How to Become a Hairdresser

Training and education is necessary, along with salon experience, to establish yourself in the hair styling and hairdressing field. Creating a career in hairstyling can seem like a lengthy process, but understanding the necessary requirements of the field can help you know what qualifications you need to have for a hairdresser program. Although you may not require a degree in hair styling, you need attend a technical school or community college to be qualified for the job. The information given below can help you know about what you need to become a professional hair stylist.

Age requirements

The minimum age requirement for a hair stylist varies in different schools.  While some hairdresser schools allow prospective stylists who are sixteen years old to take hair styling classes, others require you to be eighteen years or older to be eligible for hairstyling classes. Age requirements can also vary on the course you are applying for. Make sure you know the age requirements of your school before you enroll for hair styling classes.


To become a professional hairstylist, you need to have at least a GED or a high school diploma. All professional hairdressing schools demand the above education qualification to be eligible for licensed hair styling program. Educational requirements can also vary on states and cities, so it is better to be informed about them before you enroll yourself for a hairdresser program.

Schools can also have different set of education requirements to be eligible for a hairdresser program. The basic requirement that is common in all schools is that you need to be a citizen of the country or a legal immigrant. Schools will also require you to pass an entrance or a placement test. Application fee can depend on the standards of the school, scope and length of the course.

Training program

You need to pass several private hair dressing courses to successfully become a hairstylist. You need to clear courses such as care and use of instruments, hair highlighting, razor cuts, foil frosting, hygiene and sanitation, regulations of the health department, patron relations, recognizing different hair and skin conditions, product sales, building clientele and patron relations, and salon management.

You also need to complete an apprenticeship program from a licensed hairdresser or get on-job training in hair dressing before attending an exam to get hair dressing license. Some schools will also require you to pass a practical exam where you need to show your different hair cutting and styling skills.

How to jump start your career

We do not have any strict requirements in order for you to follow our course, either online or on DVDs, although a high school diploma would be a big plus. One must be able to read, in order to study about chemical services, prior to practicing on dolls and eventually on live clientele. A thorough theoretical understanding of chemical services is a must if you wish to learn about coloring, perming, chemical straightening, and especially if you are thinking of specializing as a color technician.

Once you go through our course with lots of practice on mannequins (dolls), inform all friends and family members that you are ready to perform hairdressing tasks for a minimal fee or even for free. Practice your trade for a least a couple of years, before applying for a job to a hairdressing salon. In the mean time you will have to work a second job to support yourself. Nobody said the path to success is easy, but if you have the will power and you are really passionate about this trade, you will have to go through this 'training+job' period.

Should I work at home or in a salon after completing a hairdressing training program

We recommend for you to work at home for a couple of years, prior to getting your first job in a hairdressing salon. Working at home entails having a registered company (Montreal, Quebec).

If you wish to skip our advice and you wish to start working in a salon right from the start, it's most likely that you will be shampooing for the first couple of weeks, months or sometimes years, depending on the discretion of the salon owner.  Along with the shampooing, you will most likely be in charge of cleaning up.

The salon owner needs to protect his/her salons' reputation, which he/she took so long to build. So you will have to prove yourself as to what you can do with you hands, before your boss will trust you with one of his/her clients or even with a new client. Your best bet is to bring all your family and friends in the salon so that your boss will be able to evaluate your work or another words you must prove yourself to your boss with your clientele.

If the salons' environment is not to your benefit, and there is not much that you are learning, you might as well try another salon. Don't waste your precious time.  Remember, your objective is to learn, learn, learn.

Advantages to working in a salon

  • One advantage in working in a salon, is that you will develop friendships with co-workers and share your knowledge with each other, that will help you grow.
  • Another advantage is that you develop connections, that may open up new doors for you. You also develop excellent communication skills practicing on clients.
  • You boss can see your work and evaluate you accordingly. A good evaluation of your work, will result in your boss giving you walk-in clients.
  • If you are lucky, in a high-end salon, working as a shampoo girl/boy, the tips may be quite good, giving you a decent salary.

Disadvantages to working in a salon

  • The salon owner will not trust you to work on his/her clientele unless you prove yourself with your own clientele (family and friends).

Advantages to working at home.

  • Being your own boss.
  • Flexible work schedule.

Disadvantages to working at home

  • When you work at home, you must actively search to find new clientele, whereas in a salon the new clients come into the established salon. Once you establish your clientele, word of mouth is what makes your clientele grow, depending on how good you work is.

 What should I expect as a pay

When you begin your career as a hairdresser, you have a few options;

  1. You can rent a chair for a fixed weekly or monthly fee.
  2. You can be paid a salary (fixed pay per week)
  3. You can be paid commission (per hairdressing task accomplished)

In the beginning, as a new hairdresser you don't have any clientele. In a small or large salon, you will not be paid by salary, unless there are a lot of walk-ins. If there are not any walk-ins, don't expect to get hired as a hairdresser, but maybe as an assistant (depending on the size of the salon and the number of walk-ins per day). Nobody will pay you commission or offer you chair rental without having any clientele. Why not? The owner will not be willing to give something for free (learn by watching the owner working on his/her clientele), without getting something in return (revenue from your clientele). Anyway, as a new hairdresser, you will not be able to afford the chair rental without any clientele. The chair rental varies from area to area within a city.

Of course, your commission will be quite low in the beginning, say 25% (with a $10 haircut, $2.5 is your commission). If you can complete 2 cuts per hour, your pay is $5/hour (not even minimum wage). On the other hand, if you work in a high-end salon, eg; $100/haircut, your commission will be $50 per hour (at 25% commission), if you can complete two cuts in an hour. But, no high-end salon will hire you in the first place without any clientele and no experience.

Some salon owners go as far as to stipulate a fixed revenue per week in order to get hired. For example, a hairdresser must make a minimum revenue per week of $1000 or more with his/hers clientele in order to get hired.

Once you develop a clientele, and you know your clientele will follow you, you have the power to demand to the salon owner a specified commission, say 60% or maybe more (depending how large your clientele is). If you have a very large clientele, it might be more worth it for you to rent a chair.

If you have clientele that you developed in a low-end salon (eg; $10/haircut), you cannot go to a high-end salon ($100/haircut) because your clients will most likely not accept the higher prices. This is the same as being with no clientele.  The other way around, as a hairdresser you must accept a huge pay cut, if for some reason you must move all your clients from a high-end salon to a low-end salon. On the contrary, all your clients will be extremely happy.

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