Hairstylist National Occupational Analysis (NOA) 2016

The Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship (CCDA) recognizes this National Occupational Analysis (NOA) as the national standard for the occupation of Hairstylist.

2016 – Occupational Analyses Series

Disponible en français sous le titre : Coiffeur/coiffeuse

NOC: 6271

Designation Year: 1986

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General Information


“Hairstylist” is this trade’s official Red Seal occupational title approved by the CCDA. This analysis covers tasks performed by hairstylists whose occupational title has been identified by some provinces and territories of Canada under the following names:




























Hairstylists shampoo, cut, style and chemically treat hair. They may also provide other services such as scalp treatments and hairpiece services. In some jurisdictions, hairstylists may also provide additional services such as basic natural nail services, basic facial care and ear piercing.

To be a successful hairstylist, one must incorporate technical and interpersonal skills. Continuous personal and professional development and client retention are crucial for long-term success. Hairstylists may recommend styles based on trends, clients’ physical features and lifestyle. Critical thinking, questioning and listening skills are important to serve their clientele. Depending on the workplace, recommending and selling hair and skin products may be done by the hairstylist.

According to jurisdictional requirements, hairstylist may work in hair salons, spas, barber shops, schools, hair replacement clinics, health care establishments, hotels, and in the cruise, fashion and entertainment industries. With experience, hairstylists may move into other positions such as salon managers, owners, fashion consultants, educators, platform artists and product sales representatives. Salons may specialize in services to either women or men, or both. Hairstylists may be remunerated through salary, commission, a combination of salary and commission or chair rental agreements. Some hairstylists work out of their residences where by-laws allow.

Hairstylists work with various tools and equipment including brushes, combs, shears, clippers, razors, hair dryers and thermal irons. They own most of their tools and must keep them sanitized, disinfected and maintained.

Some hairstylists specialize in areas such as cutting, hair extensions and chemical services. In addition, diversity across Canada requires specialization in ethnic specific services.

Hairstylists work in clean environments, though the chemicals that they use may irritate their skin and produce strong odours and fumes. Some physical considerations of this trade are long periods of standing, posture fatigue and repetitive motion. This may result in repetitive strain injury, back and foot pain, although ergonomic considerations may reduce these effects.

Key attributes for people entering this trade are: communication skills, personal interaction, self-motivation, coordination and manual dexterity, stamina, colour vision and depth perception. Respect, professionalism, teamwork, tact, discretion and creativity are important personal qualities. To keep current with trends and styles, hairstylists need to update their skills through trade shows and other educational venues. They must also understand and implement personal and public hygiene procedures to maintain workplace health and safety.

This analysis recognizes similarities or overlaps with the work of estheticians.

Continuous learning and upgrading on styles, techniques, products and tools are crucial to this trade for professional success.

Occupational Observations

The hairstyling industry is becoming more diversified in areas that are not part of the initial training. With clients becoming more educated about trends, hairstylists need to be motivated to stay current in the industry. Continuous learning is paramount to a hairstylist’s success.

While the industry attracts creative and artistic individuals, business skills are increasingly necessary to become a successful hairstylist.

With a movement towards health and wellness, hair products and services are adapting to meet this trend. The quality and diversity of products has improved for stylists and clients alike. This has encouraged salons to realize the importance of retail diversity for greater profits.

Salons are being designed to optimize the client experience and increase sales.

Digital technology is being used to track daily salon operations, advertise products and services, store client information and perform financial functions.

The Privacy Act is impacting the industry, further protecting the client and hairstylist.

Essential Skills Summary

Essential skills are needed for work, learning and life. They provide the foundation for learning all other skills and enable people to evolve with their jobs and adapt to workplace change.

Through extensive research, the Government of Canada and other national and international agencies have identified and validated nine essential skills. These skills are used in nearly every occupation and throughout daily life in different ways.

A series of CCDA-endorsed tools have been developed to support apprentices in their training and to be better prepared for a career in the trades. The tools can be used independently or with the assistance of a tradesperson, trainer, employer, teacher or mentor to:

  • understand how essential skills are used in the trades;
  • learn about individual essential skills strengths and areas for improvement; and
  • improve essential skills and increase success in an apprenticeship program.

Tools are available online or for order.

The application of these skills may be described throughout this document within the competency statements which support each subtask of the trade. The following are summaries of the requirements in each of the essential skills, taken from the essential skills profile.

Hairstylists read a variety of material including bulletins, manufacturers’ specifications, notices, labels, product inserts, client history profiles and forms. They read regulations and agreements outlining chair-rental contracts, salaries and commissions. Hairstylists may read city by-laws to determine licensing requirements and allowable business practices. They read articles and trade magazines to stay informed about industry trends and developments as well as descriptions of new products.

Hairstylists locate information on labels to determine ingredients, storage techniques and safety hazards. They also review trend releases and specifications on colour charts, diagrams and tables in order to identify processing times, mixing ratios and colouring agents. They consult client history profiles.

Hairstylists update client history profiles. They complete forms and also write reminders/notes to co-workers and clients.

Hairstylists use numeracy in a range of tasks. For example, they measure the amount of fluids using calibrated beakers and tubes. They also compare measurements of time, temperature and fluid volume to product specification and colouring charts. Hairstylists determine length of hair being cut. When scheduling appointments, they also determine amount of time needed to complete appointments and maximize productivity by taking into consideration condition of hair, service being delivered and time specified on product information sheet. They complete financial transactions and collect payment for hairstyling, services and products.

Hairstylists communicate with clients to determine customers’ need and hairstyling service required. They discuss a variety of topics with clients including fashion trends and hairstyle choices. Hairstylists also exchange information with coworkers, suppliers and supervisors. There may be a need to provide reassurance and resolve conflicts.

Hairstylists use thinking skills to select tools and products required to create specific hairstyles and to judge the performance of hair care products by considering customers’ hair. They use problem solving skills to meet client preferences. Hairstylists evaluate condition of hair and scalp to determine treatment and hairstyle options.

Hairstylists may use current technology to communicate with suppliers, access product manufacturers’ website and update client information. They may use calculators or point of sales systems to complete numeracy-related tasks. They may use social media for marketing themselves, networking with others, researching current trends, inspiring creativity and training/self-development. Hairstylists may use technology to create images of desired hairstyles.

Hairstylists may work independently or with other team members to perform tasks and optimize client experience in a professional manner. Hairstylists may also mentor apprentices.

Continuous learning is important for hairstylists due to ongoing changes in the industry. They also learn by speaking with co-workers and colleagues and by participating in training. Hairstylists may also learn by reading articles, attending educational events and shows, analyzing photographs and noting hairstyles worn by style leaders.


The Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship (CCDA) and Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) wish to express sincere appreciation for the contribution of the many tradespersons, industrial establishments, professional associations, labour organizations, provincial and territorial government departments and agencies, and all others who contributed to this publication.

Special acknowledgement is extended by ESDC and the CCDA to the following representatives of the trade.

  • Tony Ambrogio - Ontario
  • Daniel Benoit - Quebec
  • Norma Brine - New Brunswick
  • Joseph Codispoti - British Columbia
  • Melanie Davignon - Yukon
  • Michelle Fortin - Northwest Territories
  • Jennifer Ghaney - Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Monia Grieco - Quebec
  • Amanda Malainey - Alberta
  • Lloyd Petrie - Nova Scotia
  • Erica Roberts - Prince Edward Island
  • Shannon Rudy - Manitoba
  • Laddie Wesolowski - Saskatchewan

This analysis was prepared by the Workplace Partnerships Directorate of ESDC. The coordinating, facilitating and processing of this analysis were undertaken by employees of the National Occupational Analysis (NOA) development team of the Trades and Apprenticeship Division. The host jurisdiction of Saskatchewan also participated in the development of this NOA.

Comments or questions about NOAs may be forwarded to:

Trades and Apprenticeship Division
Labour Market Integration Directorate
Employment and Social Development Canada
140 Promenade du Portage, Phase IV, 6th Floor
Gatineau, Quebec  K1A 0J9

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