Hair Designer: Job Description, Salary, Duties and Requirements

Oct 20, 2021

Hair designers, or hair dressers, are professionals in hair styling. They consult with clients in order to find a suitable style, then they bring that hairstyle to life. They may be responsible for cutting and coloring hair, and sometimes other specialty techniques. All states require an active license for this profession.

Essential Information

Hair designers are responsible for styling clients' hair. They work with a variety of hair types and must be able to create different hair styles to help their clients look their best. Hair designers must go to cosmetology school to learn how to style hair and then obtain a state license.

Required Education Cosmetology school
Other Requirements State license
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029) -2%*
Median Annual Salary (2019) $26,090*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Job Description for Hair Designers

Hair designers consult with their customers about the kind of hairstyle they'd like. Based on this discussion, they attempt to create an attractive style that compliments, and in some cases, transforms, their clients' appearance. They may also provide advice on make-up application and scalp treatments.

Many hair designers work in hair salons, but they also work in resorts, hotels and spas. Hair designers are often self-employed individuals who pay their own taxes. Some own their own salons, but many opt for renting booths from salon owners. In this instance, they pay a monthly or weekly fee for chair space. Other hair designers work out of their homes or offer mobile services, which means they travel to customers to provide their services.

Hair Designers' Salary

Salaries for hair designers often include tips and commission. Commissions are based on the cost of the services they perform. They may also get commissions on the salon products they sell. In May 2019, the BLS reported that workers in the 90th percentile or higher earned $51,870 or more per year, whereas the bottom 10th percentile earned $18,420 or less per year. The BLS noted that salaries also depend on the location and industry.

Duties of Hair Designers

Hair designers clean, cut, bleach or color their customers' hair. Other tasks may include highlighting, giving deep conditioning treatments and grooming clients' hairpieces. Hairstylists also properly apply permanent chemical treatments, such as relaxers, waves or curls. They sometimes remove facial hair and assist their customers with nail care.

Aside from working directly with their clients, hair designers keep their workstations or salons clean and hygienic. They sanitize tools used on multiple customers after every use. Hair designers with their own salons also have the responsibility of management. They must order supplies and advertise their businesses, in addition to monitoring inventory and hiring and supervising workers.

Hair Designer Requirements


Every state requires hairdressers to be licensed. This means that licensing candidates must attend a state-approved school of cosmetology and hold a high school diploma or GED. In some states, it may be possible to become a licensed hair designer without attending a cosmetology course. This happens only if applicants have their state's required amount of apprenticeship hours or adequate work experience.

Many high schools offer courses in cosmetology, and these can be a good foundation for students who later enroll in cosmetology school. Cosmetology programs generally take anywhere from nine months to two years to complete. Students learn about hair-styling instruments, skin and nail care, coloring and styling techniques, sanitation procedures and skin disorders.


After graduating from cosmetology school, students can take their state's cosmetology licensing examinations. They often include oral and written tests covering practical knowledge. Age requirements vary by state, but 16 is the minimum age requirement. Licensing applicants must complete a certain number of hours in classroom theory and practice, and certain states may also require actual work experience. Applicants pay registration, application and examination fees to their state licensing board.

States may require license renewal, which can involve taking continuing education courses. Hair dressers can attend seminars or take cosmetology refresher courses as often as the state mandates. Courses may include techniques in hair wrapping or braiding.

Aspiring hair designers need to graduate from a cosmetology school and gain licensure in order to work. They can pursue education in specialty techniques as well. Good interpersonal skills would be helpful when consulting with clients.

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