How to Become a Hair Stylist

Alan Cohen
You are creative and enjoy working with your hands. You often experiment with your own hairstyles and are continuously asked to help friends with their hair. If this describes your life, perhaps you should strongly consider becoming a professional hair stylist.

Cost of Cosmetology School

The average cost of the standard cosmetology school can cost anywhere from $5000 to $20,000. Prospective students should also consider the cost of books, school supplies, and daily living expenses.

The Educational Process

The first step in becoming a hair stylist is to obtain a high school diploma or a GED. This is a basic educational requirement needed to gain acceptance into most cosmetology schools.

Once accepted into a program, you can expect to study for 9 to 12 months. The course of study for hair stylists includes such areas as hair color application, shampooing, basic hair care, and styling techniques.

Most states have licensing standards for hair stylists. These requirements vary from state to state. While some states only require a single licensing examination to begin work as a stylist, other states have different requirements. They may request that all hair stylists complete a re-certification process and/or continuing education classes.

Many stylists voluntarily opt to take additional training courses to stay current on the latest hair design technology and to learn about the trends in the industry. 

Skills Needed to Succeed as a Hair Stylist

While the ability to creatively style hair is the most important skill needed to succeed in this profession, other abilities are also needed to maximize your earning potential as a stylist.

A stylist must have good listening and communication skills. They need to listen to their clients and be able to communicate concerns and recommendations back to them. The ability to communicate effectively helps to build a good rapport with clients and increases the chances of clients returning to the specific stylist.  

Satisfied clients are more likely to make referrals to a good stylist. This helps to build a stylist's following and in turn, increase their income. 

A stylist also needs to have sales skills to succeed in their chosen profession. They may need to hair care products and services to clients.  This is especially true if the stylist works in a salon.

A successful hairstylist must gain the trust of their clients. After all, the client is placing one of their most visible features in the hands of the stylist. The hair technician must work hard to make their client's styling session as pleasant as possible.

Average Salaries for Hair Stylists

Figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show a median income for hair stylist as $24,260 for 2016. The salary range goes from a low point of $19,550 per year to a high of $34,170 annually. Many stylists work part-time at a salon or do freelance work. Salaries also vary by the region of the country.

The BLS projects a 10% growth rate in the hair styling segment of the cosmetology industry for the upcoming decade.

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