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Career Map: Hairstylist

© Queen’s Printer for Ontario, 2013

This career map may be used or reproduced by any third party for non-commercial, not-for-profit purposes, provided that no fee, payment, or royalty of any kind shall be charged for any further use of the fact sheet by any person. Any proposed commercial or for-profit use or reproduction of this fact sheet requires a written licence from the Queen’s Printer for Ontario.

Hairstylists cut, style, curl and colour hair; and perform permanent waves; provide hair and scalp treatments. Barbers, whose main duties are to cut and trim hair and trim and style beards and moustaches, are included in this occupation. Hairstylists in Ontario are skilled workers and provide the public with a high standard of service, which is maintained through certification. To work as a Hairstylist in Ontario you must have a valid Certificate of Qualification.

Certification Requirements in Ontario

Hairstylists must be certified to work in Ontario and be a member of the Ontario College of Trades. The Apprenticeship and Certification Act (1998) regulates this trade. It states that all Hairstylists must have a valid Certificate of Qualification, or be registered as an apprentice, before they can work in Ontario. It is illegal to perform the duties of a Hairstylist if you don’t have a valid certificate. This certification is available through Workplace Training Branch Apprenticeship offices of the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU).

To become a Hairstylist in Ontario, you must do one of the following:

  • complete an apprenticeship, which includes approximately 2–3 years of on-the-job training (about 90 per cent of the apprenticeship) and 16 weeks of in-school training (about 10 per cent of the apprenticeship). Graduates from Ministry approved 1500 hour Hairstylist programs at private hairstyling schools are only required to complete 2,000 hours of on-the-job training. Fees for these courses range from $5,000 to $6,000. Apprenticeship is a training agreement between a person who wants to learn a skilled trade and an employer who needs a skilled worker. Apprentices must work with a qualified trainer. An apprentice earns at least minimum wage while working and learning the skills necessary to become a qualified tradesperson or journeyperson. Apprentices receive a Certificate of Apprenticeship when they complete their training. Employers often request this certificate as proof of training and experience


  • have the training and experience from another Canadian province, Canadian territory, or another country that meet the requirements of an apprenticeship in Ontario

When you have met the above requirements, you must:

  • complete and submit an application for the Certificate of Qualification (called the “C of Q”)
  • contact the Ontario College of Trades and pay the examination fees
  • schedule, write and pass the Certificate of Qualification exam

Competencies Required to Practise Your Trade in Ontario

Before you can receive government certification, you must complete training that covers the competencies listed in the Apprenticeship Training Standards – Hairstylist. This document lists in detail all of the skills and work tasks that Hairstylists must be able to demonstrate in order to be eligible to write the Certificate of Qualification examination. In Ontario, an employer who sponsors an apprenticeship signs off on each of the following competencies during an apprenticeship:

  • protect self and others
  • perform routine salon functions
  • perform sanitization procedures
  • treat scalp and hair
  • cut hair
  • style hair
  • perform a permanent wave or straighten and wave super-curly hair
  • colour hair
  • lighten and tone hair
  • work with wigs, hairpieces, and extensions (optional)
  • perform hand and facial services (optional)

As an internationally trained Hairstylist, you must be able to prove that you have these skills before you can write the Certificate of Qualification examination.

Language Requirements

When you apply for certification as a Hairstylist, you are not required to pass an English language test, but the job requires excellent language skills. As a Hairstylist, you must be able to talk comfortably with customers about their needs, give and receive instructions clearly and effectively, read and interpret instructions and warnings on product labels, and understand how to use computerized cash registers.

To become certified, you must write a technical multiple-choice examination, which requires a knowledge and understanding of the technical terms used in this trade.

Application Process

There is no automatic certification for internationally trained tradespeople in any trade in Ontario, but there is an assessment process that evaluates the training and experience of internationally trained tradespeople. The length of time that it will take you to become certified will depend on how closely your training and experience match the training standards for your trade in Ontario. It can take as little as three months if you are immediately eligible to write the certification examination, or as long as three years if you are required to get work experience or if you have to complete a full apprenticeship.

Before You Emigrate To Canada

Get information about working as a Hairstylist in Ontario. The more you know about the Canadian system, the easier it will be for you to find a job when you arrive. Apprenticeship Training Standards – Hairstylist is a useful reference for internationally trained Hairstylists who are unfamiliar with the terminology used and the skills required in Ontario. You can get a copy of this booklet from a Workplace Training Branch Apprenticeship. There is a list of these offices at the end of this fact sheet.

You will need proof of your training and experience. Collect documentation that proves your skill level as a Hairstylist. Include letters from employers, diplomas, and other documents that describe your training and the work tasks you have performed. These documents must also show where and how long you have worked as a Hairstylist. It is important to include as much information as possible about your years of experience and your duties at work because the evaluation of your skills will be based on your on-the-job experience.

When You Arrive In Ontario

The Workplace Training Branch Apprenticeship offices process all applications for trade certification in Ontario. When you arrive in Ontario, contact the Workplace Training Branch Apprenticeship office in your area and make an appointment to see a training consultant. If you haven’t already requested a copy of Apprenticeship Standards – Hairstylist, you can get one from the office.

Step 1. Meeting a Training Consultant

The training consultant will ask you for documentation that describes your past work experience and training. Take as many of these documents as possible to this first meeting:

  • your Social Insurance Number (SIN)
  • letters from current or past employers, dated and written on company letterhead, showing the company name and address, the exact dates of your employment, the number of hours that you worked, your title, and a complete description of your job duties
  • trade certificates, diplomas, or licences
  • official school transcripts from your training, if available. You should also provide a detailed list of the subjects covered in each course and the length of each course.

If these documents are in a language other than English or French, bring a translation that is signed by a notary public, or a lawyer. The training consultant will use these documents to compare your work experience to the requirements for certification as a Hairstylist in Ontario.

Step 2. Assessment of Your Previous Training and Experience

The training consultant will assess your documents and compare your training and experience to the training and experience required in Ontario

  • If your documented experience is equivalent to that required of an apprentice in Ontario, you will be eligible to write the Certificate of Qualification examination without serving an apprenticeship. You will then complete an application for the Certificate of Qualification.
  • If your documented experience is not equivalent to an apprenticeship in Ontario, you will need more training and work experience as a Hairstylist. You can find an employer who will agree to enter into an apprenticeship agreement with you, or you may decide to take a Hairstylist course that includes on-the-job training, which still involves an apprenticeship agreement.

Training and work experience

If required, you may have to serve an apprenticeship to get the skills needed to work in Ontario. This apprenticeship may be shorter than the apprenticeship required of an inexperienced worker in the trade. During the apprenticeship, you will work as you learn and complete your in-school training.

To get a position as an apprentice, you must apply directly to employers and find one to sponsor your apprenticeship. You can find employers by looking in the Yellow Pages (the telephone directory for businesses), local newspapers, or just by walking into hair salons in your neighbourhood (this is called a cold call visit). Employers are looking for a well-written résumé and your ability to sell yourself (tell them why you will be good for their beauty shop or salon). Once you have a job, employers will be looking for high quality work and reliability. You may need to demonstrate your skills as part of the interview process.

When you find a position, you must register your apprenticeship training agreement with a Workplace Training Branch Apprenticeship office. Once you have completed the apprenticeship, you will receive a Certificate of Apprenticeship.

To find a Hairstylist course at a private hairstyling school, consult the Yellow Pages under “Schools – Hairdressing”, or contact the Ontario Association of Hairstyling Schools. (See the “For More Information” section at the end of this fact sheet for more information about the association.) Some private hairstyling schools offer 450-hour upgrading courses. The cost for upgrading courses is approximately $1,500. Private hairstyling schools may place graduates of upgrading courses in jobs in salons.

Attestation of Competencies

In addition to providing documentation above, you will be asked to complete and sign an Attestation of Competencies. This document is an oath that you make, stating that you have all the competencies required for the trade. This Attestation of Competencies will be considered as proof that you are able to do the work of a Hairstylist. A false attestation is a serious criminal offence.

Step 3. Application for the Certificate of Qualification

When you have met the requirements for certification, you will complete an application for the Certificate of Qualification.

Step 4. Letter of Permission

If your application is approved, you will receive a Letter of Permission will be issued by the Ministry that allows you to work for up to ninety days until you write the Certificate of Qualification examination. You must write the examination within this time.

Step 5. Exam Preparation

The Certificate of Qualification examination is based on the skills that Hairstylists need to succeed in the workplace. The content of the exam reflects both on-the-job and in-school training.

The best way to prepare for the examination is to make sure that you can perform all the skills described in Apprenticeship Training Standards – Hairstylist. Study the competencies and be sure that you can explain the theory behind each task.

You can also study Milady’sStandard Textbook of Cosmetology (Thomson Delmar Learning, 2004 ISBN 1-56253-880-2). It is available at private hairstyling schools and at public libraries in Ontario, although they may carry older editions. The cost of this textbook is about $90.

Step 6. Certificate of Qualification Examination

You may write the Certificate of Qualification examination for Hairstylists at an Workplace Training Branch Apprenticeship office once you have either completed an apprenticeship or applied and been approved through the application process above. The examination is available year-round, by appointment. First, you have to call the Ontario College of Trades and pay the examination fees. You can then arrange a date to write the exam at a Workplace Training Branch Apprenticeship office within ninety days of your application. You must show photo identification on the day of the exam.

Description of the exam

The Certificate of Qualification examination is a written examination with multiple-choice questions. These questions test your practical knowledge of workplace procedures and tasks. You are allowed three hours to complete the examination. A copy of the examination plan is available at any Workplace Training Branch Apprenticeship office.


If you have difficulty with English you will be allowed to bring a reader with you. Readers can be anyone whose English skills are strong; they may be relatives, friends, or interpreters from your community. Readers can translate the parts of the examination that you don’t understand, but they are not allowed to help you answer the questions. The examination is highly technical; make sure that you choose someone who knows English well, but does not have knowledge of the Hairstylist trade. Readers must sign a statement that they don’t have any training or experience in the trade.

If you think you will need more time, you can begin the examination in the morning and make special arrangements to stay for a maximum of six hours. Dictionaries, pencils, erasers, and paper are available in the examination room. If you bring your own dictionary, you will be asked to submit it to the examination supervisor for inspection.

Pass mark

The pass mark for the examination is 70 per cent.

Rewriting failed examinations

Your examination results will be mailed to you. The results sheet will detail the score as a percentage for each section of the examination, so if you fail you will know which areas you still need to improve. If you fail an examination you can re-write it after fifteen days.

If you fail the examination twice, you will be required to either take a refresher course to upgrade your training or get more work experience before you can try the examination again. There is a $100 fee every time you write the examination.

Step 7. Certificate of Qualification

If you pass the examination, your Certificate of Qualification, which is valid for three years, will be provided to you by the Ontario College of Trades. You can get an official duplicate (copy) of the certificate from the Ontario College of Trades for a fee of $25. You must renew your membership with the Ontario College of Trades annually for a fee of $120.

Fees and Costs

(in Canadian dollars)
Assessment no fee
Application for the Certificate of Qualification no fee
Registration of an apprenticeship, if required $60 + HST
Certificate of Qualification examination $150 + HST
Rewriting failed examinations (re-examination) $150 + HST
Official duplicate (copy) of the Certificate of Qualification $25 + HST
Annual membership fee to the College of Trades $120 + HST

Training and Upgrading

Hairstylists in Ontario have opportunities to upgrade their skills by attending special seminars, workshops, and trade shows:

  • Some private hairstyling schools offer special courses for skills upgrading. The cost is approximately $600 per week.
  • Training and upgrading for Hairstylists and students are also available from industry suppliers. These courses showcase new products and techniques. Prices vary. You can usually obtain information on these courses through your workplace. See the Yellow Pages for a list of schools.
  • For information on trade shows for Hairstylists, contact the Allied Beauty Association. See the contacts listed at the end of this fact sheet for more information about this association.

Step 8. Licensing

Once you have obtained your Certificate of Qualification, you must contact the Ontario College of Trades to apply for membership. If accepted, you must pay your membership fees.

Labour Market Information

There is a steady demand for skilled Hairstylists. Some salons hire only experienced workers who can bring with them an established clientele. Other salons are willing to train new staff.

The hours of work can be long, with many of them spent standing serving clients, often in the evenings and on weekends. The rates of pay vary depending on the workplace, the clientele, and whether the work is full-time, part-time, or on commission. The salary range for apprentices and skilled Hairstylists is from $14,000 to $50,000 (excluding overtime, commissions, and tips).

An increasing number of Ontario Hairstylists rent chairs in salons. Some Hairstylists work out of their own homes, obtaining a permit and licence to have a home-based business. There are strict rules in Ontario regarding health and safety that Hairstylists must follow regardless of where they work.

Most salons in Ontario require Hairstylists to have their own equipment . The cost of equipment will vary depending on the quality. Basic scissors, a dryer, a curling iron, flat irons, and brushes could cost from $300 to $900 or more.

For more information on labour market conditions and wages in your region, visit Job Bank.

Related Occupations

There are many other personal care occupations related to hairstyling. Esthetics, electrolysis, cosmetology, and nail technology are services that may be offered in salons and spas.

Estheticians (manicurists and pedicurists), cosmeticians, electrologists, and nail technicians are just a few of the occupations related to hairstyling that might be of interest to someone who has experience in the beauty sector. Apprenticeship and certification are not required for these occupations. For more information, see Milady’s Standard Textbook of Cosmetology and visit Ontario Job Futures.

MTCU apprenticeship offices in Ontario

To order a copy of Apprenticeship Training Standards – Hairstylist, to get more information about certification, or to make an appointment with a training consultant, contact the office in your community.

Last updated April 2014

Location Address Phone Toll-free Fax
Barrie 55 Cedar Pointe Dr.
Unit 609
Barrie, ON L4N 5R7
705-737-1431 From
705 and 905
area codes
Belleville 135 North Front St.
Belleville, ON K8P 3B5
613-968-5558 1-800
Brantford 505 Park Rd. N., Suite 201
Brantford, ON N3R 7K8
519-756-5197   519-756-0724
Chatham 870 Richmond St. W.
1st Floor
Chatham, ON N7M 5J5
519-354-2766 1-800
ext. 519
Cornwall 132 Second St. E., Ste 202
Cornwall, ON K6H 1Y4
613-938-9702 1-877
Dryden Provincial Government Building
479 Government St.
Dryden, ON P8N 3K9
807-223-4632   807-223-6374
Elliot Lake 50 Hillside Dr North
Elliot Lake, ON P5A 1X4
705-848-4661   705-848-4660
Fort Frances 922 Scott St. 2nd Flr.
Fort Frances, ON P9A 1J4
807-274-8634   807-274-5553
Hamilton Central Ellen Fairclough Building
119 King St. W., 8th Flr.
Hamilton, ON L8P 4Y7
905-521-7764 1-800
Kapuskasing Ontario Government Complex
122 Government Rd West
Kapuskasing, ON P5N 2X8
705-337-4381   705-337-4382
Kenora 227 1/2 Second St. South
Kenora, ON P9N 1G4
807-468-2879 1-800
Kingston Cornell Corporate Centre
299 Concession St., Ste 201
Kingston, ON K7K 2B9
613-548-1151 1-866
Employment Ontario Hotline
Kingston 308 Wellington St, unit 101
Side Entrance
(at Rideau Terrace)
Kingston, ON K7K 7A8
613-545-2455 1-877
Kitchener 4275 King St. E., Ste. 200
Kitchener, ON N2P 2E9
519-653-5758 1-866
London 1200 Commissioners Rd E Unit 72
London, ON N5Z 4R3
519-675-7788 1-800
(City of)
The Emerald Centre
10 Kingsbridge Garden Cir Ste 404
Mississauga, ON
L5R 3K6
905-279-7333 1-800
North Bay 200 First Ave West
North Bay, ON P1B 3B9
705-495-8515 1-800
Ottawa Preston Square
347 Preston St., 3rd Flr.
Ottawa, ON K1S 3H8
613-731-7100 1-877
Employment and Benefits and
Support Measures
Owen Sound 1450 1st Ave. W., Suite 100
Owen Sound, ON N4K 6W2
519-376-5790 1-800
Pembroke 615 Pembroke St. East
Pembroke, ON K8A 3L7
613-735-3911 1-800
Peterborough 901 Lansdowne St. W.
Peterborough, ON K9J 1Z5
705-745-1918 1-877
(City of)
1420 Bayly St., Unit 1
Pickering, ON L1W 3R4
905-837-7721 1-800
Toll Free Fax
Sarnia Bayside Mall
150 Christina St. North
Sarnia, ON N7T 7W5
519-542-7705 1-800
Sault Ste. Marie 477 Queen St East
4th Floor
Sault Ste. Marie, ON
P6A 1Z5
705-945-6815 1-800
St. Catharines Garden City Tower
301 St. Paul St., 10th Flr.
St. Catharines, ON
L2R 7R4
905-704-2991 1-800
Sudbury 159 Cedar St., Ste. 506
Sudbury, ON P3E 6A5
705-564-3030 1-800
Thunder Bay 189 Red River Rd, Suite. 103
Thunder Bay, ON P7B 1A2
807-346-1550 1-800
Timmins Ontario Government Complex
5520 Hwy. 101 East
Wing B
South Porcupine, ON
P0H 1H0
705-235-1950 1-800
Toronto Central 625 Church St., 1st Flr.
Toronto, ON M7A 2B5
416-326-5800   416-326-5799
Windsor Central Roundhouse Centre
3155 Howard Ave., 2nd Flr, Suite 200
Windsor, ON N8X 4Y8
519-973-1441 1-800

For More Information

For information on assessement, examination and training in Ontario, contact:

  • Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities - training hotline (toll free in Ontario): 1-800-387-5656; website:
  • The MTCU apprenticeship office in your community (see the addresses and fax and telephone numbers listed above).

For information on trades certification and licensing, contact:

Ontario College of Trades
655 Bay Street, Suite 600
Toronto, ON M5G 2K4
Telephone: 647-847-3000
Toll free: 1-855-299-0028
Fax: 1-866-398-0368

For information on private hairstyling schools, contact:

Ontario Association of Hairstyling Schools
c/o Bruno's Schools of Hair Design
117 King St East
Hamilton, ON L8N 1A9
Telephone: 905-528-0428
Fax: 905-528-5202

For information on trade shows, awards, current trends, and latest beauty products, see the following trade journals and magazines:

Canadian Hairdresser Magazine
Harco Publishing
1330 Bay Street, 2nd Floor
Toronto, ON M5R 3K8
Telephone: 416-923-1111
Fax: 416-968-1031
Email: info@harcopub

Canadian Hairdresser Magazine
411 Richmond Street East, Suite 300
Toronto, ON M5A 3S5
Telephone: 416-869-3131
Fax: 416-869-3008

For information on where to get help once you arrive in Ontario, contact:

Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI)
110 Eglinton Avenue West, Suite 200
Toronto, ON M4R 1A3
Telephone: 416-322-4950
Fax: 416-322-8084
For information on settling in Ontario, visit

For information about accessing professions and trades in Ontario, contact:

Government of Ontario
Ministry of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade
Global Experience Ontario (GEO)
Telephone: 416-327-9694 or 1-866-670-4094
TTY: 416-327-9710 or 1-866-388-2262
Fax 416-327-9711

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