Become a Wigmaker: Education and Career Roadmap

Aug 10, 2018

Learn how to become a wigmaker. Research the training requirements, career specializations and licensure information you will need to start a career in this sub-field of cosmetology.

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  • 0:01 Should I Become a Wigmaker?
  • 1:04 Step 1: Choose a Wig Type
  • 1:34 Step 2: Get…
  • 2:06 Step 3: Take Wig…
  • 2:46 Step 4: Pick a Specialization
  • 3:14 Step 5: Meet Licensing…

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Should I Become a Wigmaker?

Degree Level None; classes in cosmetology, hairdressing, and wig making available
Degree Field Cosmetology, fine arts in wigmaking, theater
Key Skills Understanding of fabrics and fibers; hairdressing skills; creativity; manual dexterity; ability to measure and cut fabrics and fibers
Salary (2014) $28,770 (2015 median for all wigmakers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Wig making is a specialty skill within the broader cosmetology field. Wigmakers may design and create wigs, beards and toupees for cancer patients, for theater or for general cosmetics. Some wigmakers create custom wigs, especially for cancer patients. Others may design wigs for mass production. Wigmakers are usually responsible for choosing base materials and hair fibers, measuring size and achieving particular hairstyles. There's a unique skill set for this career, including a strong understanding of fabrics and fibers, hairdressing skills, creativity, manual dexterity, and the ability to measure and cut fabrics and fibers. While the salary statistics specifically for wigmakers are not available, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the annual average salary for wigmakers was $28,770 as of May 2015. Are you interested in becoming a wigmaker? Let's explore the steps you might take to become one.

Step 1: Choose a Wig Type

The first step to becoming a wigmaker is choosing what types of wigs you want to create. Most wigmakers work for either theatrical or cosmetic industries. Theatrical wigmakers may make wigs for actors and actresses performing in plays, films or television. Cosmetic wigmakers make hairpieces for private individuals, hair salons, hair loss treatment centers or other distributors. The type of industry in which you want to work may help determine what education and experience you pursue along the career path.

Step 2: Get Hairdresser Training

Once you know the types of wigs you want to make, you can get hairdresser training. Wigmakers generally must have hairdresser skills and training. Individuals can learn these skills by earning vocational certificates or associate degrees in cosmetology. Such programs generally include coursework in hair styling techniques, coloring and tinting, contemporary styles, hair treatments, and hair styling tools. Completing a cosmetology program is not necessarily required to become a wigmaker, but the coursework provides a strong foundation for the career field.

Step 3: Take Wig Making Courses

With hair dresser training under your belt, you may take wig making courses, which are often offered by college drama or theater departments. These courses instruct students in designing wig and hairpiece patterns, choosing hair colors, selecting hair textures, layering individual hairs and styling completed wigs. Students also receive training with wig maintenance, including cleaning techniques, storage protocols and wig attachment methods. Some institutions offer such wig making programs as part of a certificate program related to wig design, whereas other colleges offer undergraduate and graduate degree programs with wig making concentrations.

Step 4: Pick a Specialization

The next step is selecting your specialty. Besides choosing a specific wig industry, many wigmakers specialize in particular styles. For example, some theatrical wigmakers specialize in period wigs, such as wigs that replicate hairstyles from the Renaissance. Others specialize by making wigs for only men, women or children. Professionals need to know all the details related to their specialty, which may involve conducting independent research or taking additional classes.

Step 5: Meet Licensing Requirements

Lastly, you must obtain any state mandated licensure. Some states identify wigmakers as cosmetologists, which are licensed hair and makeup experts. Licensing requirements for wigmakers and cosmetologists vary greatly by state, so you should consult your state's licensing board for specific requirements. However, licensing requirements generally include completion of a state-recognized cosmetology program and passage of state exams. Some states use written exams whereas other states may include practical skills as part of the exams.

Wigmakers generally select a wig type before completing hairdresser training and wig making courses, followed by selecting a specialization and obtaining state licensure.

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