Inside Hairdresser Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

Biggest Surprises

"I Was Surprised That Doing Hair Is Not As Easy As 1 Might Think...
Most beauty school students do not really know that different ways that they can make a difference for their clients. There are many ways to make money as a Cosmetologist, such as working on call at rest homes, doing weddings and working for professional photographers. Students considering a career in this field, those who really love it, may actually find that they would consider doing this job for FREE. Yes I said it free. It is fun, exciting and you meet many many new people." (Cosmetologist; 2014)

Career: 4 years of experience, currently based in California, female
School: Studied Cosmetology at Marinello Schools Of Beauty in California; completed Certificate degree in 2010

"More Than Just Pampering...
People are often surprised at how short the schooling is- six months full time. They are also surprised at the amount of knowledge we must learn within that short time frame. We had to learn about the skin, bones, nerves, organs, health conditions, and skin disorders/diseases pertaining to the body as well as our technical skills." (Licensed Esthetician; 2013)

Career: 9 years of experience, currently based in Illinois, female
School: Studied Esthetics at University Of Aesthetics in Illinois; completed Certificate degree in 2005

"My Skills Will Always Be Needed No Matter What...
How fast I went up the ladder in this profession, I currently own my own salon and have other hairdressers working for me now. It is a great profession and it will always be needed, even in the bad economy people always need a haircut or style so you will always be in business." (Hairdresser; 2014)

Career: 30 years of experience, currently based in Maine, female
School: Studied Cosmetologist at Melrose Beauty Academy in Massachusetts; completed Certificate degree in 1984

"The Choices You Have Of Paths To Take...
I was surprised at the lifelong friendships formed. A client told me I was her most successful relationship with a man. A client took me to Cyprus on vacation with her it was amazing I was surprised at the opportunities available to me, managing a chain of salon, and working in film" (Hair Stylist; 2014)

Career: 22 years of experience, currently based in Michigan, male
School: Studied Cosmetology at State College Of Beauty in Michigan; completed Certificate degree in 1989

"Chemicals That Kill...
People would be surprised at the vast amount of different people you come into everyday. Also, surprised to learn that all the chemicals will crystallize my lungs." (Cosmetologist; 2014)

Career: 23 years of experience, currently based in Illinois, female
School: Studied Cosmetology at Hair Professionals Academy in Illinois; completed Certificate degree in 1990

"Unexpected Reasons Clients Hire Estheticians...
I have been surprised how many people use the services of skincare professionals for relaxation more than actual skincare issues. I have also been very surprised how difficult it is to build a strong clientele. I have loyal customers who continue to book appointments, many of whom also seek advanced services that I recommend. However, many people do not understand the importance of starting a professional skincare commitment before the signs of aging actually start showing. I also find the hours required of esthetician students in school quite excessive. The cosmetology schools definitely have a lucrative situation where they are allowed to really take advantage of people. I could have learned all of the classroom work in half the amount of time that is required and then spent more time working out in the field as an intern. I think it would produce better quality estheticians." (Esthetician; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Maine, female
School: Studied Aesthetician at Capilos Institute in Maine; completed Certificate degree in 2010

"Rewarding Career Doing What I Love...
When I first decided to change career paths, my friends were very surprised that I chose a career in Cosmetology. I always loved doing hair, and it was very nice to leave an office job for something that I had a passion doing. Once I completed all of my hours, and passed the exam, I was very surprised on how fast I found a job. I currently make a good amount of money, have flexibility with my hours, and love what I do." (Cosmetologist; 2014)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in Pennsylvania, female
School: Studied Cosmetology at Empire Beauty Academy in Pennsylvania; completed Certificate degree in 2010

"Physically Taxing...
What most surprised me about my career in cosmetology was how physically taxing it can be. Being on your feet performing an intricate task will ware your back, feet, arms, etc. out faster than you'd expect." (Hair Stylist; 2014)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Florida, female
School: Studied Cosmetology at Aveda Institute in Florida; completed Diploma degree in 2011

"Better Opportunity In Bigger Cities...
Some surprising things I have discovered about being a stylist is the difference in income depending on your location and whether you open your own business. The average income for hairdressers can vary dramatically according to state and the size of your city where you choose to work. I have found that smaller sized towns and cities offer less financial and creative opportunities. It is also difficult to make a significant income without opening your own business." (Cosmetologist/Stylist; 2014)

Career: 9 years of experience, currently based in Alabama, female
School: Studied Cosmetology at Southern Union State Community College in Alabama; completed Associate degree in 2006

"Need To Be Social...
I was surprised at how socially active one must be in order to get ahead in the cosmetology field. It may be obvious that one must posses people skills, but a person really doesn't know until they actually start working with clients. Communication skills must be up to par if one is looking to get ahead in this field." (Hairdresser; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Georgia, female
School: Studied Cosmetologist at Paul Mitchell Beauty School in Georgia; completed Diploma degree in 2010

"I was surprised to find that being a hair stylist required a lot of hands on skills than just cutting and basic hair tools. As a hair stylist I need to build up my customers by my services and need to know how to properly color cut blow dry and style." (Cosmetologist Hair Stylist; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Florida, female
School: Studied Cosmetology at Sunstate Academy in Florida; completed Certificate degree in 2012

"I was surprised when I realized how far cosmetology services goes beyond the clients who comes to the salon. There are those clients who we take the salon to such as those who are homebound, in shelters, and institutions just to name a few. Cosmetology services are just as important for them also." (Cosmetologist; 2013)

Career: 27 years of experience, currently based in Pennsylvania, female
School: Studied Cosmetology at Berean Institute in Pennsylvania; completed Diploma degree in 1986

"Most people who go into this career never stay with it or work in this field for a long time. Burnout happens really quickly." (Hairdresser; 2012)

Career: 25 years of experience, currently based in Connecticut, female
School: Studied Hair And Nails at Connecticut Instuite Of Cosmotology in Connecticut; completed Certificate degree in 1992

Best & Worst Things About This Career

Salon Manager: "The best part of the job is working with the customers and helping them get what they want. This can also be the worst part. People are not always friendly and kind, but we must treat them with kindness always. There is a fine line between being taken advantage of by a client and meeting the clients needs. When the line is established with clients it makes working a lot easier. Working with lots of people and meeting/ seeing different kinds of people everyday is really rewarding. You get to know people on a professional personal level and there is a real joy in seeing them happy with what they have received from us at the salon." (2011)

Hair Stylist: "The best part of my job would be making people feel good about themselves and watching them leave with a smile on their face. I also love that I can make my own hours and that flexibility allows me to be there for my kids when they need me. Some of the downfalls of the job would be the long hours. Long hours on your feet can cause health issues over the years. Others health issues can occur depending on the person." (2011)

Hair Colorist/ Stylist: "The best part is making people look good. When they feel good it makes me feel good. The worst part of the job is you can't always please everyone. Sometimes they have other things going on in their lives and nothing you do pleases them. You have to work long hours to build up a clientele but the rewards are great. You can make a very good living but it takes time to build up your client base. You get paid on commission. The more you do the more you make." (2011)

Cosmetologist: "The best part of my career is getting to meet so many wonderful and interesting people. I love the way I feel when I know that I have helped them with a problem, whether it's their hair or something else. For some people, it is free therapy. The worst part of my career is the hours one has to work in the beginning. When you are trying to build up business, you really have to work any and all hours just to be able to make ends meet. It is very easy to get burned out. It seems like it is not worth the effort." (2011)

Hair Stylist: "I enjoy formulating color, especially for color corrections, and I look forward to advanced education classes. I like to talk to my clients and get to know them and I pride myself in being their hairdresser. I enjoy building trust with my clients and learn so much from them. I do not like doing the everyday chores. Although it makes me feel more organized, it adds more time to my schedule and can sometimes put me behind with my next client. I also fear that I may give someone a haircut or color that they do not like." (2011)

Cosmetologist: "The worst part of my job are the hours. There are some days that I will work from 9am to 9pm, sometimes without so much as a lunch break. Sometimes clients will want something that I know will not be good for the hair, and I have to explain to them, but they really don't understand. The best part of my job, are my clients. We get to know one another on a personable relationship. They look to me for honest advice, not always in the hair field, but they also use me to vent, confide, advice, as we are known to be trusted friends to them. I also am my own boss, and that is wonderful. I work when I want and how long." (2011)

Career Background


  Job Tasks
  Work Environment
  How to Prepare for the Job
  Job Outlook

Career Video

Career Tips

"Bigger Cities Mean Bigger Paychecks For Entrepreneurial Stylists...
For students wanting to become hairdressers/stylists, I would recommend finding work in mid to large sized cities if you want more money, opportunity for advancement and creative freedom. There are more clients to support entrepreneurship and average client income is higher." (Cosmetologist/Stylist; 2014)

"Work Hard And Stay Focused...
If you want to be successful you need to start at the bottom and learn everything there is about the hairdressing business, its always good to refresh yourself with new hair styles that come out each decade so doing refresher courses are a great way to accomplish that. Keeping up with the times." (Hairdresser; 2014)

"Building Clientele With A Smile...
Follow your heart when it comes to choosing your career. If you are doing something that you love, going to work will feel more like a fun hobby. Make sure you always smile, and listen to your clients. In my personal experience, this is the easiest way to build your clientele." (Cosmetologist; 2014)

"You Are Worth Far More Then You Think, Veterans Are Gold...
If you want to be a successful hairdresser, do your best always, never give "discounts" for your services as you are worth every bit of the fee you are asking. Be open to listening to veteran hairdressers. They have a wealth of knowledge that could help you along in your career." (Cosmetologist; 2014)

"Build Clientele Through Rapport...
To be a successful hair stylist, you must work hard to build your clientele. This requires not only a high skill level, but patience to deal with a wide range of personalities, as well as the ability to chat and be friendly even in dull situations." (Hair Stylist; 2014)

"Great Money For Your Skills...
If you are people oriented and good at what you do the amount of money you make is endless. I am surprised at how fast my 23 years of service have gone. No matter the decline in the economy, people will always get their hair done." (Cosmetologist; 2014)

"So You Want To Be A Hair Dresser...
Learn and never stop learning. This industry is a perfect example of evolution! If you don't constantly evolve you die. Know your tools and product they are what is constant and know how to use them in this process of evolution Think about what you are best at, working behind the chair, managing people, extreme creativity, teaching and or any strength. And focus on finding a way to market that. Do what you love and the money comes. Most salons are some form of commission, so you decide ( by what you invest) how successful you will be! Pick a number, any number you can make that much money, if..." (Hair Stylist; 2014)

"Excellent Customer Service Is Primary Focus...
I would absolutely start your business with going above and beyond with your services. The field is quite competitive and you need to build a loyal customer base. For example, I always work 5-10 minutes beyond what they expect. I never cut their sessions short. I always make a point of remembering important information they share with me. Above all, I NEVER gossip. I consider that many people open up and share private information with me and I hold that in the highest confidence." (Esthetician; 2013)

"You Are Your Best Advertisement...
If you want to be a successful esthetician, have confidence in the way you speak and carry yourself. People are trusting you with their skin and physical appearance and want to know that they are in the hands of someone both knowledgeable as well as caring." (Licensed Esthetician; 2013)

"Have A Thick Skin...
I would advise people to not take things personally and to be confident in decisions and answers that you give. People say things and do things that are hurtful yes, but it doesn't mean that it is personally directed at you. When you start taking things personally it will directly affect your job performance negatively. Be confident in the sense that, when others see that you are confident in what you are saying to them they are more likely to not only take you seriously but to value your opinion." (Salon Manager; 2011)

"Questions You Should Ask Yourself...
To anyone who may be interested in this career I would say think about the kind of person you are. Example: do you like people? are you highly critical? are you a motivated person? are you creative? I say this because I have seen people who are good with their own hair and even other people's hair but they are not patient or their personality just doesn't click with a variety of people. It is critical that a stylist has the ability to work with very difficult people and very easy people. You have to have a thick skin and not let criticism sway your mood or your reaction to any client for any reason." (Hair Stylist; 2011)

"Stay Aware Of Style Trends...
You have to be available and willing to work. If you are not there, people are not choosey they will go to the next available stylist. Classes about the latest techniques and the newest styles are very important. Clients are always asking what's new for spring/winter, etc. You also have to run on time or at least in a timely manner. You will lose clients if they have to wait. Their time is just as important as ours." (Hair Colorist/ Stylist; 2011)

"Stick With It...
1) If you love it, then don't give up. It will pay off. It is hard and you will want to at times, but stick with it. 2) Take as many continuing education classes as possible. They seem expensive sometimes, but the knowledge and training is invaluable. Also, the opportunities you have can help you advance on a broader level. 3) If you are not organized, learn to get organized. This will help with time and money. Don't waste time trying to find things." (Cosmetologist; 2011)

"Take It Slowly And Build Your Confidence...
Education is fun and interesting and never gets old. The hair styling industry is always changing, so there will always be work. Starting out wherever you can is best instead of waiting to get into an upper end salon. It's scary venturing out on your own after graduation from school, so take it slow and build on the foundation you learned in school. Soon everything gets easier and you get quicker at services you were once very slow at." (Hair Stylist; 2011)

"Three Tips For Cosmetologists To Be...
Some advice for you if you are interested in cosmetology. 1. You have to have patience, clients need to know that you are going to take your time with them, don't rush them, and treat them with kindness. 2. You have to have some knowledge of how to handle hair. If you plan on becoming a hair stylist, you should at least know how to style ones hair. The rest will come with the schooling. You have to like working on someone's head, or it isn't for you. 3. Schooling, learn all the different steps to being a great cosmetologist, keep going back to learn new techniques. This will definitely help your career." (Cosmetologist; 2011)