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How Do You Become a Stylist?

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You may have considered becoming a hair stylist for awhile now. Hairdressers help to make their clients feel confident and beautiful. They get to use their creativity and talent each day to create new looks and transformations through hair cutting, styling, coloring and texturizing treatments. It can be a very fun and rewarding job, especially if you like to talk to people and possess an artistic vision. There are a number of requirements to entering the beauty industry. Here’s an overview of what it takes to become a stylist.

Necessary Skills and Aptitudes
You will learn the needed technical skills, but you should possess manual dexterity, an appreciate and understanding of style trends and some artistic or creative flair. Great interpersonal skills are also necessary. You will be interacting with people one to one, on a daily basis. You will need to communicate clearly with your clients in order to gain an understanding of the end result they desire. In addition, people often love to talk to their hairdresser. You’ll need to be a good listener and approachable.

Required Training
In order to work as a hairstylist, you’ll need to attend and complete a cosmetology program that has been approved by your state. Each state has different licensing and training requirements. If you’re still in high school, you may be able to enroll in a high school vocational program in order to earn your stylist credentials prior to graduation. For those beyond high school age, there are post secondary public and private vocational or trade schools with accredited cosmetology programs. These programs usually take at least nine months to complete. Some may even allow students to earn an associate’s degree upon graduating.

You’ll want to check with the licensing board in the state where you want to practice in order to be sure your potential school’s program is accredited and approved. You can expect a comprehensive cosmetology program to consist of course such as hair shaping, texturing, color methods, permanent waving, sanitation and salon management. As a beauty professional, you can expect to be constantly learning in order to keep up with new trends and to learn innovative techniques.

Licensure
Each state’s requirement for becoming a licensed stylist is different. However, upon completing an approved program, you will likely need to take and pass a written exam. Many states also have a hands-on practical exam requirement, as well, in order to demonstrate your skill knowledge. Most states require you to be at least 16 to become licensed, and some even say you must have a high school diploma or equivalent. While each state has its own licensing criteria, there is a concept known as “reciprocity” in which one state will accept approved credentials from another state.

Getting Hired
Once you’ve passed your licensing exam, it’s time to begin the job search. It’s possible to work in a salon prior to completing beauty school and getting licensed, but it will likely be in a position such as shampooer or receptionist. These jobs don’t require professional level training or licensing, and it’s a good way to gain exposure to the field, to make sure cosmetology is a good fit for you and to add credentials to your resume.

There are a number of options for getting your first job as a stylist. It’s possible to open your own salon immediately upon completing a cosmetology program and obtaining your license, but it may be a better plan to gain some practical experience first in order to increase your odds of running a successful business. Many first-time stylists will rent space in a booth or large salon to begin their practice. With this option, the stylist is responsible for their own taxes and for providing their own equipment. Others will look for traditional employment in which they are a salon employee, rather than an independent or freelance worker. You will need to weigh the pros and cons of each scenario in order to determine which choice is right for your personality and lifestyle.

If you are seeking employment under the management of others, you will be judged on certain criteria. Salon employers look for stylists with friendly and outgoing personalities. They want someone who can interact easily with all different types of clientele and who will work well on their own, as well as with the salon staff. Prospective employers will also consider your experience and will want to see a demonstration of your technical skills.

There are a number of things to consider if you want to become a stylist. It can be a very fun, rewarding and lucrative career that allows you to interact with people and express your creativity daily. It also requires a great deal of skill, energy and dedication to learning.

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