New Year, new career, right? If you’ve finally decided that you want to pursue hair styling professionally, one of the best things you can do for your career is to take a hair styling course. By taking a course, you’ll learn all the essential skills needed to succeed in the hair industry.
You can reasonably predict what you’ll get out of your program: a certificate or diploma, knowledge of hair and scalp anatomy, hair manipulation techniques, how to recreate popular styles, and suitable products and tools for professional use—but not all programs are created equal!
Some programs may focus too much on theory over practical application, where other programs may not have adequate student support to guide you through the material. Keep reading for our list of what you need to look for in an online hair styling course!
Are they upfront about what you’ll be learning?
Vague syllabi can mislead potential students into thinking they’ll be learning every styling technique under the sun, only to be taught simple braiding for a $1000 course! A trustworthy course provider should be transparent about what your course covers content-wise, and the kinds of tools you’ll need. If you’re required to curl hair using a wand for an assessment, do they provide you with your own hair styling kit as part of your course materials? Or are you expected to go out to purchase tools from a specific brand or store?
Find out as much as you can about a course’s structure. Are there exams? Is the course assignment-based only? If you find out that all your tests are multiple-choice and on scantrons, don’t even bother! Look for courses that are assignment based and require you to explain your thinking or take photos of your work to test your actual skills in styling hair. This way you’ll be able to improve your technique based on the feedback your tutor gives you when marking your work.
Do they test you on your technical skills?
You cannot learn how to properly style someone’s hair without hands-on experience! Courses that never ask you to work on a real-life model can never truly prepare you for working with matted dreads or damaged hair.
If your school has a money-back guarantee, it can be a great way for you to check out the course first to see if it’s right for you. The last thing you want is to blindly enroll and spend thousands of dollars on a program you don’t end up liking.
Do they teach you business foundations?
While not technically necessary, many stylists double as makeup artists and are self-employed. As such, some programs include business units or additional business courses so that graduates are fully-prepared to launch their careers right from the get-go.
You can expect to learn how to draft receipts, create a business plan, conduct industry research, promote your business online and through traditional media, as well as learn how to network and build/maintain industry contacts. Stripped-down hair styling essentials programs may exclude these business aspects. So, you may want to look for courses that specifically advertise these important resources depending on your ultimate career goals.
Your Course Providers
Are they compliant with hair service regulations in your area?
If you’re taking an online course in hair, chances are, you won’t learn how to cut, dye, perm hair, or apply more permanent types of extensions. These practices are highly regulated by state licensing boards and often require a cosmetology or barber’s license to practice. If an online course states that you’ll become licensed at the end of the course—be wary!
You may be required to attend specific schools and take a state-administered licensing test that an online institution may not be eligible for. Before you start your course, make sure that you check in with your local government agencies or state cosmetology board to see if any regulations apply to you. For just plain-and-simple hair styling, you’ll likely be able to work so long as you’ve completed professional training! If you’re thinking about getting involved in chemical styling or cutting, you’re going to need more than just a hair styling course!
Are there any program success stories?
We can’t express how important it is to do you research when it comes to finding a legitimate online course. Your school of choice should have a strong online presence—we’re talking about active social media pages and a website ON TOP OF being accredited on recognized association pages. The school should also have a page on the Better Business Bureau site, and list their key points of contact with credentials and online presence.
Lastly, a company can talk themselves up all they want, but what are other people saying about them? Especially since you’re looking into becoming a student, you’ll want to look for student/graduate reviews and success stories. People don’t tend to write reviews unless they’re passionate about a product or service. Having access to raw, honest accounts of how the course works, instructor insights, and what graduates were able to accomplish after the course can to give you a good idea of a school’s education quality.
Who are your instructors / tutors?
Your instructors and tutors should always be named with links to their own professional pages. Credible institutions will offer a list of instructors for their programs. Just like in prestigious universities, the instructors should be industry professionals with many years of experience. We can’t tell you how many schools vaguely claim that they employ a “celebrity hair stylist” to teach their courses and then never name them!
If your course allows you to test it out to see if it’s for you, complete an assignment and see how you are evaluated. Are your tutors (and instructors) professional when they grade you? Do they sound like they know what they talking about—do they make use of industry concepts and lingo, and does it sound like they actually looked at your work?
The last thing you want is impersonalized feedback in the form of blanket statements—how can you use this feedback to help you learn? Short, answer: you can’t! Your clients in real life will be telling you what they like and don’t like about your skills, so learn to welcome constructive feedback!
Did we miss anything? Add to our list in a comment below!