Salon Stylist: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Salon stylists require little formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and licensure requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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Essential Information

Degree Level Complete state-approved beauty or cosmetology program; associate degree and certificates available
License/Certification State licensure required
Experience Hands-on training provided as part of the program
Key Skills Patience; communication and customer service skills; physical stamina; ability to work with a variety of hair and skin types; knowledge of hair products and tools
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 10% increase*
Median Annual Salary (2015) $23,660 (for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists)*

*Source: BLS

Salon stylists primarily perform hair cutting and styling, though they may perform other beauty services for clients. All states require licensure for stylists, and most require graduation from a formal training program at a state-approved beauty or cosmetology school. Certificate and associate's degree programs in cosmetology are another option for aspiring stylists.

Job Description for a Salon Stylist

Salon stylists provide a variety of hair care and beauty services. Found primarily in a barbershop, beauty parlor, or full-service salon, stylists may be employed for specialized treatments, regular appointments, or special occasions, such as weddings or graduations. To remain competitive, stylists may expand their repertoire to include other salon services. Salon stylists typically rely on repeat business and regular customers.

Duties of a Salon Stylist

Salon stylists perform a broad range of beauty services, from cutting hair to performing scalp treatments. Typical duties include shampooing, cutting, and styling hair, though they may also provide hair treatments, including deep conditioning, permanents, hair coloring, and weaving. Due to the number of services offered at most salons, stylists must be skilled at using a wide range of beauty products and tools.

Salon stylists must also be able to work with a variety of hair lengths, types, and textures. Skilled stylists are able to recognize problems of the hair or scalp and recommend appropriate treatments. Other amenities a stylist may provide include:

  • Manicures
  • Pedicures
  • Waxing
  • Massage
  • Facials
  • Makeup application

Requirements for a Salon Stylist

Salon stylists and hair care technicians must acquire state licensure. Qualifications vary from state to state, though most require graduation from high school and a state-approved cosmetology program. Stylists interested in offering other salon services may need to obtain additional licensure. Continuing education courses are necessary in some states to maintain a valid license.

Most schools offer a completion or achievement certificate to graduates of each type of specialty, such as hair styling, nail care, or makeup artistry. Students may also opt to earn an associate's degree from a community or vocational college. Degree programs include general education courses in addition to professional cosmetology program. Certificate and degree programs generally provide hands-on training in lab settings, and some schools offer public services for first- and second-year students.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists is expected to increase by about 10% between 2014 and 2024. Although the high rate of turnover in this career will ensure job opportunities, competition will make it tougher to secure positions at higher-paying salons.

The BLS published the median annual salary earned by hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists as $23,660 in May, 2015. Those working for performing arts companies; professional, scientific and technical services; and the offices of other health practitioners earned the highest salaries as of 2015, from more than $33,000 to $40,000 and above, on average.

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