Hair Stylist Training Programs and Requirements
Hair stylists are trained in the art of hair design by experienced instructors in cosmetology schools, community colleges and vocational schools. Following graduation, future hair stylists are required to become licensed by the state to begin their styling career.
Training Requirements and Recommendations
For a career as a hair stylist, enrollment in a cosmetology program is required to learn the trade. Most programs typically require a placement test and application fee. Most cosmetology schools accept applicants who are high school graduates and at least 16 years old. Hair stylists must then seek licensure; prerequisites vary by state but, in addition to completing a training program, applicants must generally meet a minimum age requirement and be U.S. citizens or legal aliens.
Future hair stylists need to complete a training program at a state-approved school to earn a license to practice. A certificate or diploma program can usually be completed within 9-18 months. Associate's degrees in cosmetology are also an option, and programs generally last two years.
Certificate or Diploma in Cosmetology
Aspiring hair stylists in cosmetology certificate or diploma programs can expect to learn basic hair styling, shampooing and cutting techniques, as well as chemical treatment application methods for bleaching, perming and coloring. Most students take additional hair courses in specialty areas such as braiding, razor cuts, highlighting and weaves. Nail care, skin care and makeup application may also be covered. Students demonstrate beauty skills on mannequins provided by the schools and, sometimes, on other students. Some cosmetology training programs require an apprenticeship with a licensed, established hair stylist for hands-on experience.
Associate's Degree in Cosmetology
As with a diploma or certificate program, students receive hands-on training in specific hair styling and beauty treatments, but associate's candidates also study human anatomy, facial structure, chemistry, skin disorders, sterilization, sanitation, salon management, business law and customer service. In addition, students learn to perform manicures, pedicures, scalp treatments, facials and electrolysis. Graduates with an associate's degree in cosmetology typically have more job opportunities since they are trained in several different areas.
Upon securing a position at a beauty salon, new hair stylists typically begin by assisting with administrative tasks, like answering phones, scheduling appointments and ordering supplies. Salon owners also expect graduates to be able to use a variety of styling tools and perform basic activities, like shampooing, blow-drying and curling hair. Once basic hair styling skills have been proven, new stylists are usually allowed to perform advanced tasks, like perming and coloring hair, as they begin to establish their own client base. With an associate's degree in cosmetology, graduates have a range of job opportunities available to them as makeup artists, estheticians, manicurists, pedicurists or hair stylists.
Licenses and Certifications
An oral, written and practical examination is required to become a state-licensed hair stylist. States vary on the number of program and apprenticeship hours required, minimum age and education obtained. Licensure typically mandates that candidates have completed sanitation, health regulations and salon management classes as part of the cosmetology program.
Workshops and Seminars
To keep current with hair trends, licensed hair stylists often attend workshops, conferences and seminars to learn more about the industry and interact with peers. Thousands of national and international beauty shows are hosted annually and allow hair stylists to learn new tricks and techniques, as well as network. Beauty shows can last from 2-4 days, with the main objective being to educate new and established beauty professionals.
Additional Professional Development
After becoming licensed as a hair stylist and gaining some experience, a beauty professional may seek a career as a consultant or sales representative for a beauty company. Other professionals may pursue ownership of their own salon or become a barber, which requires enrollment in a barber program and the passing of a state licensing exam. Most barbers specialize in cutting men's hair, razor shaving and trimming beards; generally, barbers do not perform advanced hair styling techniques, such as coloring, adding hair extensions or perming, as a hairdresser would.
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