What Is a Hair Stylist? (With Duties, Salary, and Skills)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated January 15, 2023

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A career as a hair stylist can be a good fit for you if you're a creative individual looking to work with a diverse range of customers. This position allows you to manage your schedule while also assisting others in feeling good about themselves. Understanding what this career is about can help you set professional targets and expectations. In this article, we answer “What is a hair stylist?”, explore their duties, review the skills needed for the role, provide their average salary, state the educational requirements, and provide a sample job description.

What is a hair stylist?

If you're interested in fashion trends and aesthetics, you might have wondered, “What is a hair stylist?”. These professionals, also called hairdressers, are cosmetology experts who cut, colour, and groom hair for clients. They may specialize in a particular hair type, style, or colouration. Some hair stylists may also specialize in applying highlights, lowlights, and other colour treatments to customers' hair to help them achieve or maintain a certain look. They typically work together with their clients to choose a cut or colour that complements their style and facial shape.

Hair stylist duties

This position requires candidates to be able to fulfill the following duties:

  • offer haircut and blow-dry services

  • comb and braid hair

  • offer bleaching, colouring, and hair tinting services

  • display and sell hair care and beauty products

  • proactively acquire new clients

  • consistently improve customer retention through fostering relationships and planning visits in advance

  • develop effective presentation, technical, and relationship-building abilities

  • provide outstanding customer service abilities and a strong work ethic

  • show dedication to providing exceptional client service

  • demonstrate a willingness to develop and pursue further education to develop an awareness of current trends

  • create a flexible schedule to work at night, on weekends, and on certain holidays

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Hair stylist skills

To be successful at cutting and styling hair, hair stylists require specific abilities. They can acquire these abilities both at trade school and at the workplace. Hair stylists can also consider continuing their education and staying updated on the latest fashion trends to improve their skills and methods. Here are some of the essential skills for this role:


As a hair stylist, it can be helpful to study current fashion trends and be willing to experiment with new haircuts. A hair stylist may use a customer-supplied image as a reference and duplicate the desired style for the client. In scenarios where clients don't provide any reference image, hairdressers require creativity to create a good look.

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Customer-service skills

Hair stylists are often friendly, pleasant, and capable of interacting with clients effectively. Excellent customer service can encourage satisfied customers to return and refer others to you. As salons may also offer the sale of styling supplies, hairdressers require these skills to help determine a client's desires and recommend the appropriate style products. Catering effectively to client needs can help create an enjoyable and memorable experience.

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Listening skills

Hairdressers are usually attentive listeners. They often exhibit patience and an open mind. This can help hairdressers consider and better understand the client's instructions to achieve the best look for them. Doing this can help ensure that the client feels satisfied with the final look.

Physical endurance and dexterity

Stylists usually stand for long periods, and this requires endurance. A pair of supportive and comfortable shoes can also aid the hair stylist over those long hours of standing. In addition to physical endurance, a hair stylist may require dexterity to style and cut hair and handle small objects. This skill can allow the stylist to grab, manipulate, and assemble small components with precise and synchronized movements.


Hair stylists often maintain a nice look and a clean and sanitary work environment. This kind of environment is essential to help ensure the well-being and safety of their clients. Complying with relevant health and hygienic standards can help make clients feel at ease and encourage them to return.

Time-management skills

Effective time management can help hairdressers organize their workday to accommodate appointments and responsibilities. The hair stylist may prioritize their tasks and create a time limit for each appointment. Customers who receive quick hair care may be more likely to return.

Related: Benefits of Effective Time Management (With Actionable Tips)

Active listening

A hair stylist can actively listen to comprehend the meaning of a client's message. A stylist who uses active listening pays close attention to the details. Active listening can enhance a hair stylist's capacity to learn, instruct, identify challenges, and stay emotionally connected to others.

Related: 9 Ways to Improve Your Active Listening Skills


Hairdressers may sometimes face problematic situations in the course of their work. For instance, a client may visit the hair stylist with a flawed haircut or unsatisfactory colouring. Hairdressers can use problem-solving skills to identify the issue and devise a remedy that works for both the client's hair and their budget.

Salary for hair stylists

The national average salary for a hair stylist is $49,402 per year. This figure may vary depending on their skill level, years of experience, education, certifications, and other considerations, such as location. The earning potential for a hair stylist also varies greatly depending on whether they own their own business or work for someone else.

Related: How to Become a Hairdresser (With Skills and Salary)

Hairdresser requirements

Here's a list of requirements typically necessary to work in the role of a hairdresser:


Most hair salons require stylists to have a high school diploma or equivalent and to have completed a province-approved cosmetology or beauty program. In a cosmetology school, students can learn how to cut, colour, and style hair. They can also get hands-on experience by working with real clients while being supervised by an instructor. Students may learn courses like colour theory, how to cut for the client's facial structure, how to apply facials, techniques for shaping nails, and how to perform pedicures and manicures. The curriculum usually takes six to 18 months to finish.

Hairdressers can pursue licensure after completing their studies in a cosmetology program. If a stylist wants to establish their own hair salon or barbershop, it may be helpful to acquire a university or college degree in business administration or marketing.


When hair stylists first work in a salon, they usually receive additional on-the-job training. They typically receive guidance on specific styling and hairdressing processes that a particular salon may apply. They may also learn how to use a scheduling system to monitor their appointments accurately. Stylists can also acquire relevant skills and knowledge by doing an apprenticeship under the supervision of an experienced stylist. During the program, they can learn styling methods while earning money. Apprenticeships may range from one to four years in length.

Hair stylist job description example

Below is an example of a hairdresser job description businesses may use when advertising a job vacancy:

We seek applicants with artistic flair and creativity for the hair stylist position. The duties of a hair stylist include advising clients on hair styling alternatives, discussing the benefits of various hair care products, encouraging clients to purchase their retail products, and remaining current on the newest hair trends and styling techniques. The best candidates are skilled people who can attract and retain loyal clients. This demands excellent interpersonal and communication abilities. Hair stylist requirements for this role include:

  • GED or high school diploma

  • licensure from a school of cosmetology

  • prior experience as a hair colourist or stylist

  • diverse skillset of colouring and styling techniques

  • expertise with hot irons, curling irons, and blow dryers

  • strong interpersonal and communication skills

  • effective oral communication

  • physical endurance

  • creative attitude and a flair for aesthetics

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organization and a candidate's experience, academic background, and location.

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