Salon Stylist: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Salon stylists primarily perform hair cutting and styling, though may provide other services to clientele. All states require licensure for stylists, and most require graduation from a formal training program. Certificate and associate's degree programs are standard options for most salon stylists.

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Job Description for a Salon Stylist

Salon stylists provide a variety of hair care and beauty services. Found primarily in a barber shop, beauty parlor, or full-service salon, stylists may be employed for specialized treatments, regular appointments, or special occasions, such as weddings or graduations. To remain competitive, stylists may expand their repertoire to include other salon services. Salon stylists typically rely on repeat business and regular customers.

Duties of a Salon Stylist

Salon stylists perform a broad range of beauty services, from cutting hair to performing scalp treatments. Typical duties include shampooing, cutting, and styling hair, though they may also provide hair treatments, including deep conditioning, permanents, hair coloring, and weaving. Due to the number of services offered at most salons, stylists must be skilled at using a wide range of beauty products and tools.

Salon stylists must be able to work with a variety of hair lengths, types, and textures. Skilled stylists are able to recognize problems of the hair or scalp and recommend appropriate treatments. Other amenities a stylist may provide include:

  • Manicures
  • Pedicures
  • Waxing
  • Massage
  • Facials
  • Makeup application

Requirements for a Salon Stylist

Salon stylists and hair care technicians must acquire state licensure. Qualifications vary from state to state, though most require graduation from high school and a state-approved cosmetology program. Stylists interested in offering other salon services may need to obtain additional licensure. Continuing education courses are necessary in some states to maintain a valid license.

Most schools offer a completion or achievement certificate to graduates of each type of specialty, such as hair styling, nail care, or makeup artistry. Students may also opt to earn an associate's degree from a community or vocational college. Degree programs include general education courses in addition to the professional cosmetology program. Certificate and degree programs generally provide hands-on training in lab settings, and some schools offer public services for first- and second-year students.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), the employment of hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists is expected to increase by about 16% between 2010 and 2020. Although the high rate of turnover in this career will ensure job opportunities, competition will be tougher to secure positions at higher-paying salons. The BLS published the median annual salary earned by hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists as $22,700 in May 2012. Those working in television, film, and for performing arts companies earned the most money, with the averages in these fields reported as more than $56,000.

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List of the Top Hair Stylist Schools and Colleges in the U.S.

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  • School locations:
    • Puerto Rico (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at D'Mart Institute include:
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
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        • Hair Design
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    • Wisconsin (1 campus)
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      • Undergraduate: Associate
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      • Cosmetology and Related Services
        • Hair Design
      • Culinary Arts and Culinary Services
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    • California (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
      • Cultural Studies
      • Ethnic and Gender Studies
      • Liberal Arts, Humanities, and General Studies
      • Philosophy
      • Political Science
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      • Religious Studies
      • Social Science and Studies
      • Social Studies and History
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    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Harvard University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
      • Bioinformatics
      • Cellular Biology and Anatomical Sciences
      • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
      • General Biology
      • Genetics
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    • Pennsylvania (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
      • Bioinformatics
      • Cellular Biology and Anatomical Sciences
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    • Rhode Island (1 campus)
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      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
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      • Bioinformatics
      • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
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    • North Carolina (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Duke University include:
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      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
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    • Indiana (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Notre Dame include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
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    • Columbia (D.C.) (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Georgetown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
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      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
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    • Tennessee (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Vanderbilt University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics