USA Career Guide- Barbers, Hairdressers, and Cosmetologists

Education & Training needed to be  Barbers, Hairdressers, and Cosmetologists

To become barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists a high school diploma or equivalent is the minimum requirement, although  every state requires that barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists complete a program in a state-licensed barber or cosmetology school. Programs in hairstyling, skin care, and other personal appearance services are available both in high schools and in public or private postsecondary vocational schools.
Full-time programs in barbering and cosmetology usually last at least 9 months and may lead to an associate’s degree. Most of these workers take advanced courses in hairstyling or in other personal appearance services to keep up with the latest trends. Those who want to open their own business also may take courses in sales and marketing.
Shampooers do not need formal training. Some short-term on-the-job training under the supervision of a hairstylist or a more experienced shampooer is sufficient.


All states require barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists to be licensed. Qualifications for a license vary by state; but generally, a person must have a high school diploma or equivalent, be at least 16 years old, and have graduated from a state-licensed barber or cosmetology school. After graduating from a state-approved training program, students take a state licensing exam. The exam includes a written test and, in some cases, a practical test of styling skills or an oral exam.
In many states, cosmetology training may be credited toward a barbering license, and vice-verse, and a few states combine the two licenses. A fee is usually required to apply for a license, and periodic license renewals may be necessary.

Pay  of Barbers, Hairdressers, and Cosmetologists

The median hourly wage of barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists was $10.82 in May 2010. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less.
Median hourly wages for occupational specialties in May 2010 were as follows:
     $11.45 for barbers
     $10.94 for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists
     $8.78 for shampooers

Job Prospects of Barbers, Hairdressers, and Cosmetologists

Job opportunities for cosmetologists should be favorable due to growing demand for cosmetology services.  Overall employment of barbers, hairdressers, cosmetologists, and shampooers is expected to grow 14 percent from 2010 to 2020, as fast as the average for all occupations as per BLS. Growth rates will vary by specialty.
  • Employment of barbers is projected to grow 7 percent
  • Employment of hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists is projected to grow 16 percent, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
  • Employment of shampooers is projected to decline 9 percent
A large number of job openings will stem from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations, retire, or leave the occupations for other reasons. However, workers should expect stiff competition for jobs and clients at higher paying salons, of which there are relatively few and for which applicants must compete with a large pool of experienced hairdressers and cosmetologists.

Industrial Overview of Barbers, Hairdressers, and Cosmetologists

Barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists held about 712,200 jobs in 2010. Nearly half were self-employed.
Employment in the detailed occupations that make up barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists was distributed as follows:
Hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists    627,700
Barbers     62,200
Shampooers    22,300
Barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists work mostly in a barbershop or salon, although some work in a spa, hotel, or resort. Some lease booth space in other people's salons. Some manage salons or open their own after several years of experience.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13

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