist may make recommendations and make sure they fully understand what their client wants done to their hair.

In addition to hair grooming, Hair Stylists may provide other beauty procedures such as skin care, eye brow waxing and makeup.

Barbers may provide additional services such as shaving, dyeing, hair piece fitting and scalp treatments.

After cutting and styling hair, Stylists always clean up their booth or area making sure it is ready for use for their next client.

Hair Stylist Salary and Career Path

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median wage in 2008 for Hair Stylists was approximately $11 per hour.

The wage range during the same year was approximately $7 to $20 an hour.

Professionals working as Barbers made a median wage of $11.56 per hour during the same year.

The wage range for Barbers during 2008 was approximately $7.50 to 20 an hour.

All estimates provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics included the reporting of tips.

Some factors affecting salary and wage numbers include experience, salon location (whether the salon is located in a populated area or not) and the type of services the salons provides.

Entry level Hair Stylists may work part time which also affects yearly income.

Hair Stylists are categorized as personal appearance workers by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This sector is expected to grow at a fast pace when compared to other professions and sectors.

There is a projected 20 percent increase in job opportunities for people who are entering this field.

Candidates who want to become a Hair Stylist and applying for entry level positions have the best job prospects while those with the most experience will face keen competition at full services and high end salons; candidates with the most experience and who have secured licensure will have the best opportunities.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$72,530
New Hampshire$34,140
New Jersey$39,370
New Mexico$26,280
New York$40,330
North Carolina$34,880
North Dakota$35,630
Rhode Island$32,680
South Carolina$29,570
South Dakota$33,870
West Virginia$30,500
Puerto Rico$23,370

The top earning state in the field is District of Columbia, where the average salary is $72,530.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

District of Columbia - $72,530
Massachusetts - $44,240
Michigan - $44,070
Washington - $43,590
Hawaii - $43,370
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists, OCC Code 39-5012, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a hair stylist?

Hair stylists offers a variety of hair services, including hair cutting, coloring, and styling.

Hair stylists may also advise their clients on how to care for their hair at home.

They typically work in salons and may also own their own business.

Hair stylists must keep their work area and their tools clean and sanitary.

As a hair stylist you will need creativity, dexterity, customer-service skills, listening skills, and time-management skills.

Those who own their own salon have additional responsibilities, such as record keeping, ordering supplies and advertise their business.

Many hair stylists work full time, but part-time schedules are also common.

Those who run their own salon usually have to work overtime in order to fulfill the administrative duties.

How much does a hair stylist make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly wage for hairdressers, hair stylists, and cosmetologists was $11.89 as of May 2018.

Salaries vary widely in this field based on reputation, skills and the region where the salon is located.

Some earn less than $9 an hour, while others make more than $20 an hour.

How much does it cost to become a hair stylist?

In order to be able to practice as a hair stylist, you will need to complete a postsecondary training program at a state-approved cosmetology school and to get your state license.

Some positions also require a high school diploma or equivalent.

Cosmetology training programs can cost anywhere between $5,000-$15,000 and more, depending on the school you choose and the region.

Some states also require applicants to take a four-hour training program in HIV/AIDS before being able to apply for a license.

Licensing exams typically consist of a written and a practical test.

What is the demand for hair stylists?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for barbers, hair stylists, and cosmetologists is expected to grow 8 percent from 2018 to 2028.

This growth stems primarily from the fact that the demand for hair treatments has risen in recent years.

However, you should be ready to face strong competition if you’re seeking employment at a higher paying salon and having a few years of experience will give you an advantage over the other candidates.

How long does it take to become a hair stylist?

In order to be able to practice as a hair stylist, you will need to complete a postsecondary training program in cosmetology and to get a state license.

Training programs at beauty schools can typically be completed in less than a year.

Many states require applicants to be at least 16-18 years of age before applying for licensure.

Some also require a high school diploma and many states also require applicants to have around 1,500 hours of practical experience.

As a hair stylist, you will need to renew your license periodically and to complete continuing education classes.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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