How Much Does a Hairdresser Make

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

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Starting a Career as a Hairdresser

If you've always enjoyed fixing your hair, doing your friends' makeup and keeping up with the latest hair and beauty trends, becoming a hairdresser might be a good career pursuit. Depending on your state's requirements, you can often complete your training in one to two years, even if you are taking classes part-time. The industry offers flexible hours for working mothers and anticipates higher-than-average job growth over the next two decades.

Job Description

Hairdressers, also known as cosmetologists and hairstylists, provide personal appearance services. In most cases, hairdressers focus on hair services, including haircutting, styling and chemical services such as coloring and straightening. They often provide consulting services, recommend hairstyles and colors that they believe will suit their clients, as well as suggest hair care products and treatments.

However, as licensed cosmetologists, hairdressers also have the option of providing a variety of personal appearance services including facials, makeup applications, nail care and body hair removal.

Education Requirements

To become a hairdresser, you'll have to complete a state-approved cosmetology course and pass a licensing exam. Each state sets its own requirements for educational programs. Program length varies, but state laws often require around 1,500 hours of training. Some states also permit cosmetologists to prepare for their licensing exams by undergoing an apprenticeship. There are many standalone cosmetology schools, although some are connected to multidisciplinary trade schools or community colleges.

If you are concerned about the impact that returning to school would have on your family, keep in mind that many cosmetology schools offer full- and part-time programs. In addition, the schools also provide flexible scheduling, including evening and weekend classes.

According to the United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average median hourly wage for a hairdresser was $11.66 in May 2016. However, earnings can vary significantly: The lowest 10 percent of earners made less than $8.76 per hour, while the top 10 percent of earners make $23.58.

About the Industry

Fifty-two percent of hairdressers are employed by personal care service companies, such as salons and spas. However, 43 percent of hairdressers are self-employed. In some cases, they rent a chair or station at a salon or travel to provide clients with services at the client's home or office. If you become a hairdresser, expect to spend a lot of time on your feet, though most working environments are well-lit and a comfortable temperature.

Hairdressers usually have a great deal of flexibility in determining how many hours they want to work each week. If you are looking for a career that provides various hours and the ability to choose whether you want to work part-time, this may be a good industry for you to explore.

Years of Experience

According to, hairdressers can expect to earn more as they progress in their careers. Reported median wages for individuals at different levels of experience are:

  • 0–5 years: $24,000
  • 5–10 years: $26,000
  • 10–20 years: $30,000
  • More than 20 years: $27,000

Job Growth Trend

There is currently a strong interest in personal appearance services in the United States, particularly in hair coloring and straightening treatments. As a result, the BLS anticipates that hairdressing jobs will grow about 11 percent between 2016 and 2026, faster than most industries. However, you should be aware that competition for jobs in higher-paying salons is likely to remain fierce.