How to Become a Hair Stylist

When you hear of hair styling, a valid profession probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. In reality, becoming a hair stylist can be a lucrative and highly rewarding career. As a hair stylist you will not only get to work in a field you enjoy but you will help others to feel confident about their appearance. You will help them with haircuts that flatter their personal style and bone structure, and color that complements their skin tone and unique sense of fashion. You’ll be able to work one on one with your customers to give them not only the look they want but also one that accentuates their best qualities.

Hair Styling Schools Near You!

Hair Styling Schools

What exactly is a Hair Stylist?

If you’re truly interested in pursuing a career as a hair stylist it can be helpful to know exactly what the job entails. Working as a hair stylist you will be working as a cosmetologist that has specialized in the particular area of hair. You will work on shampoo/conditioning, coloring, and cutting. You will also provide helpful advice and recommendations to your customers that may need a bit of assistance. You will look at their unique hair type and facial structure to help them find what is right for them. In some cases you may even clean and style wigs or other hairpieces for your clients.

Educational Requirements

To even consider schooling you will first need to have either your high school diploma or a completed GED. Most will already have this so it shouldn’t be much of a problem. If you have already graduated and hold a diploma you will be able to further research where you would like to complete your schooling to become a hair stylist.

The first thing you will need to decide is if you want to pursue a certificate or a full associate’s degree. If you don’t want to have to attend a full two years of school you should select a cosmetology certificate program. This is the quickest way to begin your new career. Regardless of which method you choose you will be taught valuable lessons in hairstyling along with additional useful skills such as nail and skin care.

When you begin looking at programs you should investigate their overall tuition fees as these can vary greatly. Some of the schools may seem more expensive but once you look at the breakdown of their fees you may find that they include the supplies you will need. Schools that charge less may not include these items which can add up when you have to buy them yourself. You will also want to do a bit of research into the school’s reputation so that you know you will be attending a school that is viewed in a positive light by places you may want to work once you graduate.

All of the schools you consider should offer main classes in hair color, hair styling, various chemical services, and hair cutting. If they do not offer all of these then they are probably not the best option for you. In addition to these classes you can expect courses in anatomy, sanitation, and some business courses. Anatomy will teach you about the different types and general nature of human hair. Sanitation will help you to keep your and your customers healthy, and the business courses can be wonderful in teaching you about managing your various clients and work schedule.

Regardless of which path you take you will need to become licensed for the state you wish to work in. Make sure you do a bit of research as the requirements for licensure will vary by state. Some will require more, some will require less so it is important that you know what is necessary. You can receive your license by completing your cosmetology program and then taking the exam. Once you have passed the exam you will be given your license. The test will include both a written and a skill portion but these should be easy since you just learned everything necessary from your schooling. In the written exam portion you can expect to be tested on your knowledge of the particular laws and regulations that apply to hair stylists, the hair styling techniques, and necessary sanitation practices. The skill test will be to evaluate your ability to perform the hair stylist job properly. There is usually a fee to take the test so you want to ensure that you are prepared to pass the very first time so that you do not waste money.

If you go the route of becoming a cosmetologist you can expect your schooling to take between 9 months and a year. Some schools will allow you to take night classes if this fits into your schedule better but it may take slightly longer to graduate.

Keep in mind that even once you have finished your schooling and have acquired your license you will still need to stay up to date and current on the newest and best styles. Trends change rapidly and you want to stay at the forefront as much as possible. In this way you will always be learning in this career but this can keep it fresh and exciting for you as a hair stylist.

How do I know if I would be a good hair stylist?

There are a few general traits that can be helpful when looking into becoming a hair stylist. The first is that you should already possess an interest in the profession. If you’re not even interested in the career then you know you’re on the wrong path. In addition to a genuine interest you should also be a good listening, and have a certain amount of sales skills. This may seem unnecessary but depending on where you work you may be expected to try and sale you clients some of the products you use. It can also be helpful to be highly adaptable so that when you clients cancel at the last minute or change their needs you’ll be able to roll with it instead of becoming upset. If you are considering opening your own salon or other place of business it will be necessary to know at least a little bit about business and marketing or your chances of failure are high.

Salary and Job Outlook

The good news is that there are quite a few businesses you could end up employed at. The most common and popular are the entertainment industry including television and film, salons, spas, teaching at cosmetology schools, or even working as a freelance stylist.

The growth outlook is fairly positive showing an expected 13% increase from 2012 to 2022. It is thought that this increase is due to the growing popularity of advanced hair treatments. As a hair stylist without any advanced training you can expect to make around $27,000 a year. Keep in mind that how much you make will vary a bit depending on where you are working. Larger cities will usually pay more but you will also have an increased cost of living so it is a bit of a tradeoff. However, larger cities, depending on where you live can also grant you greater exposure if you are hoping to start working in the entertainment industry. Depending on your desires you will want to consider carefully where you live and work.

Advancement Opportunities

Career advancement is a great option for this profession. There are multiple options for you to pursue. You can look into other professional certification that you can add to your resume such as advanced hair color and/or hair extension. No matter what you train in anything you can add to your skill set will help to make you more valuable and in demand.

Other advancements include moving up through the business you work for. You will most likely begin in an entry level position but can move up into management and in some cases ownership if you choose to eventually open your own business. If you’re really gung ho you can even become a representative for particular beauty products and services.

What if I’m still uncertain?

If you still feel unsure if hair styling is the right career for you then you may want to consider a couple of the options that are in the same arena. Some of the most popular include:

Skincare specialist – As a skincare specialist you would need to go through the esthetician or cosmetology program to gain your state license just as you would with hair styling. The actual skincare specialist profession would have you evaluating client’s skin, working with them on treatments to help common ailments, removal of unwanted facial hair, and other techniques such as makeup and skincare products.

Manicurist/Pedicurist – This may seem far away from hair styling but you would still be working in the same environment with many of the same clients. For this profession you would also complete the cosmetology or nail tech program to achieve your state license. The difference would be some of the core classes you take. Here you would focus less on hair and more on nails.

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