Hairstyling is a very promising and a very competitive career to be in, but in order to be one (and be successful at it) you got to learn how to become a hair stylist first. This will equip you to become one of the bests in this field and make a name for yourself.
Do you know the old saying that the hair is every woman’s crowning glory? Well, it may be old, but the thought of it continues to live on to this day.
In fact, a lot of women today place more trust in their respective hairstylist than anyone else. Well, that is not surprising because women care so much about how they look — their hair included. It’s as if people will always judge them by how they look.
The hairstyling industry continues to grow, and statistics prove it. As of December 2018, IBIS World reported that the hair salons in the United States generated about $44 billion in revenue. In addition, from 2012 to 2017, the industry had an annual average growth rate of 1.8%. Currently, there are about a million active hair salons in the US, which is good as they provide employment opportunities for about 1.4 million people.
Still, according to IBIS World, they are projecting that by 2020, hair salons in the US will reach $47 billion in revenue, with a 1.4% growth.
You seem these numbers only means that the industry is growing and that there are a lot of people relying on this industry – both the hairstylists themselves and their customers.
Now, if you are interested to be in the hairstyling industry, you really have to work hard, and learn how to become a hairstylist, and hone your skills in order to be competent, and eventually be on top of the game.
With that said, we are going to share with you some key information that every aspiring hairstylist must know. In particular, we are going to talk about the following:
- What is a hair stylist?
- What are the requirements to be a hair stylist?
- How much does a hair stylist make?
- How to become a hair stylist?
WHAT IS A HAIR STYLIST?
A hairstylist or also known as a hairdresser is someone who is tasked to cut or style hair in order to change or maintain a person’s image. Hairstyling is achieved by using a combination of haircutting, hair texturing techniques, as well as hair coloring.
In the United States, all states require licensure for stylists. Apart from that most also require earning a formal training program at a state-approved beauty or cosmetology school.
Hairstylists are found mainly in a beauty parlor, full-service salon, as well as a barbershop. Some hairstylists, especially the prominent choose to work as freelancers specifically providing services to celebrities or well-known personalities.
Stylists may be employed for regular appointments, special occasions like weddings, or specialized treatments.
To remain competitive in the hairstyling industry, hairstylists may opt to expand their repertoire to include other salon services.
Before we get going, we thought you might like checking this video out by Sam Vay, a YouTuber, and professional hairstylist, as she shares about her job (how she makes money and the pros and cons):
WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS TO BE A HAIR STYLIST?
Some people thought that learning how to cut hair is enough to be a hairstylist. Well, that’s not the reality at least in the US.
In the United States, hairstylists are usually required to have a high school diploma or GED to be able to apply for cosmetology school, and usually graduate in nine months to a year, and eventually earning an associate degree in cosmetology.
Most states in the US require hairstylists to be licensed, which means, if you do not get a license, no matter how good you are in hair styling, you won’t be able to practice your expertise.
Now, in some states, a license is a one-time exam or application only. In other states, however, they require continuing education credits or periodic re-certification.
Hairstylists usually take courses like hair coloring, hair care, shampooing, hair design, and styling.
Since hair styling changes over the years, hairstylists normally continue learning throughout their careers to stay up-to-date especially with hair styling trends and technology.
Furthermore, apart from education requirements and licensing, there are also skills required in order to become a hairstylist. If you want to know how to become a hair stylist, you better take note of these.
Some skills required (apart from being creative and really good in hairstyling) to pass as a hairstylist are:
- Excellent listening skills (particularly to the needs of the client)
- Excellent communication skills
- Customer service
- Time management skills
- Sales skills (selling salon products and services)
- Ability to adapt to changing situations
- Business skills
- Marketing skills
The last two skills are essential especially if you want to open up your own barbershop or salon in the future.
HOW MUCH DOES A HAIR STYLIST MAKE?
Part of knowing how to become a hair stylist is learning how much you make if you pursue or make a career out of it.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2018, full-time hairstylists, hairdressers, as well as cosmetologists earn a median wage of $24,730 annually.
However, it is also worth to note that there are a lot of hair stylists that are self-employed, or are working part-time, which means wages can vary widely.
HOW TO BECOME A HAIR STYLIST?
You already know what a hairstylist is all about, what it requires to be one, and an idea on how much one earns. Now, it’s to know the process on how to become a successful hair stylist. More, so how long does it take to become a hair stylist. Yes, the timeline is key so you get to foresee how much time you need to be able to start reaching for your dreams.
Without further ado, here are our five steps on how to become a hair stylist:
STEP 1: Complete a Hair Styling Program
If you are really serious about becoming a hairstylist, and eventually make it big in this industry, you have to invest. And by investment, we mean, you have to study.
As we have mentioned earlier, if you want to work as a hairstylist in the United States, you have to attend and finish a cosmetology program. Make sure, however, that the program is by a state-approved institution.
In most states, they also require that hairstylists must earn at least a high school diploma or equivalency diploma.
There are high schools that offer cosmetology programs to their students. Again, just make sure it is accredited or approved by the state so your efforts won’t go to waste.
For you to have an idea, cosmetology programs usually last within nine months to one year. There are, however, some programs that last for up to two years. A lot of these institutions grant an associate degree in cosmetology upon completion of the program.
To be sure that the school or institution you are eyeing for is legit or approved by the state, you may check the American Association of Cosmetology Schools or AACS website. AACS is a not-for-profit organization that represents skin, nail, cosmetology, massage, and barbering schools.
According to AACS, tuition fee of cosmetology courses vary between $6,500 and $10,000. So, yeah, if you really want to pursue a career in hairstyling, you have to ensure you have money to spend on such courses. Note that the program fee depends on the location — whether the school is in a rural or metropolitan area. If you want a cheaper program, you may opt to take the course in rural areas instead. Please take note also that your hair styling tools are not yet included in the costing.
Apart from wasting money and time, enrolling in a not state-approved school or institution will also not allow you to get a license. In the US, as aforementioned, hairstylists are required to have a license.
When it comes to the coursework, it differs depending on the kind or type of program you choose. However, there are some courses that are typically part of every school’s curriculum, which include:
- Color methods
- Haircutting and shaping
- Hair analysis
- Hair and scalp disorders and diseases
- Hair extensions
- Permanent Waving
- Salon management
- Sanitation and sterilization
It is also worth sharing that a hair stylist’s professional development does not start and end with the initial training or the program you take. As the trends changes and innovations occur in the hairstyling industry, as a hairstylist, you need to keep up and ensure you are updated on the latest trends and innovations. In fact, some states require that for re-licensing purposes.
STEP 2: Acquire a License
All states in the US require a professional hair styling license if you want to practice the profession. Obviously, without one, you cannot do the job.
To be able to acquire a license though, you must complete or finish an approved cosmetology program.
To know more about the process of licensing for hair stylist, it is best to get in touch with your local state licensing board.
Licensing requirements vary slightly from one state to another. That is why it is best to ask yours before submitting an application for licensing.
However, some of the common requirements are:
- Must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent
- Must be at least 16 years old
- Must hold a certificate or degree from a state-approved cosmetology program
In addition, applicants need to pass a two-part licensing examination. The exam normally consists of a written portion, which covers health and safety practices, and then the other part is a practical exam wherein applicants will be asked to demonstrate their knowledge in proper sanitation, and of course, hairdressing techniques.
In some cases, an oral exam may also be required depending on the state.
STEP 3: Look for a Job
So, you already have a license. It is but right that the next step is to find a job.
Most hairstylists are employees in salons. However, there are other places where one can find job opportunities — this includes spas, resorts, nursing care facilities, as well as hotels.
Apart from working in any of those establishments, you may also consider putting up your own business, or work part-time or as a freelancer.
In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most or almost half of hairstylists in the U.S. are self-employed. Most of them rent out a station or a chair at established salons.
We mentioned earlier that the hairdressing or hairstyling industry is very promising. This is backed by data from BLS projecting that jobs for hairstylists, cosmetologists, as well as hairdressers are expected to increase by 8% from 2018 until 2028.
With this data in mind, it only shows that there really is a room for you if you are aiming to be one. The industry continues to grow year after year, and with such projection, it means the growth will continue at least within ten years.
For your reference, apart from the requirements, we mentioned earlier, some of the common specifications found in different job announcements include the following:
- Ability to work independently and as part of a team
- Ability to build and maintain strong customer relationships
- Experienced with color
- Experienced with latest salon techniques
- Excellent cleanliness and sanitation skills
- Must be friendly and motivated
Now, if you think you have these qualifications, then, go ahead and apply for a hairstyling job, and start your journey towards a successful career in hair styling.
STEP 4: Obtain Professional Certifications and Continued Education
If you really want to take hairstyling seriously, and you want to be competitive, we recommend seeking professional certifications.
As a hairstylist, you can seek such certifications in different specialty areas like hair coloring, as well as hair extensions. Having a specialty or growing your list of specialties will definitely keep your game up and you getting ahead of everyone else.
Wondering where to get such professional certifications? Well, it may be acquired from manufacturers of hair products or in professional organizations.
Meanwhile, when it comes to continued education, there are several options available to licensed hairdressers. Continuing education is also one of the keys to be able to maintain their licenses.
Of course, continued education will also help keep you up to date with the latest industry trends and techniques that are developed along with advances in technology.
A hairdresser or hairstylist who continues to update her skills becomes more competitive and gets more chances of landing a job in a popular and prestigious salon. Needless to say, earn more.
We suggest joining a professional organization like the Professional Beauty Association or PBA. This can be very helpful especially as a resource for accessing continuing education options. Apart from the continuing education selections, PBA also offers hairdressers networking opportunities, competitions in hairdressing, professional development resources, as well as access to government advocates.
Some of the schools or institutions that offer certificate courses and continuing education courses in cosmetology are as follows:
- Southern Careers Institute
- Vista College
- Waukesha County Technical College
- United Beauty College
- South Texas Barber College Inc
- Seymour Beauty Academy
- Milwaukee Area Technical College
STEP 5: Obtain Career Advancement
Like in any other job, a professional stylist usually starts in an entry-level position. Now, if you want to advance in your hairstyling career and be ahead of everyone else, and also if you aim to increase your clientele, then you must be ready to take more responsibilities in the establishment you are working for. From an entry-level hairstylist, you can eventually become a salon manager.
Now, if you want to be your own boss, you may consider opening your own salon or barbershop. In some cases, professional hairstylists enters into the world of teaching. They teach cosmetology in their chosen institution. While others prefer becoming a sales representative for beauty-related products.
You see, a professional hairstylist have different options career-wise. How successful you will get will depend on the choices that you will make in your hairstyling career.
FINAL THOUGHT ON HOW TO BECOME A HAIR STYLIST
Hairstyling is no ordinary kind of job. It’s not something you can just jump into because you know how to handle hair scissors and cut hair. To be able to become a hairstylist you have to follow certain requirements especially acquiring a license.
Having a license is key to be able to practice the profession. No matter how great you are in styling hair if you do not have a license, you won’t be allowed to practice. More so, you won’t be able to succeed and be considered as a professional hairstylist.
Now, does this thrills you? We really hope so! Who knows, you might be the next big name in the hairstyling industry!
Remember, being a professional hairstylist, you have two options. Either you work in establishments like day spas and salons, or you build your own hairstyling business (and build your own name in the industry).
However, in order to do either way, it is a must to learn how to become a hair stylist first. It’s key to a successful hairstyling career.