How to become a session stylist

Fashion models work with top designers by walking the runway to introduce their latest styles to the fashion world. The total look includes the latest in fashion hair styling as well. A session stylist is a professional hair stylist with the skills and certifications of his craft and the talents of an artist and designer as well. He completes the look by creating the hairstyle that complements the designer's fashion statement.

Obtain your cosmetologist license. You will need to attend a certified cosmetology school, completing between 1,500 and 1,800 hours of instruction and passing the examinations for licensing. Requirements may vary by state, so research the specifics for your state and those in which you want to work. Even though you have a license to practice in one state, you may need to be recertified if you operate in another. You may also need to complete an apprenticeship with a licensed stylist for a period of time before obtaining your license.

Begin building a portfolio. As you perfect your craft and personal style, take photographs of your best work. Begin with a few styles and put together a portfolio to show to hair session stylist agents. Session work requires creativity and recognised expertise, so be critical of your work and choose a few outstanding styles. Get feedback from seasoned stylists as well. Don't expect to be paid at the beginning. Instead, focus on building professional relationships and demonstrating your talent.

Continue your education. Beauty and hair stylist product companies offer seminars and online training that can help expand your knowledge and expertise. Begin collecting certifications and course completions to add to your resume. Look for opportunities to work with local recognised experts in the industry. Ask for recommendations from these stylists after successful collaborations.

Offer your services for free. Many charitable, civic and professional organisations include fashion shows as part of their meetings and fundraisers. As the hair stylist for the event, you can get valuable publicity in the media and at the event. Make yourself available for interviews and send press releases to the media as well. Be visible at the events and talk to the organisers and other prominent members and guests. Include in your portfolio copies of brochures, posters or videos featuring your work.

Get inspired and refreshed. Take a tip from the top fashion designers, who create a new line twice a year to impress the fashion editors and buyers. Seek inspiration for new hair styles from art, music, nature, current events and fashion trends. Challenge yourself to create new styles on a theme at least twice a year as well. Prepare styles that are distinctive and represent your passion for the art.

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About the Author

Mary Nestor-Harper has more than 12 years as a human-resources director and more than 19 years experience as an HR/management consultant. She has been published in "Training Magazine," "The Savannah Morning News" and on the Web. A television and radio business, career and motivation expert, she shares career and job search tips as Ageless Media Network's career expert on WTKS-AM 1290, Savannah, Ga.