I have been a hairstylist for almost three years. One thing I love about this career path is that everyone can carve out their own journey. There are so many possible avenues for an aspiring stylist to go down, but there is little education on what to really expect in this career. I believe many of us feel limited in our possibilities and potential. I’ve narrowed down a list of 5 things I wish I had known going in to cosmetology school and entering salon life.
- The school isn’t going to make you a successful hairstylist, the effort you put in to learn will. I’ve met, heard and read of so many people paying thousands of dollars going to a name brand school and saying it was absolutely terrible. In some cases that may be true. Understand the brand name school isn’t what is going to make you a successful hairstylist. It isn’t just about the number of hours you attended school (to become a licensed cosmetologist you have to attend a certain amount of hours, which can vary by state. You can view the number of required hours per state right here.)
- Cosmetology School is a full-time job, and a big time and monetary commitment. There are more beauty school dropouts than you realize. The price tag of school when I attended in 2014 was $20,000 which included enrollment, my kit and an iPad which had our e-books. I attended Tuesday-Saturday 9-4:30 and completed 1800 hours, and throughout my time there I saw many students who would enroll and leave, not finishing their license and ultimately wasting their time and money.
- Passion makes the practice more fun. You’ve heard it, I’ve heard it “Practice makes perfect”. True, but try telling that to a hair stylist who’s trying to do their first Triangular Graduation haircut. Being passionate in this industry will take you a long way because it’s not just about nailing a haircut, or the newest colour trend. I’ve found the most passionate hairstylists are always the happiest stylists because they are eager to attend those extra classes, invest in that new pair of shears, spend that time trying to perfect THAT ONE HAIRCUT they are stumped on. If you don’t think hair is your passion or could be something you’d be passionate about, I wouldn’t waste your time.
- It takes years to build a book, and retain a clientele. I didn’t truly understand this until I left hair school, and was working in my first salon. My co-workers had been working for 5+ years already and told me about their journey growing their book. I have been working at my current salon just over a year, and I’m still growing. Going into this career expecting to make it to the big time overnight may be a false expectation, one I also had. My school pumped us up (especially their honours programme) to the point where many of us were disappointed to face the hard reality that we were not going to be making $1000 a week the first year we left hair school! Two years ago there were weeks I was excited to get a check that hit $100 a week. I’m not saying you can’t make it within your first year, I just wish someone had stressed to me that the journey of learning, working hard and hustling doesn’t stop once you graduate. That’s when it truly starts.
- Learn as much as you can, assist as much as you can, watch as much as you can and never ever underestimate the power of teamwork. I say all this because I did an apprenticeship under amazing hairstylists, who taught me things I carry to the salon I work at now. I found myself seeing and learning things it would have taken me years to realize on my own. I also remember the days I would feel like all I did was hand the next foil, or check the processing on a full highlight and hate it. I couldn’t tell you enough how great it is to know my best friend at work has got my back if I’m knee deep in some foiling and I know I need foils checked. Something I heard over and over in hair school was “teamwork makes the dream work” and that applies all throughout your cosmetology journey. There is a team of educators teaching you foundational skills. You as a student and your fellow students are a team of future professional stylists. Your coworkers in your salon are part of your team every day to cultivate the salon culture you want to thrive in. If you can’t be a part of a team in this industry, you need to learn to because you’re gonna need one.
I hope this post can help you if you are considering cosmetology as a career, or maybe give you a few things to think about. I would love to expand this post into a series, maybe a hairstylist f.a.q or a messypot f.a.q.
If you have any questions regarding cosmetology, feel free to drop a comment below.
Have a good one!