5 Steps to Becoming a Professional Hair Stylist
Hair stylists are professionally trained and licensed in the art of cutting, coloring and finishing hair for all types of clients. Most have a flair for fashion and appearances and some amount of creativity, but still require training to learn cutting and styling techniques. Those interested in a professional hair stylist career can complete a training program in less than a year, or they may choose to complete a more extensive degree program in the field. Schools offering Culinary Arts degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
Step 1: Research Professional Hair Stylist Career Duties and Education
In addition to cutting and trimming hair, a stylist analyzes the customer's features and recommends hair styles and beauty treatments. Some innovative stylists create new styles and techniques. They are trained in beauty treatments such as bleaching, dyeing and highlighting hair. Hair stylists also have knowledge about hair care products and may be required to sell products. Training for all of these responsibilities is possible at cosmetology schools and community colleges.
Step 2: Complete a Professional Hair Stylist Training Program
After locating a community college, beauty school or cosmetology school, students must also choose the level of training that best fits their needs. 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 permanents. Some programs include courses in skin care, manicuring, cosmetology and salon management. Students are advised to check that the program is approved by the state for licensing purposes.
Step 3: 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 successful completion of a licensing exam. Stylists must contact their local state licensing board to apply.
Step 4: 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 (www.bls.org). Many rent a station or chair at established salons. Job prospects should remain strong: the BLS predicts employment of stylists to increase by 12% during the 2006 to 2016 period.
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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