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A Welcome Message to Students from Jon Gonzales

Congratulations on choosing hairdressing as your profession.  You have chosen a profession that offers unlimited potential once you gain experience, knowledge, and make a firm commitment to maximizing your full learning and earning potential.

Student girl in hairdressing learning how to cut hair

Beauty school is designed to protect the public health and safety of the consumer and prepare you to pass your state board of examination.  It is not designed to give you all the skills and experience you will need in a very competitive and changing job market, especially if you want to work in an upscale salon.  You will benefit from the many educational resources available on this site, such as  A Hairdresser’s Guide to Success Personal, Professional and Financial, my booklet 91 Success Tips for Hairdressers  (free with sign-up to my newsletter), and the Hairdresser’s Guide to Excellence CD Audio.

The FAQs below may help you resolve questions about your career.  I trust this information will enable you to make informed career decisions based on fact, not guesswork, as you begin your journey towards success and happiness.  Welcome to the beauty profession.

Frequently Asked Questions from Beauty School Students

1. In addition to developing my artistic skills what other skills should I develop?

Tomorrow’s business minded professional will have to know more than how to cut and style hair if they want to gain that all important competitive edge.

I would work hard on developing your people and communication skills, develop positive attitudes and work habits, develop your salesmanship skills, self-management and motivation. I urge you to take classes in public speaking; it will prove invaluable in helping you develop your people and communication skills. Toastmaster’s International is an excellent beginning. Lack of communication is the number one cause of customer loss. With experience, you will improve these additional skills.

2. Should I work in a franchise or an upscale chair salon?

This will depend on you. You will have to determine the type of salon you want to begin your career with. There are benefits to working in either type of salon. In my opinion, the only drawback is that franchise salons charge lower prices and must depend on volume. I believe that it’s critical that you reestablish a solid learning foundation on which to grow in the beginning of your development. You will need to develop your perming skills, coloring skills, customer interaction skills, learn about facial features and bone structure and personal mentoring. An upscale salon will be able to give you more personalized guidance and education. You’ll be able to expand your full learning and earning potential; eventually manage and maybe someday own your own salon. In the end; choose the type of salon that will help you meet your goals. The higher the standards you set for yourself the higher your rewards.

3. Can I rent a booth after I've been trained at another salon?

Yes, but don’t expect to take customer lists with you. There is a question of honesty and a code of ethics; if you go to another salon, let the new salon owner take care of you. Let them provide you with new customers. You cannot achieve long term success at the expense of other people. In building your career, make honesty and a code of ethics a high priority to your long term success and development.

4. What about leasing and renting of booths?

I would suggest you avoid leasing and renting of booths at all costs. You’ll need a lot of training and education and customers to successfully rent a booth. Salon owners cannot provide you with the mentoring, training, and education you’ll need when starting your career.

In order to build your self-confidence and self-esteem; you’ll need to be in a positive and professional salon environment that offers training and education. In a booth rented situation, you’ll be competing with other hairdressers in your

5. What do I look for in compensation?

Most salons will pay you commission, hourly wage, or a combination of both. Your main concern when starting your career is to acquire the educational skills so that you can build value in yourself, then create a demand for your services.

Finding a salon that offers mentoring, training, and education should be your priority. Nine months of beauty school is just not enough time to gain the hands on experience and additional people skills you’ll need to compete and justify a higher income, especially if you want to attract an upscale clientele and charge upscale prices.

If you were going to college it would take 4-6 years to get a degree as well as pay back student loans. When going to college, students do not get paid and usually have to intern and work free for one year. Although entry levels are low when beginning your career, once you acquire the skills and create a demand for your services, your income will grow considerably. This is one of the professions where you can literally get all the overtime you want, once you create value in your skills.

Most young starters’ biggest obstacle is developing unrealistic career and earning expectations. Take one step at a time, as you gain experience and knowledge, your opportunities will grow. Once you acquire a solid learning foundation in developing a demand for your services, the sky’s the limit.

6. How do I combat a lack of self-confidence?

Everybody lacks self confidence when starting their career. It’s just part of the growing process. Try to learn and follow salon procedures and educational guidelines; minimize and learn from your mistakes and continue to grow. Ask your boss how you can improve. With experience and ongoing education you will slowly overcome self-doubt.

7. How do I find quality education?

There are many classes available. Make sure you get references. Product companies offer classes, trade shows are also a source of learning. The cheapest and best forms of education are probably in salon training. Most salons train and develop their own.

Focus your full attention on basics and commercial everyday salon work. Assisting a top hairdresser can be invaluable; if they’re willing to share their experience and knowledge. When you’re not busy, watch the other hairdressers; then practice, practice, practice on friends or relatives what you’ve learned and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

8. How do I gain experience; especially in precision haircutting and styling techniques?

This will be a major obstacle when starting your career. Unfortunately, you need a lot of hands on experience and nine months of beauty school is just not enough time to give you all the skills needed to create a demand for your services, especially if you want to work in an upscale salon charging upscale prices. A top salon that offers training and education will be invaluable. Assisting would be very helpful in helping you gain valuable hands on experience. Practice as much as you can on friends and relatives. Take basic and advanced haircutting classes. As you gain valuable experience and knowledge you will gradually build a clientele. Most top salons provide marketing and advertising to help you build a clientele. If a salon is expecting you to bring a clientele, let that serve as a warning that the owner probably has very little to offer you during your development.

9. What about trade shows for education?

Seek out classes that provide color classes, clipper cutting for men and the type of classes that provide knowledge that will help you meet and exceed client expectations. Avoid the glitter and hype and the lavish stage shows; seek out an educator that tries to educate you; not entertain you. Focus your full attention on developing your commercial men and women haircutting and styling skills for your average consumer.

10. What should I look for in a salon and owner?

Seek out a salon that offers training and education. Talk with the owner, talk to the other hairdressers, visit the salon, and find out their background and experience. Will this salon owner be a good mentor or coach? Will he/she help me reach my full learning and earning potential? Keep in mind; you and you alone control your own success or failure. The owner can only do so much. Keep an open mind to learning and accept constructive criticism.

The salon that sets high standards will be a good opportunity. If you want to attract an upscale clientele and charge upscale prices; you’ll have to become an upscale professional!

11. What about big name salons vs. a small salon?

You can’t rule out the smaller salons especially if you want to work closer to your home; you’ll be able to get more individual attention. Do you want to be a small fish in an ocean or a big fish in a small pond? A smaller salon will be able to give you more individual attention and opportunities. The important thing to remember is to seek out good training and support. Find a salon and owner that will be your mentor during your development. Their incentive to bring out the best in you will be great. If you’re successful, they’ll be successful, if you fail, they can go out of business.

12. How do I form a positive first impression when applying for a job?

I suggest you first call for an appointment and ask if you can fill out an application form. Make sure when you arrive at the salon you project a professional appearance, bring a well written resume, display a warm smile, and bring out your best personality.

Make sure you have two models – preferably a male and female – ready in case you’re asked to show your artistic skills at another day.

During the interview, let the owner know you’re interested in training and education; this will impress the owner.

13. What are salon owners looking for in a new employee?

Most astute business-minded owners are looking for committed young hairdressers who truly show a passion toward their profession, who truly care about people, and who want to learn and reach higher levels of excellence. Other prerequisites are a fantastic professional appearance, a pleasing personality, an open mind towards learning, a positive attitude, strong work habits, and knowledge of basic commercial barbering and styling techniques. Top salons (they are hard to find) will usually train you according to their artistic and quality control standards. Seek out salons that set high standards of excellence; the higher the standards, the higher the rewards.

14. What are the drawbacks of assisting?

Sometimes there are some hairdressers or salons that exploit assisting. If the person you’re assisting will teach you, and is willing to let you learn from his or her experience and be your mentor and share their knowledge, experience, etc, this would be the way to learn. Oh yes, you’ll have to shampoo, do cleanups, combat down time, etc. Keep in mind this is what I call “paying your dues.” Keep a positive attitude, learn as much as you can and practice what you’ve learned. Even as a shampoo assistant, you will be able to interact with people and develop your people and communication skills. Learn the power of customer service. Develop strong work habits and show a caring attitude about people; it’ll pay big dividends…I guarantee it! Your opportunity will come.

15. Is assisting a good way to learn and gain valuable hands on experience?

I believe assisting is an excellent way to get your feet wet in gaining valuable in-salon experience. Learning from an experienced mentor or other hairdressers in everyday salon situations would help you establish a solid foundation in helping you develop your skills. Assisting will not only help you in developing your artistic skills; but also help you develop critical human relation skills. Assisting will allow you to gain valuable hands on experience.

16. How can I accelerate my education while in beauty school?

I suggest you work hard while at school, learn as much as possible while in school, listen to your teachers, ask a lot of questions and keep learning. Then practice what you’ve learned on friends, relatives, school clients, etc. Take advantage of the Hairdresser Career Development Learning Systems, their educational programs are designed to give you a “head start” in helping you develop a solid learning foundation on which to grow.

When you have 2 to 3 months left in school, start visiting salons in your area and start taking basic commercial haircutting classes for men and women. Introduce yourself to the owner; they may let you watch and learn. Perhaps offer your services as a receptionist or cleanup person. There is no speed limit when seeking out education.

17. Is beauty school enough education to justify a high income?

No. Nine months of beauty school is not enough time to teach you all the additional skills you’ll need to create a demand for your services. Getting your license is but your first step. Beauty school curriculum is designed to follow a curriculum set forth by your state board of cosmetology to protect the public health and safety of the consumer. It is not designed to teach you all the skills you’ll need to meet job market and consumer demands, especially if you want to attract an upscale clientele and charge upscale prices. You’ll need a lot of hands on experience working on clients. In addition, you’ll need a lot of hands on training and experience in the areas of commercial haircutting and styling skills. The clients in upscale salons are far different than the clients you work on during your beauty school education.

18. How long does it take to build a successful hairdressing career?

There will be many factors: experience, continuing education, your salon, proper guidance, and a lot of initiative on your part. If you’re fortunate to work in a salon that is progressive and offers education and training you could start building a successful hairdressing career within two years after beauty school. Some of you may require a longer training period; while others may be able to succeed in a shorter time period. Your speed of development will depend on your competitive spirit, willingness to learn, open mindedness, and effort. Yes, there will be peaks and valleys during your development; minimize and learn from your mistakes and continue to grow. After 40 years, I’m still learning.

19. What are the pitfalls and obstacles in building a successful hairdressing career?

Unfortunately, a lot of education available today is outdated and not responding to growing job market and consumer demands. Nine months of beauty school is just not enough time to gain valuable hands on experience and other skills necessary in meeting job market and consumer demands. In my opinion, there’s too much glitter and hype as seen at many of our trade shows and not enough basic commercial or salon work that benefits the average everyday consumer. If you want to attract an upscale clientele, charge upscale prices, then you’ve got to develop into an upscale professional. Good is not enough anymore. Frequent job change, poor job choices, unrealistic career and earning expectations, poor work habits, negative attitudes and lack of initiative on your part are other obstacles you must avoid.

20. What about job security?

An excellent hairdresser will always be in demand. Competitively speaking, you will probably succeed by default. Studies consistently show that only 10% will make the required effort and sacrifice to achieve success; the other 90% will keep looking for excuses to fail.

If the hairdressing profession is so good, why do so many young hairdressers leave the profession? There are many reasons….unrealistic career and earning expectations, lack of personal initiative and self-motivation, lack of objective information about the realities of building a hairdressing career, and far too many are unwilling to make the effort and sacrifices needed to succeed.

Other obstacles are poor job choices, lack of quality education and hands on experience, lack of career guidance and frequent job change, are just some of the reasons so many leave the profession. Far too many young starters leave the profession before they give it a chance. Building a career will take time, experience, patience, ongoing support and education, and a fierce determination to succeed. Sadly, far too many want to run before they walk. Building a hairdressing career is a journey.

As you embark on your journey you will encounter many peaks and valleys as you climb the ladder of success; learn from your mistakes. With hard work and a competitive spirit you will reach your goals.

21. What is the outlook for the future?

As the shake-down continues to deplete our growing labor shortage, there will be a great demand for hairdressers once you gain experience, continue to learn, create value in yourself, and create a demand for your services.

Although statistics show we have a surplus of hairdressers, there is and will be a high shortage of well trained and committed professionals who truly stand above the crowd. Women are going to work in record numbers; visiting a hair salon or spa is no longer a luxury, but a necessity.

Our ability to service both men and women, our country’s obsession with looking and feeling good about themselves, and the business emphasis on image, make the future very promising indeed.

22. Will there be a demand for hairdressers?

Although it seems that we have far too many hairdressers, there will be a great demand for outstanding committed professionals who truly want to maximize their full learning and earning potential. Although the beauty profession is going through a severe shakedown period, quality career minded professionals will be in high demand.

Studies continue to show that only 5% of all people in all walks of life and occupations will succeed; the other 95% will be looking for excuses to fail. Tough times always separate winners from losers, but tough times always present fantastic opportunities for those well informed and willing to take advantage of these opportunities. Today’s savvy consumer and top salons are crying out for quality hairdressers who truly want to exceed client expectations. If you work hard, develop a strong desire towards continuing education, keep a positive attitude, gain experience, develop your people and communication skills, create value in yourself, and persevere, you will be able to create a demand for your services.

23. Is a hairdressing career a good profession to enter?

Potentially, a hairdressing career can offer unlimited opportunities for those willing to maximize their full learning and earning potential.

A hairdressing career can be exciting, fulfilling, challenging, and financially rewarding provided you receive the proper training, guidance, and education in the early stages of your development. Forming positive attitudes and strong work habits is critical in developing a successful hairdressing career. Unlike college, where the entrance standards are highly competitive and require a heavy investment in time and money, a hairdressing career can be a shortcut to financial security. Once you are able to gain valuable experience, create value in your skills, and create a demand for your services, your earning potential can be unlimited. The sky’s the limit. An outstanding hairdresser will never be out of a job.

In closing….

I have tried to offer some suggestions above that will help you make informed decisions about developing a successful hairdressing career.  Seek out other peoples opinions then make the decision that is right for you.  As you proceed on your journey to the next level; I urge you to continue to seek self-improvement and set higher and higher standards for yourself.  The higher your standards the higher your rewards.  The industry needs you; you represent the future and new breed of professional.  As one colleague to another, welcome to the beauty profession.

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