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Unlocking Success in Your Hairstylist Career Path

Is it trending up or down in the hairstyling industry?

The hairstyling industry is ever-evolving, and whether you've just started your journey as a hairstylist or have been in the salon for years, it's essential to consider your next steps. In this comprehensive guide, we'll break down the different phases of a hairstylist's career, providing insights to help you answer the question, "What's next for me?"

Key Industry Insights

Before we delve into the intricacies of a hairstylist's career path, let's take a closer look at some key industry statistics:

Trending Up:

The number of hairstylist positions is projected to increase by a substantial 9% between 2018 and 2028.

Total revenue for the US salon industry in 2022 reached an impressive $46.2 billion.

On a global scale, the hair industry market size is expected to soar from $69 billion USD to $87 billion in 2023.

Average Hairstylist Salary:

When considering average hairstylist salaries, it's vital to account for years of experience and the phase of your career. In the US, the average total pay for a hairstylist is approximately $83,047 per year. Keep in mind that this figure varies based on location, so ZipRecruiter provides an insightful breakdown of average salaries by state.

Average Salon Costs:

For those considering opening their own salon, it's crucial to be aware of the associated costs. While these expenses depend on factors such as your business plan, goals, and location, here's a rough estimate:

  • Average cost to purchase an existing salon space: $40,000–$200,000
  • Average cost to build your own salon: $100,000–$500,000

Understanding Your Career Path

Now, let's explore the various phases of a hairstylist's career and what each stage entails:

1. Junior Stylist, Trainee, Assistant

Average Salary: $16.06/hour

Fresh out of beauty school, your journey begins as a junior stylist or trainee. Junior stylists play a vital role in larger salons, ensuring the smooth running of day-to-day operations. This is your chance to establish a foothold in the salon industry and lay the foundation for your career.

Typical Tasks:

  • Assist at the front desk
  • Answer phones
  • Greet clients
  • Prepare clients for treatment
  • Shampoo clients' hair
  • Disinfect equipment
  • Stock retail areas
  • Assist senior hairstylists

2. Full-Time Stylist — Fully Booked

After a year or two as a junior stylist or assistant, most hairstylists transition to full-time stylists. At this stage, it's essential to hone your skills and build a robust client base.

Required Skills:

  • Help clients choose the right haircut and hairstyle.
  • Perform a variety of haircutting techniques, including trims, layers, and texturizing.
  • Offer coloring services, such as highlights, ombre, and balayage.
  • Style hair with precision, including blowouts, curls, braids, ponytails, and updos.
  • Master the art of upselling clients on products and services.
  • Cultivate lasting relationships with clients to ensure their loyalty.

3. Booth or Suite Rental

Once you've proven your ability to maintain a fully booked schedule and grow your client list, you may contemplate venturing out on your own. This phase often involves renting a booth or a suite, where you have greater autonomy over your business.

Average Cost:

Booth rental prices vary by location, with estimates ranging from $250 to $1,250 per month. To ensure financial stability, it's recommended to allocate approximately 15% of your budget for rent.

4. Salon Owner

Running your booth or suite can pave the way for the ultimate phase in a hairstylist's career: owning your own salon. While owning a salon is a dream for many stylists, it may not be the right path for everyone.

Key Statistics:

  • Average salon owner salary: $75,000 per year
  • Average cost to start a salon: $62,000
  • Average salon profit margin: 8.2%

How to Make the Transition

If you're contemplating leaving your current salon, whether to find a larger one or start your own, here are some valuable tips to ensure a smooth transition:

  1. Understand Why You're Quitting: Before making any decisions, introspect to identify the reasons behind your desire to move on. Is there a situation that can be resolved without changing salons, or are you ready for a new challenge?

  2. Do Your Research: Before quitting, conduct thorough research on potential employers and job opportunities. Update your resume and create a list of preferred workplaces, including their names, locations, and contact information.

  3. Protect Your Client List: Depending on your employment status, clarifying ownership of your client list is crucial. This should be resolved with your current employer before parting ways.

Exploring Alternative Career Paths

Sometimes, transitioning out of hairstyling is a necessary step. Here are some common roles that former hairstylists often excel in:

  1. Corporate Trainer: If you have expertise in hairstyling, you can train employees in companies, teaching them about products, techniques, and creating instructional materials.

  2. Pet Groomer: Your skills can be repurposed in pet grooming, where patience, styling and cutting techniques, and customer service are highly valued.

  3. Affiliate Marketer: With your knowledge of hair products, transitioning to selling makeup, nail, skin, and hair products can be a lucrative venture.

  4. Beauty Influencer/Social Media Marketing: Leverage your unique style and education to become a social media personality, specializing in hair and beauty.

In summary, the hairstyling industry offers diverse opportunities for career progression, from entry-level positions to salon ownership. Understanding the phases of a hairstylist's career and planning your next steps is crucial for long-term success.

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