Stylists who have been in the industry for several years may be ready to look into a senior stylist position. Typically those in the beauty business who move to this position have been working as a hair stylist for at least five years and continue going to seminars and workshops to stay abreast of industry changes so that they are ready to make the leap when a position becomes available.
A high school graduate who is 16 years or older can apply for entry to a cosmetology training program. Most states require a set number of hours of training that lasts anywhere from nine to 18 months. As an option, a stylist can obtain an associate degree for a certificate or diploma in cosmetology. In training, you will work on various students and actual customers who are willing to be styled by students, which will build your skills and possibly your clientele. Students will also take courses in salon management and become familiar with sanitation and health regulations for the state in which they will work.
A stylist with several years of experience can apply for several types of jobs. However, the beginning stylist will typically begin by obtaining entry-level positions in salons. Tasks may include answering phones and scheduling appointments. Hiring managers and lead stylists may also assign new graduates to lower-level styling tasks such as shampooing, curling and applying perms to customers.
Maintaining your skills will not only come from performing tasks on customers. A stylist who plans to one day serve as a senior or lead stylist will attend various workshops and classes to stay current with the latest in trends and technology. Beauty shows typically last anywhere from two to four days and are packed with new products and information from which stylists will benefit. Failing to keep your skills current will likely keep you from ever becoming a senior stylist.
As a senior stylist, you can also find work in other beauty-related fields. Working as a consultant or sales representative for a major beauty corporation can build your experience and credibility in the industry quickly. Working for a major beauty company is also an excellent way to build contacts for networking purposes when you are ready to seek a position as a lead stylist or open your own salon.
A lead or senior stylist is responsible for customer satisfaction and is expected to have the skills necessary to perform any requested hair service that the salon offers. A senior stylist will also be responsible for assigning customers to stylists, collecting booth rent and possibly keeping books and records and overseeing the schedule of the salon in terms of customer booking and employee booth hours.
The senior stylist may also be required to select and order product lines for sale in the salon and maintain a high clientèle for the business. This could include assigning walk-in customers to available stylists on the floor.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while the entry-level positions are expected to grow in availability by 20 per cent between 2008 and 2018, much faster than other occupations, the higher-level positions, such as senior stylists, are expected to face extensive competition for jobs and clients at more exclusive salons with higher pay. Jobs at this level are fewer than at entry-level and require competition with a larger number of experienced and licensed cosmetologists. Those successful in their search will likely have experience in higher-level positions as well as the ability to perform the widest variety of services.