I had a discussion with my colleagues about studying and learning.

I thought that you can say studying to be a hairdresser and not learning to be one. Or can you? Is it the same?

The problem is the word study and my colleagues think that involves only the studying to be a doctor, for example. That you don't really "study" to be a hairdresser.


  • 3
    You do if you're going to a cosmetology school.
    – Laurel
    Apr 12, 2018 at 19:36
  • 1
    This is a grey area. 'Study to be a ...' is usually reserved for the more academic professions like teacher, surgeon, physicist, astronomer.... It's a judgement call as to whether 'hairdresser' is in this domain. There are quite a few examples on the internet, and courses of study are certainly run. Apr 12, 2018 at 19:37
  • I think a clear line could be if there was a book or written material involved... perhaps even video material if the videos were broken into segments covering theory, types of dyes and how to mix them etc. To the extent the person was receiving practical lessons in use of tools, "training" would be more appropriate. A doctor ~studying medicine~ could also ~train to be a surgeon~ . "Studying hairdressing" is a bit much. as it is the practice not the knowledge, but as @Laurel points out, "cosmetology" entails more specific knowledge.
    – Tom22
    Apr 12, 2018 at 19:51
  • learning [a language] versus studying to be a [professional something. An engineering student might study plumbing but a plumber had better damn well learn it to be a plumber. Even if you study to be a doctor, you also have to learn to be one. I shall have to think about this learn/study a bit more.
    – Lambie
    Apr 12, 2018 at 19:54
  • 1
    @Tom22 I getcha. No worries. But I'm thinking that maybe I can some up with a semantic trait that will divide them such that "learning to be a doctor" and "studying to be a doctor" become clearer. See what I mean? I'm very into that as a mental exercise, and, often, one can come up with some interesting tidbits....
    – Lambie
    Apr 12, 2018 at 20:13

1 Answer 1


Studying to be a hairdresser is perfectly fine. You will find some community misconceptions though that there will be no academic aspect as well as plenty of academic snobbery.

Studying as a term works perfectly well in a trade when engaging in a theoretical exercise (e.g. researching current styles trends, techniques and market analysis for tools) or one of observation (e.g. watching an experienced hair dresser at work).

Learn and train can be used too. You'll find the latter more commonly used when reffering to a trade.

  • I wrote a very long post which I deleted. Your answer hits the points more concisely. The dictionary definition of "study" includes the word "academic" - however, how generously we apply that word is one of "perspective" (or snobbery) . When your friends are Doctors, Lawyers or professors, or if you read 'white papers' and rue the amateur knowledge of reporters even at the NYT or WSJ, it is easy to discount even upper division undergraduate courses at an elite university of a being a bit short of "academic", but to a housekeeper, learning of dyes and hair follicles qualifies.
    – Tom22
    Apr 12, 2018 at 22:02

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