Occupationally, hairdressing is expected to grow faster than the average for all other occupations, at 20%. A state license is required for hairdressers to practice, with qualifications varying from state to state. Generally a person interested in hairdressing must have a high school diploma or GED, be at least 16 years of age, and have graduated from a state-licensed barber or cosmetology school. Full-time programs often last 9 months or more, leading to an associate degree. After students graduate from a program, they take a state licensing exam, which often consists of a written test, and a practical test of styling or an oral exam. Hairdressers must pay for licenses, and occasionally licenses must be renewed. Some states allow hairdressers to work without obtaining a new license, while others require a new license. About 44% of hairdressers are self-employed, often putting in 40-hour work weeks, and even longer among the self-employed. In 2008, 29% of hairstylists worked part-time, and 14% had variable schedules. As of 2008, people working as hairdressers totaled about 630,700, with a projected increase to 757,700 by 2018.
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