Hairstylist Red Seal Occupational Standard (RSOS)

The Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship (CCDA) recognizes this Red Seal Occupational Standard (RSOS) as the Red Seal standard for the Hairstylist trade.

Occupational Analyses Series

Disponible en français sous le titre : Coiffeur/coiffeuse

NOC: 6271

Designation Year: 1986

RSOS Products for Download

The Hairstylist Red Seal Occupational Standard (PDF, 4.06 MB) is developed by Canadian trade representatives. It collects information about the trade as it is practiced across Canada.

This RSOS information is combined in several ways to generate several RSOS Products, each of these is based on information contained in the complete RSOS, and is geared to user needs:

RSOS Products for Download
Product Purpose
Red Seal Occupational Standard - Hairstylist (PDF, 4.06 MB) A complete description of all trade activities, skills and knowledge. The Standard defines the trade by collecting and organizing elements together.
Trade Profile - Hairstylist (PDF, 599 KB) A quick snapshot of all trade activities in the standard. It can be used to self-assess experience. It can be used to introduce a concise summary of all trade activities to those wanting to learn about the trade. It can also be used for gap analysis.
Red Seal Exam Self-Assessment Guide – Hairstylist (PDF, 510 KB) Use this self-assessment tool to rate your own understanding and experience with the tasks of the trade that are on the Red Seal examination.

General Information

Description of the Hairstylist trade

“Hairstylist” is this trade’s official Red Seal occupational title approved by the CCDA.

Hairstylists shampoo, cut, style and chemically treat hair. In some jurisdictions, hairstylists may also provide services such as scalp treatments, hair addition applications and barbering techniques.

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 and jurisdiction, recommending and selling hair and skin products may be done by the hairstylist.

According to jurisdictional requirements, hairstylists may work in hair salons, spas, barber shops, schools, hair replacement clinics, health care establishments, hotels, and in the tourism, fashion and entertainment industries. With experience, hairstylists may move into other positions such as salon managers, salon owners, fashion consultants, educators, platform artists and product sales representatives. 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 tools. They own most of their tools and must keep them sanitized, disinfected and maintained according to health and safety rules and regulations.

Some hairstylists specialize in areas such as cutting, hair additions, chemical services and gender-spectrum services. In addition, diversity across Canada may require further specialization in ethnic specific services.

Hairstylists work in clean environments, though the chemicals that they use may irritate their skin and have strong odours and fumes that may result in respiratory issues. 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, 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, online platforms and other educational venues. They may need skills in using and maintaining social media sites to showcase and promote their services to existing and potential clients. They must also understand and implement personal and public hygiene procedures to maintain workplace health and safety.

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

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.

The tools are available online or for order at:

The application of these skills may be described throughout this document within the skills and knowledge that support each sub-task of the trade. The following are summaries of the requirements in each of the essential skills, taken from the essential skills profile.

  • Reading

    Hairstylists read a variety of materials including bulletins, manufacturers’ specifications and directions, notices, labels, product inserts, client history profiles and forms. They read regulations, agreements outlining chair-rental contracts, salaries and commissions. Hairstylists may read city by-laws to determine health and safety standards, 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.

  • Document Use

    Hairstylists locate information on labels to determine ingredients, storage techniques, safety data sheets (SDS) and safety hazards. They also review trend releases and specifications on swatch books, colour charts, diagrams and tables, and manuals in order to identify processing times, mixing ratios and colouring agents. They consult client records.

  • Writing

    Hairstylists update client records. They complete forms and write reminders/notes to co-workers and clients. They also write a variety of material to promote services and products on social media sites.

  • Oral Communication

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

  • Numeracy

    Hairstylists use numeracy in a range of tasks. For example, they measure the amount of fluids using scales, 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 the 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. They must also calculate percentages for various activities.

  • Thinking

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

  • Digital Technology

    Hairstylists may use current technology to communicate with clients, distributors, access product manufacturers’ website and update client information and book appointments. They may use calculators or point of sale 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.

  • Working with Others

    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

    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, consulting online platforms, analyzing photographs and noting hairstyle and fashion trends, and influencers.

Trends in the Hairstylist Trade

New products and techniques

The introduction of bond rebuilders, which help protect the hair fiber, are allowing technical services that were previously unable to be performed to now be carried out.

There are new colouring techniques such as freehand, hair painting, stenciling and pixilating techniques that continue to gain popularity. There is an increase in multicolour service applications which impact time and cost.

With Canada’s increasingly diverse population, there is an increased need for hairstylists to be able to work with a wide range of textures of hair.

With clients becoming more educated about trends, hairstylists need to be motivated to stay current in the industry. Along with trade shows and educational events, there are more opportunities to access information about styles and techniques through online learning platforms. Continuous learning is paramount to a hairstylist’s success.

Barbering and Facial Grooming

Barbering and facial grooming are growing segments of the hairstylist industry. There is more focus on barbering and facial grooming. Because of this trend, there is a heightened awareness for skills in using clippers, trimmers and razors to create advanced styles such as fades and designs. This comes with the need for a heightened awareness for infection prevention and control.

Digital Technology

There is an increase in the use and management of social media to connect with existing and potential clients. Online platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter enable hairstylists to showcase their work and promote their salon. These platforms have become a powerful marketing tool.


Hairstylists are more aware and accountable of the environmental footprint of products used in large quantities on an everyday basis in hair salons. The recycling of materials such as hair, colour tubes, bottles, aluminum foils, plastics, colours and other products is becoming more popular.

Health and Safety

The use of natural products containing plant extracts, vitamin complexes and essential oils is becoming more commonplace. These products may reduce the toxicity due to less exposure of chemical products and may reduce the risk of allergic and skin reactions.

Hairstylists are becoming more vigilant about health and safety issues such as infection prevention and control, use of Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) and Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S).


The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) is impacting the industry, further protecting the client and hairstylist. Caution should be exercised when handling personal information and using any images of clients in media and advertising.

Industry Expected Performance

All tasks must be performed according to the applicable jurisdictional standards and regulations. All health and safety rules and regulations must be respected and observed. Work should be done efficiently and with competence to industry standards without material waste or environmental damage. All requirements of employers, manufacturers, client specifications, OH&S and WHMIS regulations must be met. At a journeyperson level of performance, all tasks must be done with minimal direction and supervision. As a journeyperson progresses in their career, there is an expectation they continue to upgrade their skills and knowledge to maintain pace with industry and promote continuous learning in their trade through mentoring of apprentices.

Language Requirements

It is expected that journeypersons are able to understand and communicate in either English or French, which are Canada’s official languages. English or French are the common languages of business as well as languages of instruction in apprenticeship programs.


The CCDA and ESDC wish to express sincere appreciation for the contribution of the many tradespeople, industrial establishments, professional associations, labour organizations, provincial and territorial government departments and agencies, and all others who contributed to this publication.

Special thanks are offered to the following representatives who contributed greatly to the original draft of the standard and provided expert advice throughout its development:

  • Tony Ambrogio - Ontario
  • Gaye Cail - New Brunswick
  • Mary Elliott - Manitoba
  • Jeni Fedirchuck - Alberta
  • Monia Grieco - Quebec
  • Jon MacNeil - Nova Scotia
  • Suzannah Masters - Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Deanne Orrell - British Columbia
  • Debbie Renaud - Ontario
  • Erica ML Roberts - Prince Edward Island
  • Lauren Scavarelli - Alberta
  • Patricia Twast - Nova Scotia
  • John Unger - Manitoba
  • Sally Vinden - British Columbia
  • Laddie Wesolowski - Saskatchewan

This standard was prepared by the Apprenticeship and Sectoral Initiatives Directorate of ESDC. The coordinating, facilitating and processing of this standard were undertaken by employees of the standards development team of the Trades and Apprenticeship Division and of Saskatchewan, the host jurisdiction for this trade.