A hairdresser


Hairdressers offer beauty services such as cutting, colouring, bleaching, permanent waving and styling clients’ hair. They ask their clients about their hairstyle preferences in order to provide customised services. Hairdressers use clippers, scissors and razors. They provide hair and scalp treatments and shampoo, condition and rinse hair.

The duties of a hairdresser include, but are not limited to:

  • Ensuring that clients are satisfied with their hairstyle by providing additional services such as hair coloring or styling
  • Caring for the health of clients’ hair by using products designed to keep hair healthy
  • Cleaning work stations, equipment, and utensils after each client to ensure sanitation
  • Analyzing clients’ hair, skin tone, and facial structure to recommend hairstyles that will suit them
  • Applying chemical treatments such as dyes, perms, or bleaches to hair
  • Cutting and trimming hair, using scissors, clippers, electric razors, or other tools such as blow dryers, straightening irons, or curling irons to style hair
  • Performing basic repairs such as fixing split ends or replacing missing chunks of hair
  • Cleaning hairbrushes, combs, and other tools used in hair care
  • Communicating with clients about their hairstyle preferences and any concerns they may have regarding their hair care

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to hairdresser:

hair cutter
scalp treatment specialist
hair colour specialist
hair colourist
wig stylist
hair-care specialist
hairstyling specialist

Working conditions

Hairdressers work in a variety of settings, including salons, barbershops, day spas, and cosmetology schools. They may also work in department stores, hotels, and resorts. Some hairdressers are self-employed and work in their own homes or in their clients’ homes.

Most hairdressers work full time, and many work evenings and weekends to accommodate their clients’ schedules. Some hairdressers may work part time.

Because they work with their hands and often stand for long periods, hairdressers are susceptible to backaches, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other musculoskeletal disorders. To reduce these risks, hairdressers should take frequent breaks and stretch their muscles periodically throughout the day.

Prolonged exposure to some chemicals may cause skin irritation, so hairdressers often wear protective clothing, such as disposable gloves or aprons.

Minimum qualifications

Hairdressers often need at least a high school diploma to get a job in this field. Many cosmetology schools offer a two-year associate degree in cosmetology. This degree includes courses in cosmetology, business, chemistry, anatomy and physiology, and ethics.

Most hairdressers learn the specific skills and techniques of their role while on the job. Training may last for a few weeks to a few months, depending on the salon and the role. Training often includes instruction on the products the salon sells and how to use them. It may also include instruction on the salon’s scheduling and appointment-making software.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Hairdresser is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Hairdresser career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to hairdresser.

hairdresser assistant
hair removal technician

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of hairdresser. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of hairdresser with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

body artist
wedding planner
life coach
beauty salon manager
massage therapist

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of hairdresser.

  • Hair colouring: The theory and practice of colouring a hairstyle and various process steps and types such as bleaching, highlights, and balayage.
  • Hair: Human hair, its composition and interaction with various chemicals, environment factors and health issues.
  • Hair products: The qualities and applications of various styling products used on different types of hair, such as curling creams, hairspray, shampoos, and conditioners.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of hairdresser.

  • Style hair: Style a person’s hair using the appropriate techniques and products.
  • Work ergonomically: Apply ergonomy principles in the organisation of the workplace while manually handling equipment and materials.
  • Maintain equipment: Regularly inspect and perform all required activities to maintain the equipment in functional order prior or after its use.
  • Advise on hair style: Make recommendations to customers about suitable hair styles, based on their preferences and your own professional judgment.
  • Use equipment for hair care: Use tools to cut, trim or shave hair, such as scissors, clippers, razors and combs.
  • Wash hair: Use shampoo to clean clients’ hair and scalp, use hair conditioners to create volume or make hair more smooth and shiny and afterwards dry the hair with a blow dryer or a towel.
  • Identify customer’s needs: Use appropriate questions and active listening in order to identify customer expectations, desires and requirements according to product and services.
  • Maintain customer service: Keep the highest possible customer service and make sure that the customer service is at all times performed in a professional way. Help customers or participants feel at ease and support special requirements.
  • Satisfy customers: Communicate with customers and make them feel satisfied.
  • Curl hair: Curl a person’s hair using the appropriate techniques and products.
  • Show social competences: Ability to interact effectively with other people.
  • Process payments: Accept payments such as cash, credit cards and debit cards. Handle reimbursement in case of returns or administer vouchers and marketing instruments such as bonus cards or membership cards. Pay attention to safety and the protection of personal data.
  • Dye hair: Dye hair using a special solution to change its colour.
  • Stay up-to-date with fashion trends in hair style: Keep abreast of current and future fashion trends, especially in hair styles.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of hairdresser. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Manage schedule of tasks: Maintain an overview of all the incoming tasks in order to prioritise the tasks, plan their execution, and integrate new tasks as they present themselves.
  • Sell hair products: Sell various styling products used on different types of hair, such as curling creams, hairspray, shampoos and conditioners.
  • Order supplies: Command products from relevant suppliers to get convenient and profitable products to purchase.
  • Manage a small-to-medium business: Manage the organisational, financial and day-to-day operation of a small-to-medium enterprise.
  • Treat scalp conditions: Use specialised lotions, shampoos or equipment to treat scalp or hair problems such as hair loss, hair damage, dandruff or psoriasis.
  • Maintain relationship with suppliers: Build a lasting and meaningful relationship with suppliers and service providers in order to establish a positive, profitable and enduring collaboration, co-operation and contract negotiation.
  • Offer cosmetic beauty advice: Provide customers with advice and beauty tips for creating a new look.
  • Monitor stock level: Evaluate how much stock is used and determine what should be ordered.
  • Maintain wigs: Organise, maintain and repair wigs and hairpieces.
  • Maintain work area cleanliness: Keep the working area and equipment clean and orderly.
  • Organise product display: Arrange goods in attractive and safe way. Set up a counter or other display area where demonstrations take place in order to attract the attention of prospective customers. Organise and maintain stands for merchandise display. Create and assemble sales spot and product displays for sales process.
  • Maintain professional administration: File and organise professional administration documents comprehensively, keep customer records, fill in forms or log books and prepare documents about company-related matter.
  • Administer appointments: Accept, schedule and cancel appointments.
  • Supervise staff: Oversee the selection, training, performance and motivation of staff.
  • Apply hair cutting techniques: Apply various techniques that can be used in the process of cutting a person’s hair, such as layering, slicing and face framing. Give artists haircuts and shaves for stage performances.
  • Recommend cosmetics to customers: Recommend and provide advice on cosmetic products based on the customer’s personal preferences and needs and on the different product types and brands available.
  • Help customers with hair problems: Offer solutions for or ways to deal with hair problems, such as gray hair, hair loss, hair damage or greasy hair, or scalp problems such as dandruff or psoriasis.
  • Treat facial hair: Shape, trim or shave beards and moustaches, using scissors and razors.
  • Design hair style: Design the styles of hair based on the preference of the customer or on the creative vision of the director.
  • Issue sales invoices: Prepare the invoice of goods sold or services provided, containing individual prices, the total charge, and the terms. Complete order processing for orders received via telephone, fax and internet and calculate the customer’s final bill.
  • Train employees: Lead and guide employees through a process in which they are taught the necessary skills for the perspective job. Organise activities aimed at introducing the work and systems or improving the performance of individuals and groups in organisational settings.

ISCO group and title

5141 – Hairdressers

  1. Hairdresser – ESCO
  2. Barbers, Hairstylists and Cosmetologists : Occupational Outlook Handbook – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  3. Hairdresser Job Description: Salary, Skills, & More – Climb the Ladder
  4. Featured image: Photo by Adam Winger on Unsplash
Last updated on November 12, 2022

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