Hairstylist Careers

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In 2012, the beauty industry hit $382 billion thanks in big part to a consumer base of primarily women. Despite the economy affecting the amount of personal care services that people are willing to pay for, most people will continue to visit a hair salon even if they find themselves skimping on other services, making hair styling a potentially stable occupation.  Hairstylists spend their working careers knowing that their clients depend on their work and dedication to the beauty industry to keep them looking beautiful, which can be a rewarding feeling.

“I think the most important thing a woman can have-next to talent, of course- is her hairdresser.”- Joan Crawford

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Advance Your Career as a Hairstylist

Hairstylists who are serious about advancing their career become part of national associations such as the Professional Beauty Association and the Hair Artist Association.  In addition to these professional networking and continuing education opportunities, hairstylists can showcase their talent at a number of hair styling competitions such as the North American Hairstyling Awards.  Hairstylists also may team up with designers during international and national fashion shows, including New York Fashion Week and Milan Fashion Week, as a way to get their name in the mainstream fashion industry.

Become a Hairstylist

Hair stylists work in clean and comfortable salons with a steady flow of customers coming and going throughout the day. A typical day is spent with close to constant communication with clients, making it a friendly and extremely active environment.

Hair stylist complete a high level of training because they offer a broad range of hair services, including55915177_August6 shampooing, cutting, styling and coloring.

Part of the reason why hairstylists are so valuable is that they stay current on the latest hair styles and trends while also mastering old favorites. Clients can come to hair stylists to completely transform their look, helping to boost self-esteem.

Hairstylists also have the option of flexible work hours because many are not employed full-time.

What are beneficial skills for a hair stylist?

It is essential that hair stylists enjoy working with people and that they are friendly, personable and knowledgeable. Hair stylists must also enjoy learning new techniques and trends.   Other important traits include detail-oriented, good sense of timing with the use of chemicals that must be applied for a certain period, ability to listen clients to give clients them what they want and creativity to suggest additional or extreme looks.

Are there other hairdressing opportunities?

While it is true that most cosmetologists work for or own a salon, there are many other businesses which require their services such as day spas, resorts, nursing homes or other residential facilities, department stores and even cruise lines. Other career options for cosmetologists include teaching in a school of cosmetology, or becoming an image consultant or sales representative.

In addition, many stylists also have an easy time obtaining training as barbers. Barbers generally earn more than hairstylists. Learn more about barbering careers.

What is required for hair design and styling certification?

Hair trends come and go, but one thing is for certain and that is the demand for talented hair stylists and designers does not. Cosmetology continues to be a much sought after field.

To begin a career in the field of cosmetology, hairstylists must complete a state-licensed program, with many available options for completing this requirement. Classes in cosmetology are often taught in high school vocational courses, community colleges as well as cosmetology schools.  Hair stylists must be at least 16 years old, must have completed a state-licensed program and must also have graduated from high school.

For moving hair stylists, it is sometimes required for the stylist to obtain a license for multiple states. However, there are some states that have reciprocity agreements to where hair stylists who have a license in one state are allowed to practice in another state.

Find a cosmetology program near you!

According to the BLS’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, future growth is projected at 14 percent between now and 2020. This is promising due to the many specialty services offered by cosmetologists.

Even with the demand for their services, cosmetologists find themselves in a highly competitive field.  Those new to this career will be vying against seasoned hairdressers for the jobs in the more upscale salons. Naturally, those who earn extra certifications in the field of cosmetology will be more desirable candidates for these positions.

Learn more about additional certifications to advance your career by becoming a nail technicia or an esthetician.

Salary Expectations

For those interested in the world of fashion and beauty, a career in cosmetology offers a stable income, the ability to own one’s own business and the opportunity to earn a higher than average salary.

Hair stylists earned, on average in 2012, an hourly wage of $12.88 according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.  mean annual wage for cosmetologists, hair stylists and hairdressers was $26,790 as of May, 2012, with those working in personal care stores making the highest wages.  New York and the District of Columbia hair stylists are among the highest paid.

Like other cosmetology professions, salary is dependent on the commission based on the cost of the service provided, commission earned by selling salon retail, clientele (typically takes one to three years to build a solid base) and gratuity in addition to hourly wages.


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