What does it take to be a top hair stylist? Do you have the chops to break into the world of beauty?
The Bravo show Tabatha Takes Over features Tabatha Coffey, the queen of salon fix-ups and the darling of the salon set. She says she’s, “talented, tough and taking over.” But what does it really take to break into this personal service career and how far can you go?
Some of today’s most successful workers provide personal services. For example, people will always need haircuts and are more likely to be looking to match a particular modern style. Amenities that involve skincare and massage have also been on the increase. Makeup application, wig styling, hair removal and nail services also come under the umbrella of personal care services and are typically done in a salon environment.
This is a great industry with stability and better than average pay if you want to succeed; in fact, according to the government’s Occupational Handbook, nearly half of the barbers, hairstylists and cosmetologists are self-employed, providing flexibility of location and the chance to create your own clientele base almost anywhere.
What do they do?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists typically do the following:
- Inspect hair, face, and scalp, to recommend treatment
- Discuss hairstyle options
- Wash, color, and condition hair
- Cut or trim, dry, and style hair
- Receive payments from clients
- Clean and sanitize all tools and work areas
All states require barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists to be licensed. To qualify for a license, candidates need to graduate from a state-approved hair/cosmetology program. Remember that these skills can take you to spas, hotels and resorts, nursing homes and, of course, salons everywhere.
Characteristics needed for the job
Customer service propensity. In order to have repeat customers and retain clients, a pleasant personality and someone who is able to provide hands-on customer service is needed.
Good physical health. Hairdressers, barbers and cosmetologists need the ability to stand for long periods of time.
Listening and following trends. The best in this industry are in tune with what their clients want and able to stay abreast of creative, new styles and incorporate them into their routine.
Time management skills. Scheduling appointments and juggling services require time management skills. For example, a routine trim may take very little time, while applying color, highlight, or special curling or straightening techniques may be very time-intensive. Clients who are serviced in a quick yet professional manner are more likely to return.
Clean, maintained work stations. Not just for appearance sake, but health and safety is key when working with heated tools and harsh chemicals. A clean and sanitary work area and a well-kempt appearance on behalf of the stylist should go along with that.
How to Begin:
Do your research. Talk to local stylists, read profiles on the Internet and think about a specialty such as: nail care, barbering, cosmetology, skin care (aka esthetics), hair design, or laser certification, etc.
The best programs are from private post-secondary vocational schools. And you’ll note: the one thing that Tabatha stresses and always returns to in each segment of the show, is a need for education and continued education, such as with beauty schools in California .
Schools that meet accreditation, which are national standards of excellence in education such as with the National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences (NACCAS) are important.