Four things to ask yourself before becoming a hairstylist
Guest post by Leandra Greenfield
Trades are growing in popularity these days. More and more young people are interested in the hair industry because of the promise of good money, creative expression, and the freedom to move anywhere and still find work. Granted, hairstyling can be a very rewarding field of work to go into, but is it as easy or rewarding as everyone says? Here are four things to consider before you decide to become a hairstylist.
- Will you be satisfied with the pay system?
Most hairstyling jobs have the potential to pay well; but you have to be willing to settle for minimum wage (or less, believe it or not) while you work to gain the experience and/or clientele needed to support yourself. When you work as an apprentice you’re normally paid a low hourly wage. As soon as you’re fully licenced, most salons will switch to paying you on commission (normally 40 to 50 per cent of the service), so at that point, it’s sink or swim. If you don’t have the experience or clientele to back you up, you can end up making less than you were earning before. You need to prepare for the fact that you’ll have to spend several years working up to an actual livable income.
- Can you work long hours on your feet?
Most trades require a certain level of physical commitment and hairstyling is no exception. Eight to twelve hour work days with no breaks and no sitting down is the norm for most salons. If you have physical problems that make standing an issue; that is something you really need to think about. You can’t take sitting breaks during a busy work day, and the constant standing can really have lasting physical damage.
- Can you take criticism?
When you’re first learning to cut or dye hair, you’ll suck at it. I mean come on, it’s a whole new set of skills to learn (it’s called a skilled trade for a reason). So don’t be too hard on yourself and accept the advice you get from your teachers/mentors. If you’re always defensive or don’t use the advice you get, your skills won’t evolve and you’ll go nowhere. There are always going to be bumps in the road and If you mess up someone’s hair, it’s not exactly something you can squirm your way out of. You have to own up to your mistakes and learn along the way.
- Are you OK with the risks involved?
There are also certain risks associated with being a hairstylist. We deal with a lot of harsh chemicals which are aggressive on the skin and can also release harmful fumes. As with most things, a little exposure to these chemicals every once and a while is OK, but handling them daily can eventually lead to contact dermatitis, respiratory issues, chemical burns and soft tissue damage. I know a lot of hairstylists who eventually became allergic to shampoo, because they washed clients’ hair daily. Their hands would break out in rashes every time they touch the stuff. There are also many other risks that we have to consider, such as contagions and physical wear and tear.
Being a hairstylist is a very fun and rewarding job. If you’re a sociable and energetic person, you’ll most likely love working in this industry. Hairstyling has its ups and downs; but hopefully you can make an informed decision based on some of the points above. Do you feel like hairstyling is the right career choice for you?
Leandra Greenfield is a licensed hairstylist and barber in Toronto, Canada. She has been cutting hair since she was 19 years old and graduated from Marvel in the Yorkville area. Leandra is currently pursuing a degree in public relations, but hopes to always be involved in the hairstyling community.