A hair stylist earns a good living shampooing, cutting, grooming and styling hair. Stylists make the majority of their money by earning tips from customers and commissions on product sales such as shampoos and conditioners. Hair stylists may work long, varied schedules to be available for their customers, which may include evenings, weekends and days.
Stylists rent chairs from salon owners setting their own rates for clients and paying a monthly fee to salon owners. Alternatively, some owners pay a hair stylist by the client or hourly rates to cut hair. Often new hair stylists will learn the ropes and the operation from an established salon, build up their own clientele and break away to run their own business at another location.
Hair stylists are required by most states to have a high school diploma or a GED and must be licensed. They must complete a hair styling program or graduate from cosmetology schools, which are approved by the state. The majority of employers and beauty salons owners also require the completion of formal training at cosmetology schools. Stylists should be certified by each state to meet their specifications.
This career requires keeping up with all the latest hair fashions and new trends to stay abreast of what clients want. With training and experience, a good hair stylist knows how to analyze hair conditions and facial features to recommend flattering hairstyles for each client. Stylists using their skills to create the best cut and style for an individual earn the highest tips. Skill sets include cutting, curling, shaping, trimming and hair arrangement. More advanced skill levels include tinting, dyeing and bleaching.
Future job growth is expected to be good, as new trends demand new cuts, styling and periodic trims. Average median salaries are $23,240, but tips, commissions and market trends can adjust averages considerably.