What Are the Different Types of Hairdressing Qualifications?

Hairdressing qualifications differ depending on the jurisdiction and the type of hair services the hairdresser wishes to provide. Before cutting, coloring, or styling hair professionally, a person must be licensed a government agency in many places. An aspiring hairdresser must usually complete an educational program, an apprenticeship, or a combination of the two in order to obtain licensure. Professional certifications, in which a hairdresser demonstrates competence in specific areas of hair care, coloring, or styling and receives recognition from a trade association or industry vendor, are another type of hairdressing qualification.

Those who wish to practice hairdressing in jurisdictions that license the profession may be able to choose from two or more licensing programs. In the United States, for example, someone who provides hair care services may be licensed as a cosmetologist, a barber, or even a natural hair braiding specialist. Each of these hairdressing certifications has its own set of licensing requirements and scope of practice.

While the exact requirements and practice limitations vary depending on the laws in the state where a person chooses to work, in general, cosmetologists must complete a nine-month full-time educational program. Cosmetologists can provide a wide range of beauty services, including hair cutting, styling, and chemical services, as well as non-hair services like manicures, facials, and makeup applications. Barbers, on the other hand, have a shorter training program and are primarily trained to provide hair care services. Natural hair braiders may have the most limited scope of practice, as they are primarily trained in the art of hair braiding and thus are not typically licensed to cut or color hair.

Some hair care professionals may also complete an apprenticeship in addition to their educational hairdressing qualifications. Apprenticeships are a common way to earn hairdressing qualifications that lead to registration as a professional hairdresser in the United Kingdom. As an alternative to licensure, some jurisdictions in the United States offer the opportunity to participate in a cosmetology or barbering apprenticeship. In addition, after completing their initial training, new hairdressers may be able to participate in an apprenticeship, which can help them improve their skills and marketability.

Certification programs are sponsored some professional associations for hairdressers, as well as manufacturers of various types of hair care equipment and products. Hairdressers who have demonstrated specific skills or proficiency in the use of proprietary equipment and products are awarded credentials through these programs. While these hairdressing qualifications usually have no bearing on a hairdresser’s license status, they can be listed on a resume or curriculum vitae as professional accomplishments.