How to Become a Hairstylist in 4 Steps
July 18, 2022 • 3 min read
Do you have a passion for hairdressing, but you’re not sure how to achieve your goals? Having an occupation in the hairdressing industry can be as simple as you want it to be.
It doesn’t have to take years of training or knowledge to become a hairstylist. Keep reading to find out more about becoming a hairstylist in just four manageable steps.
The question of “how to become a hairstylist” begins with education. You must be 16 or older, obtain your GED or high school diploma, and pass a background check (in certain states) before you can enroll in a hairdressing school.
You should plan to live in the same state as the school you’re attending because license requirements vary by state. Once you finish your schooling and earn your hairdressing license, your license is most likely only valid for practices in that state.
Hair stylist school can take anywhere between 12 and 24 months to complete. Depending on the program, some schooling can be completed in about 6 months.
Before picking a school or program to enroll in, make sure you do your research and are sure that the program’s outcomes align with your career goals. A hairstylist student typically has to spend between 1,500 and 2,000 hours on their training and courses. A full-time student is likely to finish their education before a part-time student.
The cost of attending a hair design school, according to the American Association of Cosmetology Schools, is anywhere between $10,000 and $20,000. These costs usually cover the tuition, hair kits, textbooks, and other supplies needed. Just like most schools, if you cannot afford the price of all that, you may be able to offset some of those costs through financial aid.
When you’re earning a hairstylist license, you’re required to complete around 1,500 training hours. These hours are with an experienced hairstylist. They’ll give you the hands-on experience you need to become a confident hairdresser.
This training allows you to ask questions and try new things with the supervision of an experienced hairstylist. You’ll be able to practice your skills in a comfortable environment, where it’s okay to make mistakes. It’s the place to learn from your mistakes, so you can avoid them in the future.
In order to become a professional hairstylist, you must first pass an examination administered by your state's licensing board.
Each state has its own standards, but the most common exams include:
- A written exam focused on textbook terminology and information you learned through your schooling.
- A hands-on practical exam where you show off your skills. You’ll be graded and scored by the professionals observing you.
It’s important to remember that before you can even register to take these exams, you must complete all of your schooling and training hours. You’ll also pay a registration fee for the exams before you can take them.
Each state is different and has its own requirements for obtaining a license, so double-check your state's licensing requirements before signing up for an exam.
Some hairstylists take their own path to success by becoming an entrepreneur and opening up their own hair salon. If you have the capital and expertise to start up your own business and the help and commitment to keep it open and running smoothly then this sounds like the route for you.
However, if you’re looking for your first professional hairstylist gig at an established salon, then make sure to have your license and these qualities on your hair stylist resume when applying for a job:
- Friendly and motivated
- Able to work independently and as part of a team
- Experienced with the latest salon techniques
- Excellent cleanliness and sanitation skills
- Able to build and maintain strong customer relationships
- Experienced with color
Adding these descriptors to your resume will not only boost your skills on your resume, but it will also impress future employers during the hiring process.
Keep in mind: Your employer will likely want to learn about background examples for the attributes you listed. To prepare for your interview, have examples ready that are related to the skills you put on your resume.
Going through all the hairstylist schooling, hands-on training, and examinations can be time-consuming—and that’s not even including building a great resume.
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