Master stylists are hair stylists who have earned recognition and a reputation for excellent work. They are often sought out by clients and can charge premium rates based on their reputation and talent. Master stylists often own their own studio or salon, or work for established high-end salons. Salaries vary, though master stylists typically earn significantly more than average hair stylists.
According to the Simply Hired website, the average salary for master stylists is $53,000 as of June 2011. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the median hourly wage for hairstylists in 2008 was $11.13. The lowest paid 10 percent earn less than $7.47 an hour, while the highest paid 10 percent earn more than $20.41 an hour. Master stylists can expect to earn a salary on the higher end of this range.
Many stylists, including master stylists, earn a significant percentage of their income from tips. According to the Beauty Survival website, proper etiquette for tipping a stylist is 15 to 20 percent of the cost of the hair cut before taxes. Master stylists often charge at least $50, sometimes much more, for a hair appointment, so they can expect to earn 15 to 20 percent of the cost of the appointment in tips from each customer on top of their normal wages.
Some master stylists also receive benefits in addition to their salary. Higher end salons with salaried master stylists often offer paid vacation and sick time for their stylists. However, stylists that are self-employed or work part time typically do not receive these benefits, according to the BLS. Other benefits for master stylists might include free product samples to try for themselves and promote to customers, as well as free or discounted salon services.
The job outlook for master stylists is positive. According to the BLS, hairstylists can expect a 20 percent increase in job opportunities between 2008 and 2018, which is higher than most other industries. However, master stylists seeking work in high-end salons will face more competition than entry-level stylists competing for lower paying jobs. Master stylists with an established client list and strong reputation will have the most opportunities to work for salons or start their own successful styling business.