Professional hairstylists offer a variety of hair-related services, keep records of products used or treatments performed on clients, and provide consultations to male or female customers on caring for their hair at home. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that the demand for advanced hair treatments, including straightening and coloring, has increased over the past few years and predicts the trend will continue. Stylists with updated knowledge and thorough experience are likely to excel.
Some personal goals may be more like daily reminders. Celebrity hairstylist Diana Schmidtke told "Teen Vogue" that, before breaking into a career in the beauty industry, you have to make commitment into a goal. She explained that you have to commit to never giving up on your dream or long-term vision. Additionally, make it a daily priority to work on toughening up. Accepting rejection or criticism is common for stylists. Not only is it tough to meet all of the demands each client makes, but people often switch stylists due to convenience or a change in pace.
In hairstyling, what’s hot and what’s not changes quickly. Succeeding in hairstyling requires keeping up with the craft, owning your skills and knowing the industry. Enroll in a hair design school that focuses solely on hair cutting, coloring and styling, rather than a cosmetology program. If you’ve already done that, make taking an advanced class or freshening up your skills your goal. Regularly practice scalp treatments, waves and curls, braiding and styling with a variety of hair types.
The key to advancing is gaining experience. Start off with friends and family before taking a job in a salon. Move on to a position in a hotel or on a resort, where you’ll constantly meet new clients and network. From there, try working as an independent contractor or become a mobile stylist in one area or around the world. If you prefer to be stationary, consider moving to a city that has a high demand for hair services, such as New York City, Chicago or Minneapolis.
Determine where you want to be in 10 or 15 years, and make that your ultimate goal. Maybe you prefer to be self-employed, creating your schedule and picking your clients. Many stylists aim to work in entertainment or fashion, such as styling models for photo shoots and runway shows. Others aspire to be platform artists, traveling around the world to perform, entertain, educate, and sell products or services at high-profile industry events and beauty shows.
About the Author
Based in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, Megan Torrance left her position as the general manager for five Subway restaurants to focus on her passion for writing. Torrance specializes in creating content for career-oriented, motivated individuals and small business owners. Her work has been published on such sites as Chron, GlobalPost and eHow.
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If you want to work as a hair stylist in the United States, you will have to attend a cosmetology program that has been approved by the state in which you want to work. Many states also stipulate that anyone working in this field have a high school or equivalency diploma.
Some high schools offer programs in cosmetology to their students. If yours does not, or if you already have a high school or equivalency diploma, you can attend a program at a vocational school. These programs usually last at least nine months, but some may be almost two years long. Many grant an associate degree upon completion. Some programs offer classes in languages in addition to English.
To find a program, you can do a search on the American Association of Cosmetology Schools' (AACS) website. Look for one that offers a specialty in hair. According to this non-profit organization that represents cosmetology, skin, nail, barbering, and massage schools, tuition costs between $6,500 and $10,000, depending on whether the program is located in a rural or metropolitan area. Tuition in rural areas is lower than it is in metropolitan ones. You will also need to pay for your tools.
Before enrolling in a program, it is essential that you find out whether it is approved by the state in which you want to work. If you attend a program that is not state-approved, you will not be able to get a license and, subsequently, will be unable to work as a hair stylist. If you have any question's about a program's credentials, contact your state's licensing board. Find a list of them on the AACS website.
While specific coursework may differ depending on the program you choose, certain classes are typically part of every school's curriculum. Here are some courses you should expect to take:
- Sanitation and sterilization
- Hair cutting and shaping
- Hair analysis
- Hair and scalp disorders and diseases
- Hair extensions
- Color methods
- Permanent waving
- Salon management
A hair stylist's professional development doesn't end with the initial training he or she receives. To keep up with current trends, you will have to continue to take courses throughout your career.