Barbers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists

Summary

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Quick Facts: Barbers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists
2016 Median Pay $24,300 per year
$11.68 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Postsecondary nondegree award
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2016 673,700
Job Outlook, 2016-26 10% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 70,500

What Barbers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists Do

Barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists provide haircutting, hairstyling, and a range of other beauty services.

Work Environment

Barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists work mostly in a barbershop or salon. Physical stamina is important, because they are on their feet for most of their shift. Many work full time, but part-time positions are also common.

How to Become a Barber, Hairstylist, or Cosmetologist

All states require barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists to be licensed. To qualify for a license, candidates are required to graduate from a state-approved barber or cosmetology program and then pass a state exam for licensure.

Pay

The median hourly wage for barbers was $12.38 in May 2016.

The median hourly wage for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists was $11.66 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Employment of barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists is projected to grow 10 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Population growth will lead to greater demand for hair care services.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Barbers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists Do About this section

Barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists
Hairstylists provide hair styling and beauty services.

Barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists provide haircutting, hairstyling, and a range of other beauty services.

Duties

Barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists typically do the following:

  • Inspect and analyze hair, skin, and scalp to recommend treatment
  • Discuss hairstyle options
  • Wash, color, lighten, and condition hair
  • Chemically change hair textures
  • Cut, dry, and style hair
  • Receive payments from clients
  • Clean and disinfect all tools and work areas

Barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists provide hair and beauty services to enhance clients’ appearance. Those who operate their own barbershop or salon have managerial duties that may include hiring, supervising, and firing workers, as well as keeping business and inventory records, ordering supplies, and arranging for advertising.

Barbers cut, trim, shampoo, and style hair, mostly for male clients. They also may fit hairpieces, perform facials, and offer facial shaving. Depending on the state in which they work, some barbers are licensed to color, bleach, and highlight hair and to offer permanent-wave services. Common tools include combs, scissors, straight razors, and clippers.

Hairstylists offer a wide range of hair services, such as shampooing, cutting, coloring, and styling. They often advise clients, both male and female, on how to care for their hair at home. Hairstylists also keep records of products and services provided to clients, such as hair color, shampoo, conditioner, and hair treatment used. Tools include hairbrushes, scissors, blow dryers, and curling and flat irons.

Cosmetologists provide scalp and facial treatments and makeup analysis. Some also clean and style wigs and hairpieces. In addition, most cosmetologists actively recommend professional hair care products or salon hair care products.

Work Environment About this section

Barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists
Barbers usually work in barbershops and must stand for long periods.

Barbers held about 56,400 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of barbers were as follows:

Self-employed workers 72%
Personal care services 27

Hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists held about 617,300 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists were as follows:

Personal care services 52%
Self-employed workers 43
Department stores 2

Barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists work mostly in a barbershop or salon, although some work in a spa, hotel, or resort. Some lease booth space from a salon owner. Some manage salons or open their own shop after several years of experience.

Barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists usually work in pleasant surroundings with good lighting. Physical stamina is important, because they are on their feet for most of their shift. Prolonged exposure to some chemicals may cause skin irritation, so they often wear protective clothing, such as disposable gloves or aprons.

Work Schedules

Many barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists work full time, however part-time positions are also common. Those who run their own barbershop or salon may have long hours. Work schedules often include evenings and weekends―the times when barbershops and beauty salons are busiest. Those who are self-employed usually determine their own schedules.

How to Become a Barber, Hairstylist, or Cosmetologist About this section

Barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists
Workers must obtain a license through a state-approved barber, hairstyling, or cosmetology program.

All states require barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists to be licensed. To qualify for a license, candidates are required to graduate from a state-approved cosmetology program.

Education

A high school diploma or equivalent is required for some positions. In addition, every state requires that barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists complete a program in a state-licensed barber or cosmetology school. These programs are mainly found in postsecondary vocational schools and typically lead to a postsecondary nondegree award or certificate. 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.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists must obtain a license in order to work. Qualifications for a license vary by state, but generally, a person must fulfill the following criteria:

  • Reached a minimum age of 16
  • Received a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Graduated from a state-licensed barber or cosmetology school

After graduating from a state-approved training program, students take a state licensing exam that 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 versa, and a few states combine the two licenses. A fee usually is required to apply for a license, and continuing education units (CEUs) may be required with periodic license renewals.

Some states have reciprocity agreements that allow licensed barbers and cosmetologists to get a license in another state without needing additional formal training or state board testing, but such agreements are not common. Consequently, people who want to work in a particular state should review the laws of that state before entering a training program.

Important Qualities

Creativity. Barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists must keep up with the latest trends and be ready to try new hairstyles for their clients.

Customer-service skills. Workers must be pleasant, friendly, and able to interact with customers in order to retain clients.

Listening skills. Barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists should be good listeners. They must listen carefully to what the client wants in order to make sure that the client is happy with the result.

Physical stamina. Barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists must be able to stand on their feet for long periods.

Tidiness. Workers must keep a neat personal appearance and keep their work area clean and sanitary. This requirement is necessary for the health and safety of their clients and for making clients comfortable enough so that they will want to return.

Time-management skills. Barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists need to manage their time efficiently when scheduling appointments and providing services. For example, routine haircuts do not require the precise timing of some other services, such as applying neutralizer after a permanent wave. Clients who receive timely hair care are more likely to return.

Pay About this section

Barbers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists

Median hourly wages, May 2016

Total, all occupations

$17.81

Barbers

$12.38

Barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists

$11.68

Hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists

$11.66

Personal appearance workers

$11.48

 

The median hourly wage for barbers was $12.38 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $8.76, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $22.79.

The median hourly wage for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists was $11.66 in May 2016. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $8.62, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $23.58.

In May 2016, the median hourly wages for barbers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Personal care services $12.36

In May 2016, the median hourly wages for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Personal care services $11.85
Department stores 9.19

Barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists may receive tips from customers. High quality work and customer service usually contribute to greater tip totals.

Many barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists work full time, however part-time positions are also common. Those who run their own barbershop or salon may have additional hours. Work schedules often include evenings and weekends―the times when beauty salons and barbershops are busiest. Those who are self-employed usually determine their own schedules.

Job Outlook About this section

Barbers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Personal appearance workers

11%

Hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists

11%

Barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists

10%

Barbers

9%

Total, all occupations

7%

 

Overall employment of barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists is projected to grow 10 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations.

Employment of barbers is projected to grow 9 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. The need for barbers will stem primarily from an increasing population, which will lead to greater demand for basic hair care services.

Employment of hairstylists and cosmetologists is projected to grow 11 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Demand for hair coloring, hair straightening, and other advanced hair treatments has risen in recent years, a trend that is expected to continue over the coming decade.

Job Prospects

Overall job opportunities are expected to be good. A large number of job openings will stem from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations, retire, or leave the occupation for other reasons. However, workers should expect strong 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 hairstylists and cosmetologists.

Employment projections data for barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Barbers, hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists

39-5010 673,700 744,200 10 70,500 employment projections excel document xlsx

Barbers

39-5011 56,400 61,600 9 5,200 employment projections excel document xlsx

Hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists

39-5012 617,300 682,700 11 65,300 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2016 MEDIAN PAY Help
Manicurists and pedicurists

Manicurists and Pedicurists

Manicurists and pedicurists clean, shape, and beautify fingernails and toenails.

Postsecondary nondegree award $22,150
Skin care specialists

Skincare Specialists

Skincare specialists cleanse and beautify the face and body to enhance a person’s appearance.

Postsecondary nondegree award $30,270

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists, including education and training, visit

American Association of Cosmetology Schools

Beauty Schools Directory

National Association of Barber Boards of America

For information about state licensing, practice exams, and other professional links, visit

National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology

Professional Beauty Association

O*NET

Barbers

Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Barbers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/personal-care-and-service/barbers-hairstylists-and-cosmetologists.htm (visited November 28, 2017).

Last Modified Date: Friday, November 3, 2017

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2016 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2016, the median annual wage for all workers was $37,040.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2016

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2016, which is the base year of the 2016-26 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2016-26

The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

Employment Change, 2016-26

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2016-26

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2016 to 2026.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

2016 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2016, the median annual wage for all workers was $37,040.