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Get Your Hairstylist License in Four Easy Steps

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If you're interested in becoming a hairstylist, you may be wondering, how much do hairstylists make, do you need a license to do hair, and do you need a license to sell hair products? You may want to know if there are consequences to cutting hair without a license. We'll answer those and many other questions in this guide. We'll also tell you how to get a hairstylist license in just four steps.

The Licensed Hairstylist Industry Expansion

If you're looking for a recession-proof profession, consider a career in hairdressing and getting your hairstylist license. This career path is one that is always going to be in demand, since not everyone can cut their hair themselves.

Hairstylist job description

Cosmetology includes hairdressing. As a hairdresser, you would use hot hair rollers, curlers, crimpers, straighteners, hair blowers, razors, and scissors to create wildly different hairstyles. You'd braid and weave hair, create cornrows, and do eyelash extensions. A cosmetologist would do hair and give manicures and pedicures, give facials, remove hair and apply makeup.

This profession involves geometry and other kinds of math and science to see how light and color interact with skin tones. No matter whether you're a hairdresser or a cosmetologist, you'll need to regularly clean and sanitize the equipment and workstations.

What kind of work opportunities are available in the licensed hairdresser industry?

Hairstylists will find work in beauty salons, resorts, on movie sets, or in professional theaters. Some cosmetologists work in mortuaries, making the deceased look beautiful. Hairstylists will always find work. However, the work nearly always requires standing for many hours, with weekends and evenings being prime work hours.

What exactly is the licensed hairstylist growth trend?

Back in 2016, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected a 13% increase in demand for cosmetologists between the years of 2016 and 2026. The increase in population and the increased demand for specialized hair techniques are what was expected to drive this projected demand. As for how much the pay is, cosmetologists make an average of $29,500 yearly, which converts to about $14.23 per hour, excluding tips.

How to Become a Hairstylist

While it may seem like a relatively simple profession, a lot goes into becoming a stylist. Here are some of the things you need to know about becoming a hairstylist:

What are the hairstylist education requirements to get a hairdresser license?

In addition to passing the various beautifying classes required by your state, you need to attend the required math classes. You'll use math, angles, shapes, the hair's length, hair growth, and other factors to determine the best hair cut for a client. You'll use "color math" to achieve the hair colors your clients want.

This is based on three primary hair color types and three secondary ones. The result is that certain tones are accentuated or are diminished. Sometimes you'll need math to tell you the best ratio when combining hair color bottles to achieve a desired color.

How many years of experience can a licensed hairstylist expect to work?

Some cosmetology schools accept students who are as young as 16. You can start at a young age and have a long, rewarding career, just as long as you have a good work ethic, have the ability to stand on your feet for hours every day, and you're motivated. Many hairdressers continue doing hair into their elder years.

Do you need to earn a hairstylist license?

Just as your state will dictate what courses you need to take when you're earning your license, your state determines whether or not you need a license to practice hair styling or some other aspects of cosmetology. However, clients feel safer if you have a license because they know you meet a general standard and that you are up-to-date.

When first getting your license, you can expect to take classes and exams for between one and two years. The number of years it takes depends on your chosen path and how much you participate in training hours.

Your state's board regulations determine whether you need to renew your license every one or two years. You'll have to pay a fee whenever you renew. Your state may also require you to earn continuing education credits every year, either online or at a physical school.

How to Get a Hairstylist License: Step-by-Step

If you're considering going into this profession, here are four steps to become a hairstylist.

Step 1. Research licensed hairdresser or cosmetology programs

Education requirements vary from state to state, so you'll want to obtain your license in the state where you plan to practice. If you don't have a high school diploma or GED, you'll need to do some research to find out whether your state requires you to have one of those before starting the state's cosmetology program. If you're especially young, find out the minimum age your state allows into a cosmetology program.

In addition to state-approved cosmetology schools, your state may have dedicated hairstyling schools and colleges that have cosmetology programs. When you've found schools that accept your education level and age, inquire about the schedule to see if it fits in with yours. If you need financial assistance, ask about that as well.

Step 2. Complete your licensed hairstylist education

If you choose to attend a hairdresser school, you could get through the program in as little as nine months. You'll learn about the cosmetology standards in your state, as well as about:

  • Customer service
  • Essential tools
  • Shampooing and conditioning
  • Cutting and styling techniques
  • How to chemically alter hair
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Business basics
  • Chemistry
  • Marketing
  • Merchandising

If you choose a cosmetology program instead of a hairdressing program, it will take you up to another year longer to get through. That's because of the extra beautifying things you'll learn how to do. Since you would be spending two years in school anyway, you may consider getting an associate degree in cosmetology from your local community college or technical school.

Step 3. Fulfill training hour requirements with a licensed hairdresser

Your state will likely require you to complete either an apprenticeship with an experienced hairdresser or else a particular number of training hours. You'll do some basic tasks, such as shampooing and conditioning. During these hours, you'll also watch how the more experienced hairstylist interacts with their customers.

Your educational program may have a list of stylists that you can work with to complete this apprenticeship. If not, make sure the stylist you choose has the proper licensing.

Step 4. Pass the hair license exams

To receive your hairstylist license, you'll need to pass a written exam and a practical exam. The written exam will likely be a multiple-choice one. It will test your knowledge about science concepts, styling techniques, best practices, infection control, hair maintenance, and other things.

Like everything else, this written test can vary from state to state and require you to be tested regarding state requirements. For the practical exam, you may have to cut and style a client's hair, give advice and provide suggestions or maintain a practice workstation. Aspiring cosmetologists may have to also demonstrate their skills as a:

  • Makeup artist
  • Stylist
  • Esthetician
  • Beautician
  • Salon or spa expert
  • Nail technician

FAQs From Hairstylists

Here are some of the most common FAQs from hairstylists:

Can you start working after receiving a hairdressing license?

Once you are a licensed hairdresser, you can look for work. Hopefully, you developed a network of friends when you were in school because some of them can tell you where they've seen job openings. Chain salons have a high turnover and may not be the most pleasant places to work, but you could easily get your first hairdresser job at a chain salon.

This can also help you build up a client base that you can take with you if you decide to go out on your own. Perhaps you want to do hair at your home or at the client's preferred location. You could also open your own shop. If you do go this route, you may want to hire other stylists to split costs.

Can a licensed hairdresser do more than cut hair?

With your cosmetology license, you can specialize in any of the extra beautifying areas that you studied. You could work somewhere that lets you do nearly all of the services you learned. Alternatively, you could focus on hair, perhaps specializing as a weavologist, colorist, natural hair care specialist, hair care specialist, or hair designer. Note the difference...

  • Weavologist: specializes in extensions and fake hair. A colorist specializes in colors and tones.

  • Natural hair care specialist: focuses on specific natural hair textures.

  • Hair care specialist: maintains or restores the health of hair.

  • Hair designer: creates trends among wider public in the way they carry their hair style.

Do you need a hairdresser license to be a mobile hairdresser?

Most states have ruled that anyone providing barbery, cosmetology services, or hairstyling services for payment must be licensed. However, this may not be true if you provide your services in your clients' homes. However, all self-employed people must register as a business.

Does a licensed hairstylist make a lot of money?

So, how much does a hairstylist make? Booth rent and the salon owner's percentage of the sales eat into a cosmetologist's profits. Customer volume depends on the shop's traffic at particular times of day and on the shop's location. Cosmetologists have made roughly $28,500 per year over the past decade. However, mobile hairdressers don't pay those fees, and they can plan for daily high volume. Mobile hairdressers average $55,302 per year.

Top earners among mobile hairdressers make about $123,500. You can make more by promoting your business online and in your local area. Referral rewards are a great way to get your existing clients to spread the word to their family and friends. Another great idea is having an active online presence, especially on sites like Instagram. Posting before and after pictures of your clients will help you get even more customers.

How do I protect my licensed hairdresser business from risk?

After you've earned your hairdressing license, you'll have to decide on a career path. If you want to open a salon, you'll need lots of financing and an extensive business plan. If you want to work in somebody else's salon, you'll need to rent space.

In either scenario, you'll need to get professional liability insurance, general liability insurance, product insurance, and hairstylist insurance. If a client accuses you of negligence, professional liability insurance will protect you.

General liability insurance protects you if a customer injures themselves at the salon. The salon owner will require you to have general liability insurance before renting the space to you.

If a client has an adverse reaction to a product you used on their hair, product insurance will protect you. Salon insurance would cover odd occurrences, such as third-party property damage, non-employee bodily injury, errors and omissions, and defense costs.

Get the Insurance You Need

Now you know what it takes to become a hairstylist and that you need to then take care of business on the back end. Insurance is one important piece of business that you'll need to take care of. Call us at CoverWallet at (646) 844-9933 or schedule a call on our website to learn how to protect your business.