Dream of a lucrative career in the beauty industry? Today, we’re going to break down how to become a professional hair stylist and find success!

Now, you probably have a ton of questions about this new, exciting journey. But don’t worry – we’ve answered ALL of them for you, right here in this article.

All you need to do is find somewhere comfy to sit and put your feet up. In less time than it’d take you to watch an episode of your favorite Netflix show, you’ll learn everything needed to start your dream career!

Are Hair Stylists the Same as Hair Dressers?

This feels like a solid place to start – namely because these two titles are sometimes used interchangeably. But this isn’t exactly correct. In reality, hair styling and hair dressing are two entirely different careers.

For starters, the training and qualifications required aren’t the same. Hair dressers often need to go to cosmetology school and obtain a cosmetology license in order to work. Hair stylists, on the other hand, don’t technically need professional training (although we’ll touch very shortly on why you should definitely still pursue certification training).

Furthermore, there are certain things hair dressers do that hair stylists can’t. Basically, if it’s a service that actually changes the hair in any way beyond styling (i.e. cutting hair, dye jobs, perms, semi-permanent and/or permanent hair extensions, chemical treatments, etc.), this falls under a hair dresser’s capabilities – but not a hair stylist’s.

Want to learn even more about the similarities vs. differences between hair stylists and hair dressers? Keep reading here!

Is Being a Hair Stylist a Good Career?

Do you love getting creative? Would you be happiest working full-time in the professional beauty industry? Do you have a natural knack for making hair look beautiful? Furthermore, would you get joy from helping clients look their best for important events, weddings, and special celebrations?

If you’ve answered “yes” to any or all of these questions, then guess what?

You should totally start a career as a hair stylist!

Not only will you be challenged both creatively and intellectually, you’ll be fulfilled emotionally as well. As a result, you’ll truly get to say that you’re doing what you love for a living. And really, isn’t that the dream?

How Much Do Professional Hair Stylists Make?

Next, if you want to know how to be a hair stylist, it’s worth knowing how much you can expect to make from this job. Here are some average salary ranges for hair stylists, based on location:

  • United States: Between $20,000 USD to $52,500 USD per year (Source: ZipRecruiter)
  • Canada: Between $27,300 CAD to $44,850 CAD per year (Source: Talent.com)
  • United Kingdom: Between £16,000 GBP to £32,000 per year (Source: Glassdoor)
  • New Zealand: Between $41,599 NZD to $52,920 NZD per year (Source: Salary Expert)
  • Australia: Between $53,625 AUD to $60,000 AUD per year (Source: Talent.com)

Additional Factors to Consider

Keep in mind that your salary will be affected by other factors as well. For instance, a full-time hair stylist will, logically, make more money than someone working part-time. Furthermore, if you live somewhere where hair styling services are in higher demand, your booking potential will be much better.

Other impacting factors can also include whether you’re hired on by an existing company vs. starting your own business. The former will most likely set you up with a set hourly income. The latter, on the other hand, will require some sort of financial investment in the beginning – but then you’ll be able to set your own rates. As a result, you could wind up making a LOT more money eventually.

Finally, it’s also worth taking in account whether you’re only offering hair styling services, or adding them to other existing beauty services, such as makeup artistry. So, as you look at the above salary ranges, don’t forget to factor in that you could also be earning even more money if your business is offering other types of services as well.

The Added Value of a Professional Certification

When you get proper hair styling training, you’re investing time, effort, and money into your skill-set and expertise. Thus, you earn the right to price your services in a way that properly reflects that.

Plus, if your business offers other types of beauty services, as we discussed above, then you can raise those rates as well!

Moreover, having a credible hair styling certification will do wonders in terms of helping you stand out from the local competition. I guarantee you that setting yourself apart from the crowd will not only elevate your career – it’ll definitely help you earn even more money!

Did you know that ALL of QC Makeup Academy’s courses, certifications, and designations are internationally-recognized and accredited? Check out the full list of self-paced, online programs we currently offer here!

What are The Different Types of Hair Stylists?

In my opinion, another reason why starting a career as a hair stylist is such a great idea is because this is one of those awesome jobs that provides a LOT of opportunity. There are countless industries that need hair styling services. As such, you’ll never have a difficult time finding clients, while at the same time, getting to target the areas of the beauty industry that interest you most!

For example, here are just some of the different types of hair stylists out there (that YOU could be, too):

  • Bridal hair stylists
  • Editorial hair stylists
  • Fashion and/or runway hair stylists
  • Film, television, and live theater hair stylists
  • Special events hair stylists
  • Virtual hair stylists (providing services online, either in addition to in-person services, or strictly remotely), etc.

Psst! Here’s a little insider secret…

If you pair these specialized hair styling services with these same specialized makeup services (e.g. providing clients with BOTH bridal hair and makeup for a wedding), you can quickly become a total powerhouse and book more clients than you’ll know what to do with!

After all, you’ll be eliminating the client’s need to seek these additional services elsewhere. Instead, they’ll have the option to book everything they need, all from under one roof, so to say. Talk about a sure-fire way to secure more bookings and make an even higher income!

Okay, so now that you know what it takes to be a professional hair stylist, what should you do to actually become one for real?

Here are 5 tips to walk you through the process!

Step One: Research the Hair Styling Industry

It’s important to begin your journey with a clear game plan. Part of this game plan includes knowing as much as you possibly can about the career you intend to make for yourself.

Here are just some of the things we encourage you to research and learn more about:

  • The job description and typical responsibilities of a professional hair stylist;
  • Past and current popular hair trends;
  • The demand in your local area;
  • Who your local competitors are, what their businesses offer, and how they run these businesses;
  • Who your target clientele will be;
  • Efficient marketing strategies for your own business;
  • What you’ll need to do to launch your own business (i.e. naming your business and getting it registered, building an official website, etc.);
  • Which social media platforms you’d like to establish a presence on;
  • Different areas of the industry you can work in;
  • Which areas of hair styling you’re most passionate about, etc.

If you start your career as a professional hair stylist unprepared, it’ll be really hard for you to make a real name for yourself. But if you do the right research, and walk into the industry with a solid understanding of your role as a stylist, you’ll quickly become a force to be reckoned with!

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Step Two: Take a Course on How to Become a Professional Hair Stylist

First thing’s first: do you want to get your training in-person or online? Let’s take a quick look at these two options.

In-Person Schooling

Brick-and-mortar training is the obvious choice for anyone who thrives most when physically surrounded by their peers and instructor. However, one downside to keep in mind is that in-person courses can get ridiculously expensive!

Another con is the fact that you’ll be forced to go at the same pace as everyone else. Thus, if your hair styling program is, for example, 6 months long, you won’t be able to graduate any sooner than that.

Online Schooling

Online courses, on the other hand, are exceptionally cheaper because there’s no physical campus to maintain. Furthermore, distance learning can often be done at the student’s preferred pace.

QC Makeup Academy, for example, offers online training that’s 100% self-paced! Starting on the date you enroll, you get a full 2 years to finish your program. However, during that time, YOU get to decide when and how often you want to work on your course.

As a student of QC, you could graduate and earn your internationally-recognized certification in as little as 2-6 months, simply by devoting a mere 1-2 hours per week on your studies!

QC Makeup Academy’s Hair Styling Essentials Course

For aspiring hair stylists, QC Makeup Academy’s Hair Styling Essentials Course will teach you everything you need to know! In this 5-unit online course, you’ll discover:

  • How to conduct a successful client consultation;
  • Hair styling etiquette and important hygiene protocols;
  • Proper anatomy of the head and hair;
  • Face shapes and structures;
  • Tools and products used for hair styling;
  • How to build and stock your own styling kit;
  • Blow-drying techniques;
  • How to work with heat/heating tools;
  • Creating a wide variety of flawless curls and hair styles;
  • Popular hair styles from the past and present;
  • How to start your very own business;
  • Client acquisition and retention;
  • Marketing efforts you can make to get your business seen;
  • How to plan a styled photoshoot to help build your professional portfolio;
  • And SO much more!

Once enrolled in this course, you’ll receive your login details for QC’s Online Student Center within 1-2 business days. Within the OSC, you’ll have direct, online access to your digital course materials, assignments, instructional videos, etc.

However, we’ll also mail you a physical copy of your course materials, too (and at no added cost)! Included within your physical materials will be your FREE starter kit. This starter kit contains a curling wand with 5 interchangeable barrels of varying widths. Plus, you’ll also get a heat-proof silicon mat for resting your wand on between curls.

The best part of this course?

Once you graduate, you’ll receive your internationally-recognized Hair Styling Essentials certification. You can proudly add this qualification to your resume – and we PROMISE it’ll wow all of your clients!

Find the full Hair Styling Essentials Course breakdown and curriculum here!

Beautiful woman getting haircut by hairdresser in the beauty salon.

Step Three: Decide on Your Career Path

Once you’ve completed your professional training, it’ll be time to sit down and really think about what you want your career to look like. What kind of hair stylist do you want to be? What are your goals? How will you go about achieving them?

I recommend sitting down, grabbing a pen and paper, and trying to answer the following brainstorming questions:

  • Do you want to start your own business, or join an existing salon?
  • If you wish to start your own beauty business, what do you want it to look like?
    • E.g. What will its name be? How do you want your brand to be? Do you want to travel to the jobs or open a salon of your own? Etc.
  • Would you like your business and/or skill-set to have any particular niches? (I.e. bridal hair styling, virtual services, etc.)
  • Who will be your target demographic?
  • How will you market your services to these potential customers?
  • What are some of the best ways can you get your name out there and network?
  • Do you plan to offer any additional beauty design services (i.e. professional makeup), or strictly stick to hair styling?

Step Four: Dive In and Work on Real Clients!

Throughout the course of your training, you’ll learn all about different hair types, styles, techniques, products, etc. But once you graduate, you’re going to need two very important things if you want to book legitimate, paying clients:

  1. Real-world experience and
  2. A beautiful portfolio of your hair styling work.

After all, prospective customers will want to see that you know what you’re doing before they hire you. Moreover, you’ll be a lot more confident in your skills if you’ve taken the time to truly hone them first. And obviously, this can only really be done through hands-on experience.

Here are a few ways you can gain this crucial experience and develop your portfolio at the same time:

  • Practice your skills on friends and family
  • Offer complimentary hair styling services to people you know
  • Practice the techniques and skills you acquired from your education on your own hair
  • Take part in a stylized photoshoot
  • Lend your hair styling expertise to a good cause, such as not-for-profit or charitable events, etc.

No, you likely won’t be getting paid for any of the above “jobs”. However, at the beginning of your career, this is okay – because what you won’t be gaining in financial profit, you will be gaining in in-field experience. Not to mention, you’ll also have the opportunity to grow your portfolio… and this on its own is invaluable!

Just remember that you won’t be giving away freebies forever. It’s just a necessary step in order to get to where you want to be!

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Step Five: Stay on Top of Hair Styling and Beauty Trends

If this is really the career path you’re most passionate about pursuing, then taking one course at the very beginning of your journey won’t be enough. Instead, you’ll be motivated to absorb as much new information as possible and advance your craft at every turn.

After all, this is one of the single smartest ways to keep your skill-set current – and that’s SUPER important in every job field.

So, stay in the loop about popular hair styling and beauty trends! Follow other industry experts on social media, read beauty publications, and further your education through advanced and/or specialization courses. You can also join online communities and attend networking events.

All of these things will help you remain up-to-date on what’s going on in the industry at all times.

Obviously, what “keeping up-to-date” means to everyone is different and subjective. Regardless, though, it’ll be in your best interest to do so. In the end, committing to and embracing lifelong learning will only ever help you; ultimately, allowing you to continue leaving your mark on the world as a hair stylist and beauty professional.

And really, isn’t that the goal?

Now that you know how to become a professional hair stylist, it’s time to get started! Enroll with QC Makeup Academy today and book your first client in as little as 2-6 months!

Author Sloane Seguin

More posts by Sloane Seguin

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