Hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists
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Overview
Barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists provide haircutting, hairstyling, and a range of other beauty services.
Predicted employment growth
Over the next decade, jobs for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists are expected to grow by 13%, and should have about 92,500 job openings a year.
Safety from automation
Hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists are less likely to be automated than 75% of other careers.
Workforce size
Hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists, with 617,300 workers, form a larger workforce than 93% of careers.
Education
Only 7% of hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists have a bachelor's degree or higher.
Education attained by hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Context: workers with bachelor's degrees
Fewer hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists have bachelor's degrees than 75% of other careeers.
Salaries
The median (middle) salary for 95% of all other jobs is higher than the middle salary for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists. The graph shows inflation-adjusted salaries for most hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists.
This job's median $25KAll jobs' median $39K$25K$38K20142015201620172018$0$10K$20K$30K$40K$50K
Context: Median Salary
Gender
Women account for 89% of hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists -- that's a larger percentage than 97% of other jobs.
Gender of hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists
Men
Women
Context: Salary inequity
For each career, we compared the median (middle) men's salary to the median women's salary. For hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists, the median men's salary was 24% more the median woman's salary.
Race/Origin
About 22% of hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists are minority, and 18% are foreign-born.
Race/origin of hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists
White
Black
Pacific Islander
Hispanic
Asian
American Indian
Multiracial
Other
Context: Foreign-born workers (18%)
Where are the most jobs?
We ranked the number of jobs in Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists per thousand workers in each state, DC, and Puerto Rico. The darker the blue, the higher the job density.
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
Job benefits
Employer or union-sponsored pension plans are offered to 8% of hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists, and 14% have company-sponsored health insurance (27% have dependents enrolled in their employer's health plan).
Employer-provided health coverage for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists
100% premiums covered
Partial premiums covered
Plan with no cost sharing
No health insurance
The downside
Some jobs are more stressful than others, and some are just plain dangerous. The following list gives the percentages of hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists who report hazardous or difficult situations typically occurring at least once a week.
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety (59%)
  • Time Pressure (56%)
  • Exposed to Contaminants (54%)
  • Exposed to Minor Burns, Cuts, Bites, or Stings (38%)
SOURCES:24.0 O*NET
Salary and diversity
Salary overview
What do hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists earn?

In this section, we want to give you a clear idea of what you can expect to earn in this career. We use two sources of data here: the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which asks employers to classify their workforce and to report salaries using the SOC-specialty level of reporting, and the American Community Survey (ACS), which asks people to classify their jobs using the broad classifications that ididio uses for career profiles, and to self-report their salaries. For some jobs, the differences in survey approaches between BLS and ACS can paint a very different end-picture. Whenever possible, we provide data from both sources.

The BLS-compiled salary data is reported by companies for their employees. This data excludes self-employed workers. We first show the distribution of salaries for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists, and then we show how the middle (median) salary for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists compares to the BLS-computed median salaries of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists (BLS Salary Data)
$25K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Context: Median salaries across careers (BLS Salary Data)
$25K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
We compiled household data from the ACS to determine the salaries that people working at least 35 hours a week report themselves to earn. Unlike the BLS estimates, this data includes self-employed wages. We first show the full salary distribution for all hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists, and then we show how the median (middle) salary for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists compares to the median ACS-reported salary of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists (ACS Salary Data)
$25K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Context: Median salaries across careers (ACS Salary Data)
$25K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Employers and salary
A look at employers and corresponding salaries
The donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, and following we show the salary distributions for these workers based on those employer types. For some careers, the salaries can be vastly different between private, government, and self-employment. As with our salary overview, we view the both the BLS economists' salary profiles and the household-reported salaries from ACS to get a thorough understanding of where hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists work and for what salary. We have the great faith in the accuracy of economist-vetted BLS data; however, the BLS restrictions on which employers are surveyed skews the data a bit (read more in the sources), and the ACS responses provide different and useful categorizations of employers and salaries.
Employers of Hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists (ACS)
Private for-profit (56.6%)
Private not-for-profit (0.7%)
Local government (0.1%)
State government (0.1%)
Federal government (0.1%)
Self-employed incorporated (9.9%)
Self-employed not incorporated (32.5%)
Working without pay (0.1%)
Distribution: Salaries of hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists by type of employer (ACS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type calculated by aggregating individual household survey responses.
$25K$24K$26K$31K$23K$42K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000$80,000Self-employed not incorporatedSelf-employed incorporatedLocal governmentPrivate not-for-profitPrivate for-profitAll
Distribution: Salaries of hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists by type of employer (BLS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type as reported by BLS based on large employer-focused surveys. We note that smaller employer categories are not included by BLS.
$25K$28K$25K$31K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000State governmentLocal governmentPrivateAll
Age and career advancement
Salary growth for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists

The biggest take-away from the following two charts is the relationship between salary and experience that we can infer from age. Does this job seem to attract especially younger or older workers? Does it reward experience?

Take a minute a look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working in this career changes. We only provide this data when there are enough consistent ACS survey responses to allow a reasonable margin of error, so for some careers you will see gaps in our reporting of salary by age.

$27K$26K$26K$27K$27K$26K$19K$25K$28K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KSalary distribution20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64
020K40K60K80KNumber employed20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Gender and Equity
Hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists and gender

With 89% women, this occupation has a higher percentage of women than 97% of careers.

Context: Women in the workforce
89%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Gender of Hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists
Men (11%)
Women (89%)
Distribution: Salaries by gender

As we'll illustrate at the bottom of this section, the median (middle) salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 20%, and the difference for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists tops that, with the median salary for men 24% higher than the median salary for women. This chart shows you the salary range for most workers by gender.

$25K$31K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KWomenMen
Context: Salary Inequity

Nationwide there are twenty careers for which men do not have a higher median (middle) salary than women. The chart below shows the salary inequity, the percentage by which the median men's salary is higher than the median women's salary, for most jobs. Hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists have one of the higher percentage increases for men's salary, with the increase for the men's median salary over the women's median salary in this job even higher than that for 69% of other jobs.

24%0%20%40%60%80%100%

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Race/Origin
Race and origin of hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists

The representation of minority and foreign-born workers is quite different between careers, and the relative pay of those workers also varies significantly between careers. There is a higher percentage of minority hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists than for 59% of other careers. This career hires a larger percentage of foreign-born workers than most other careers.

Race/origin of hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists
White (73% )
Black (12% )
Asian (6% )
Other (5% )
Multiracial (2% )
Hispanic (1% )
American Indian (1% )
Pacific Islander (0% )
Context: Representation of minorities in the workforce
22%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Context: Representation of foreign-born workers
18%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Distribution: Salaries for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists by race/origin

For some careers, there is a pay disparity depending on race or origin, though this is not prevalent. We calculate standard errors for all of our calculations, and when the error is high we do not show results. Therefore, for some jobs will have omitted race/origin categories.

$20K$21K$21K$23K$24K$25K$26K$0$20K$40K$60KAmerican IndianHispanicOtherBlackMultiracialAsianWhite
Distribution: Salaries for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists by nativity
$22K$26K$0$20K$40K$60KAll foreign-bornAll native citizens

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Pathways to this career
Education requirements and salary
Education attained by hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists typically hold a postsecondary nondegree award.

Sometimes the typical education identified by the BLS differs a bit from the reality of the how much education current workers actually have. The donut shows the education level held by people currently working as hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists as reported in responses to the American Community Survey. Following, we investigate whether education level influences salary for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists.

Education attained by hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists
None
High School
Some College
Associate's Degree
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Deg/Doct
Doctorate
Details: Education and training recommended for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists

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.

Details: Licensing and certification recommended for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists

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.

Distribution: Salary by education level

What level of education is truly needed for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists? Below we see the distribution of hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists salaries based on the education attained. These comparisons are based on all survey responses by those who identified themselves as hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists, and are not intended as a statistical analysis of salary differences that would correct for non-educational factors that could contribute to high or low earnings.

$18K$25K$26K$26K$31K$30K$28K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KNone (6%)High School (43%)Some College (33%)Associate's Degree (12%)Bachelor's Degree (6%)Master's Degree (1%)Professional Deg/Doct (0%)
Certificate/degree pathways

The Department of Education recommends the following college degree programs as preparation for this career. You can click a program row to learn more about the program and explore a list of schools that offer the program.

Program
Education
Education level of awarded degrees
Less than bachelor's
bachelor's degree
Higher than bachelor's
Gender
Gender of graduates
Men
Women
Race/Origin
Race/origin of graduates
White
Minority
International
Number of degrees awarded in 2017
Cosmetology
60,118
Cosmetology, Barber, and Nail Instructor
1,744
Make-Up Artist
1,565
Specialized Cosmetology and Related Personal Grooming Arts
1,535
Hair Styling and Hair Design
707
Salon Management
266
Electrolysis and Electrolysis Technician
156
Permanent Cosmetics and Tattooing
16
Switching Careers
Most common new jobs
The most common next careers for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists

What jobs will most hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists hold next year?

The data in this chart comes from person interviews for the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. The survey interviews households eight times over a two-year period, allowing us a glimpse into how people move from job to job. You can see more details from the results of the survey in our last tab in this section, and you can read about our methodology in our source descriptions.

Here we see all of the jobs that at least 1% of hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists reported holding in their second year's survey. Is your future job on this list? For hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists, there isn't a lot of action in this chart! This isn't a career that invites much moving around.

Hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologistsFirst-line supervisors of personal service workersPersonal appearance workers
Lateral career moves
Lateral job transitions for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists

A lateral career transition is a move to a job with similar pay and responsibilities. A move to such a job can offer a change of pace without an increase in stress or a decrease in pay. The following table simply identifies all 2 jobs which were held by at least 1% of survey respondents before working as hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists as well as 1% of respondents after working as hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists. Select a row to investigate the job's full description and determine if it truly offers an opportunity for a lateral transition.

Lateral-move careers for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists
Annual openings
How many openings are expected each year?
Salary
Salary distribution for people in this occupation. Range is 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Gender
Men
Women
First-line supervisors of personal service workers
34,400
$0$200K$33K
Personal appearance workers
29,500
$0$200K$22K
Full prior and next career listings
Prior and next careers for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists: full listings

What do people typically do before and after they work as hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists? Here are the full lists of all jobs that at least 1% of hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists surveyed reported as holding a year earlier or later.

Choose which type of transition to view
Prior jobs
Next jobs
Prior careers for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists
Annual openings
How many openings are expected each year?
Salary
Salary distribution for people in this occupation. Range is 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Gender
Men
Women
Percentage Transitioning
What percentage worked in this job the previous year?
Hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists
92,500
$0$200K$25K
68.5%
First-line supervisors of personal service workers
34,400
$0$200K$33K
5.2%
Personal appearance workers
29,500
$0$200K$22K
2.4%
Barbers
7,000
$0$200K$24K
1.4%
No occupation
8.2%
Read about hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists
Responsibilities and activities
Responsibilities and activities

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.

Personality and skills
Personality and skills

Can you see yourself in the ranks of hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists? Here are the skills and traits that could lead to success.

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.
Trends in employment
Salary trends
Distribution and trends: Salaries for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists
Choose actual dollars or inflation-adjusted dollars to view
Adjusted for inflation
Historic dollars

In 2018, the median (middle) for 95% of all other jobs were higher than the median (middle) salary for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists. This graphic shows how the salary distribution (adjusted for inflation) has changed for this job over recent years. The gray line, as a comparison, shows the median salary of all US workers.

This job's median $25KAll jobs' median $39K$26K$38K200420052006200720082009201020112012201320142015201620172018$0$10K$20K$30K$40K$50K
Projected versus actual employment
Exploring actual employment trends versus projected trends

Currently, jobs for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists are anticipated to grow by 13% over the next decade; only 16% of jobs are predicted to grow more.

The projected employment for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists is the best guess created by talented economists and statisticians at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, as you look through several careers you'll notice that the projections are heavily influenced by past performance and may miss current trends. No one can tell the future, and as new information and better techniques are developed, actual counts and future projections may change. Here's a glimpse at the actual counts versus the projections over time.

20002010202020300200,000400,000600,000800,000
Employment counts
Actual measured employment
BLS 10-year predictions
Variation by state
Employment
State-by-state employment numbers

Some careers tend to be centered in specific parts of the country. For example, most jobs in fashion are in New York or California. Let's see if your dream job is easy to find in your dream location! We have a few choices for viewing the data that can help you get a full employment picture.

Job density versus job count

Which states hire the most hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists? We wonder if that's a fair question since states come in all sizes, so instead let's start with the question of which states have the highest density of people working as hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists. You can choose to view the number of jobs per state if you prefer.

BLS vs ACS data

This map defaults to employment information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which provides job totals carefully compiled for accuracy and with a primary focus on how employers describe their workers. The BLS job totals do not count self-employed workers. We've also compiled totals using the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) which are based on how workers describe themselves. Sometimes ACS results are quite a bit different from the employer-based BLS data.

Choose the metric to review
Jobs per 1000 working
Number of jobs
Use this data source
BLS
Number of Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists per 1,000 workers (BLS)
Select a state to see local area details
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
0.01.02.03.04.05.0
Salary
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists earn the highest salaries. There are several choices for which data we consider and how we view that data, and each can lead to different conclusions, so please read on...
Median salary versus state ratio

We use two methods to compare salaries across states:

  • In-state comparisons: the ratio of median (middle) salaries for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists.

We hope the ratio allows perspective about how salaries may compare to the regional cost-of-living.

BLS vs ACS data

We have two sources for statewide salary information with important distinctions. The BLS data is created by surveying companies, missing individuals who are self-employed or work for smaller companies. The ACS data is compiled from multi-faceted household surveys and may reflect the inconsistencies that people may have in reporting information.

Choose the metric to review
In-state comparisions
Median salary
Use this data source
BLS
Median salary ratio: Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists to all workers (BLS)
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists earn the highest salary when compared to other jobs in the state. We think this ratio might be a better indicator than the actual salary for your buying power as a state resident.
Select a state to see local area details
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
0.00.20.40.60.81.0
Compare to similar jobs

If this job interests you, then use the dots below to find other jobs you might like. The dots closer to the top represent jobs that are like Hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists (shown with a blue star). Look for the dots to the right to find the best salaries! (We pulled salary data from BLS, and they give a top salary value of just over $200K to protect privacy, so our graph would go much higher if the salaries were not top coded.)

How should the career similarity be computed

There are a number of ways to measure the similarity of jobs, here are a few we provide:

  • Interests: Also known as a Holland Code - Are you a thinker? A helper? What fits your personality?
  • Environment: Are there hazards? Will you be comfortable? Will it be stressful?
  • Knowledge: What do you need to know the most about?
  • Physical Abilities: Do you need to especially strong or coordinated?
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