Barbers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists

What Barbers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists Do

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqgol3sEFvI

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 $14.50 in May 2019.

The median hourly wage for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists was $12.54 in May 2019.

Job Outlook

Employment of barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists is projected to decline 1 percent from 2019 to 2029.

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.

Barbers held about 66,500 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of barbers were as follows:

Self-employed workers 70%
Personal care services 30

Hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists held about 656,100 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists were as follows:

Personal care services 49%
Self-employed workers 41
Retail trade 8

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 workdays. 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.

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 Median Annual Pay, May 2019

Manicurists and Pedicurists

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

Postsecondary nondegree award $25,770

Skincare Specialists

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

Postsecondary nondegree award $34,090

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,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/personal-care-and-service/barbers-hairstylists-and-cosmetologists.htm (visited ).