A beautician, hairdresser, or hairstylist, is an informal reference to a cosmetologist, or a person who has trained to work in a salon. To become a beautician, technical training and licensing is required. Upon licensing, a beautician can work in a salon -- cutting, styling, and chemically altering hair, as well as performing manicures and facials.
Training for cosmetology takes place at either a vocational school during the last two years of high school or after high school at a beauty school or college. Cosmetology is not typically a course offered at technical colleges and other universities, but rather conducted at independent schools. Depending on course enrollment, training can be completed in as little as one year or may take up to two. Areas of study include anatomy of the head, face, and neck, as well as the hands, study of certain types of skin and nail diseases and conditions, as well as the practical aspects of various salon services and prevention of infection through sanitation methods.
Upon completion of the required number of education hours, state board testing for licensing is required to become a beautician. An exam is then administered that tests the applicant’s knowledge of the field through a written exam and a practical exam. Once the applicant has passed the exam, a license is granted, which must be renewed at specified intervals through proof of continuing education credits.
A licensed beautician can practice some or all of the practical applications learned in school. Many just perform hair services, such as cutting, coloring, and perming, however, some may also perform additional services. In large, the type of work a beautician performs will depend on the salon in which they work. Some salons are full-service, offering everything from facials and waxing to manicures and pedicures in addition to hair. Other salons offer hair cutting and styling only.
To become a beautician is to commit to a sometimes physically demanding job, requiring standing for extended periods of time if not the entire day. When starting out, a beautician can expect to have to work hard to woo new clients, so as to build a following. With time, building a clientele that will follow their hairstylist from salon to salon is important. A beautician may change salons several times in the course of her career, either to expand their services, make more money, or both. Pay structure can range from a percentage of total sales to an hourly rate combined with tips, or may be total sales minus rent for booth space depending on the salon.
Once a person has decided to become a beautician, she should investigate cosmetology schools near them and compare the cost and reputation for preparing for state board licensing. Licensing requirements may vary from state to state, so be sure to get working cosmetologist’s opinions on local schools before enrolling.