5 Steps to Becoming a Professional Hair Stylist
Research what it takes to become a professional hair stylist. Learn about education and licensure requirements, key job responsibilities, employment outlook and average wages to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Nail Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
Career Information at a Glance
Hair stylists use their knowledge to cut, color and style hair for male and female clients of all ages. The following chart gives you an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.
|Training Required||Cosmetology or barber program|
|Licensure Requirements||All states require hair stylists to be licensed|
|Key Responsibilities||Knowledge of current hair styles, creativity, physical stamina and time management|
|Job Growth (2012-22)||13% (faster than average)*|
|Average Salary (2014)||$27,940*|
Source: *United States Bureau of Labor Statistics
Step 1: Complete a Training Program
Training programs for hair stylists are available at community colleges, beauty schools and cosmetology schools. Programs generally last between nine months and two years. A 2-year program offered through a community college may culminate in an associate degree. Courses are offered in hair coloring, cutting, shampooing, styling and applying permanent waves. Some programs include courses in skin care, manicuring, cosmetology and salon management. You should ensure that the program you choose is approved by the state for licensing purposes.
Step 2: Obtain a License
All states require professional hair stylists to obtain a license; requirements vary by state. However, most require the completion of an approved cosmetology program and licensing exam. You should contact your local state licensing board to apply for a license.
Step 3: Find a Job
Most hair stylists are employed in salons. Other job opportunities include spas, resorts and nursing care facilities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), almost half of all hair stylists are self-employed. Many rent a station or chair at established salons. The BLS projects that jobs for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists will increase by 13% from 2012 to 2022. This group of workers earned a average wage of $13.43 an hour in May 2014.
Step 4: Seek Professional Certifications
Hair stylists can seek professional certification in specialty areas, such as hair color and hair extensions, to demonstrate their knowledge and ability in the area. Certifications can come from manufacturers of hair products or professional organizations.
Step 5: Career Advancement in Professional Hair Styling
Professional hair stylists start in entry-level positions and advance by increasing their clientele list and taking on more responsibility within a salon. Some advance to become salon managers. Business-savvy stylists might open their own salons. Others teach cosmetology or become sales representatives for beauty-related products.
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