How to Get a Job at a Salon


Working in a salon is a career where you can use your creativity to improve the appearance of your clients. The job can be attractive to those who also need to take care of a family or want flexible hours as some salons allow workers to choose their own schedule or work evening or morning shifts. The career has opportunities for those who are licensed cosmetology workers such as hairdressers and cosmetologists as well as those who do not have a formal cosmetology education such as shampooers or salon managers.

Things You'll Need

  • Diploma
  • License
  • Choose a career path. Depending on what part of the industry you're interested in, there is a variety of jobs in salons available. Before you can get a job in a salon you need to decide what career you want. Licensed positions in a salon include hairdressers and barbers, who style a client's hair and provide services such as cut and color; manicurists and pedicurists, who are trained to care for a client's nails with buffing, polishing and trimming techniques; and cosmetologists who provide makeup services to clients. Non-licensed career options include shampooers, who wash and prep the client's hair before the hairstylist is ready to cut or color it and salon managers who set the employee schedule, order products and can schedule appointments for clients.

  • Graduate from cosmetology school. To be licensed, which is required to work in most careers in a salon, you'll need to graduate from a cosmetology school. The program usually lasts at least nine months and during that time you'll get instruction in how to style hair, sanitation and sterilization requirements in the industry and salon business skills such as how much time is needed to book specific types of appointments. Plus, to work in a salon in a job other than as a shampooer or a salon manager you'll most likely need to have graduated from a cosmetology school.

  • Get licensed. To work as a hairstylist or manicurist or pedicurist in a salon you will need to have a license. To get a license you'll need to have graduated from cosmetology school and have graduated from high school or have a general education development certificate. You will then need to pass a state written exam as well as a skills test.

  • Apprentice at a salon. If you are unable to get a job as a hairstylist at a salon consider apprenticing. An apprentice is similar to an intern. You'll assist the lead stylists with foils during coloring sessions, sweeping up hair off the floor after cuts and perhaps acting as the shampooer at the salon. Many high-end salons have structured apprentice programs that offer advanced classes with the lead stylists. Programs can last up to a year long, but many apprentices are then hired by the salon to work as a stylist after successfully completing the program.

  • Know what you will get paid before accepting a specific salon job. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2008, hairdressers earned an average of almost $13 an hour, however, the top 10 percent of hairdressers earned more than $20 an hour. Shampooers earned an average of almost $9 an hour, however, the top 10 percent of them earned more than $11 an hour. Manicurists and pedicurists earned an average of nearly $9.50 an hour, however, the top 10 percent earned more than $15 an hour.

Tips & Warnings

  • There are two types of employment when it comes to working in a salon. You can either be self-employed where you will actually rent a space in the salon from the owner, or you can work directly for the owner of the salon. If you are renting a space you will have to pay for all your own supplies but the owner will pay to maintain the building.
  • When working in a salon as a hairstylist or nail technician, one of your goals will be to build up a large clientele. However, if you decide to move and start working at a new salon you may have to rebuild that clientele. When choosing where you want to work, find a salon you will want to be at for a long time.

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  • Photo Credit salon de coiffure image by reynald lassire from the hairstylist image by Frenk_Danielle Kaufmann from the graduate image by Barbara Helgason from connoisseur admiring your advertisement image by Peter Baxter from to cut a bit of sky image by Stasys Eidiejus from stack of cash image by jimcox40 from
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