How to Become a Hairstylist

Considering enrolling in hair school?

If you are considering enrolling in a hair school, you are likely wondering about how much it will cost, how long it takes to complete the training, and what you're going to learn. Beauty Schools Directory has answered many of the common questions about hairstylist education to help you decide whether enrolling in a hair design college is the right decision for you. If you think training to become a hairdresser sounds like the right fit for you, just enter your zip code in the box to the right to search for schools now.

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What’s the difference between hair design school and barber school?

There are distinct differences between hairstyling and barbering. Students that attend a hairstyling school will learn how to cut, color, and style hair, as well as perform a variety of other beauty services if it’s part of . Barber schools mainly focus on cutting, coloring, and styling men's hair, but also barbering enables students to perform shaves, which is not included in standard hair school. Hairstyling school tends to go into greater depth on haircutting and styling techniques, and focuses on a wider variety of hair lengths, styles and customers.

There may also be a difference between hair schools and cosmetology schools in some states. While most wrap the hair portion of the curriculum into a more comprehensive cosmetology program, a handful of states have separate hairstylist licenses that do not include nails, makeup and skin care. Be sure to check your state's regulations and ask the schools about their curriculum before enrolling.

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What can students expect to learn at hairstyling schools?

Male Stylist Cutting Woman's HairStudents can expect to learn how to cut, color, and style both men's and women's hair. Students who attend a comprehensive cosmetology school also receive lessons in skin care, makeup, and nail care in addition to the hairstylist training. It's not just about learning to do hair, though. Hairstyling schools also provide students with lessons in sanitation, pathology, anatomy, chemistry and color theory on top of the hair lessons. Students will learn how to assess their clients' locks, consult with the client on what they hope to accomplish in their salon appointment and make honest yet tactful recommendations, and provide a range of services at the client's request. Most hairstyling schools educate their students through in-school lectures and textbooks of course, but they also provide students with hands-on training in a student salon to develop their skills in a real-life setting.

A hair school curriculum typically includes scalp an d hair analysis, product and ingredient analysis, shampooing and conditioning, hair cutting, clipping and razoring, hair color (temporary, semi-permanent and permanent), hair lightening, men’s and women’s hair sculpting and styling, bleaching, relaxing, up-dos, various curls and waves, how to properly blow dry, curl and flat iron hair, thermal styling, and sometimes wig and hair addition. The curriculum also includes safety, sanitation and sterilization of one’s work station and tools, as well as business ethics and client consultation, among other soft skills.

The length of the hairdresser training program depends on how many hours your state requires to be allowed to sit for the board exams (the national average is around 1500 hours), and whether you plan to attend the school full-time or part-time. Most students complete the full cosmetology program in 12 to 24 months.

What is the average cost of attending a hairstyling school?

The cost to attend a hairstyling school depends on several different factors. One of the most important factors is location. Hair design schools in large metropolitan areas like New York City and Los Angeles may cost more than schools in smaller metros further from the coasts or rural areas. Hair design schools can also vary in price according to the length of the program and prestige of the school. Each state has a different number of hours they require to get licensed, so higher hour requirements mean longer programs which can affect the price.

According to our survey of more than 55 cosmetology schools, the average cost of hair school in a comprehensive cosmetology program is between $10,000 and $20,000. The same hair stylist training program at schools in smaller cities may cost as little as $6,500. Smaller programs like electrolysis and laser hair removal, or nail technology, may cost even less than that. Check out our tuition and financial aid page for a more detailed look at the costs of hair school and how you can help pay for college.

One thing to consider is that each school's policy on what's included in the cost of tuition varies, so be sure to ask all the hair schools you compare whether the cost of the program includes tuition, supplies, kits or books.

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Who is eligible to attend hairdresser school?

To attend a hairstyling school, students must usually have graduated from high school or received their GED. However, some states do not have this requirement, so be sure to check with your state licensing board. Most schools and states also require you to be at least 16 years of age, so check that too when you talk to potential hair colleges. Check out our enrollment requirements page for more information about whether you are eligible to apply.

What jobs can students pursue after graduating hair design school?

Hair stylist graduates have many different career options. Most new licensees choose to work as hairdressers in salons or spas. A number of hair school graduates also decide to open and manage their own salons, or even work for themselves as freelance independent hairstylists. Some hairdressers go even further to become beauty school educators, beauty magazine editors and contributors, beauty consultants, or sales representatives for beauty product retailers further along in their careers. Some stylists who prefer the entertainment business may find themselves working on fashion shows, movie sets, behind the curtain at theaters, or for commercial photographers.

What is the average salary for a hairstylist?

The latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the average hairstylist earns $26,790 per year, however the information does not account for tips and gratuity so that number may be higher. It also doesn't account for the variance between full-time, part-time and self-employed hairstylists. According to both the NACCAS and the United States Dept. of Labor, a stylist's salary can reach up to $50,000 on average. However, it should always be noted that a stylist's salary will depend on his or her experience, location, and level of expertise, as well as how they market themselves and manage their client retention and referrals.

How should potential students choose a hairstyling school?

Prospective students should begin their search for the right hair college by researching schools in your area. After finding a possible hair design school, students should determine the price of tuition and length of the program, among other questions they should have answered by the admissions representatives. Before choosing a school, students should schedule a time to speak with a representative and tour the facility, and possibly even see the hair design students in action and speak to some of the instructors, who will have past experience in the hair business. Make sure the school feels like a great fit that you feel confident can adequately prepare you for your state’s licensing exams, and a successful career in the business.

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