From the beauty salon on the corner to gorgeous tropical beach photo shoots, there are countless career opportunities in this $44 billion per year industry. Just think of it, every movie set, magazine spread, commercial, and tv show employs professionals in the hair and make-up community. If you are considering a career in beauty, here's some straight answers on the pros and cons.
Stylist: To become a stylist, you can attend vocational schooling while still in high school and be ready to hit the ground running upon graduation! If you are considering a career change, take time to visit all the schools in your area, as some are promoted by product companies such as Paul Mitchell or Aveda. Many offer scholarships or grants, so be sure to check. Depending on your state, schooling is approximately 1500 hours, with a state board exam upon completion.
PROs: Even as a student, you are able to purchase professional products at cost! You'll have an easy time building a clientele since everyone you know requires hair service.
CONs: Even though you have earned your license when you pass your exam, many salons these days require you to apprentice, so be patient, the salon experience is worth it! A starting stylist works nights and weekends to be available for walk-ins and stylist overflow - this is your chance to do blow-outs for veteran stylists and get to know the salon clientele.
Educator: This is an in-depth opportunity to learn the technology, chemistry & marketing of a specific product brand, such as Matrix, Tigi, etc. A license is required for these positions, and it is helpful to work in a salon that uses the brand. As an educator, you attend company sponsored training so that you can train other salons on the proper usage and seasonal trends offered by the line.
PROs: You will learn everything you ever wanted to know about not only the line you work for but all its competitors. If you love to travel, educators are needed at trade & fashion shows. With enough experience, you'll be onstage demonstrating your expertise in front of large audiences. Translation ~ famous!
CONs: This is a physically demanding position. Lugging around all your supplies and jet-setting between shows is exhausting!
Make-up Artist: Oh the possibilities are endless! One of the easiest ways to get your foot in the door is to apply for a position in cosmetics at a department store. These positions do not require a beauty license, and the store will coordinate your training with the company you represent. From here, you can free-lance weddings or photographers and build your own business.
PROs: You'll have a make-up arsenal to be envied by all! Creative freedom abounds, so you get to use your imagination.
CONs: For the best training, you will have to pay, but traveling to LA to take a class at Fred Segal is worth the investment! Unconventional hours (I've started bridal parties at 6:30 am) and unusual locations. I once did a photo shoot on a beach that was strewn with litter and a hypodermic needle.
Sales and Marketing: Not sure you want to do the hands-on? You can still learn comprehensive product information and reap the rewards of working for beauty giants. Most of these positions require degrees. As an outside sales rep, you will get to meet salon owners and department managers through out your territory and really see what goes on in the financial end of beauty.
PRO's: If you are an organized self-starter, you'll be out seeing clients instead of going to the same place every day. There is much room for advancement ~ you can become a regional-national sales rep, or manage a sales team. Large earnings potential!
CONs: This is a very competitive position and it takes time to develop a relationship with your clients. Facing rejection is tough on the self-esteem, so you'll need determination and confidance.
As an 18 year veteran of this exciting community, I have held all of these positions, finding each of them rewarding at various stages of my career. There's no shame in starting at the shampoo bowl, because with the right focus, you'll be the next go-to expert!