How to Become a Hairstylist [8 Helpful Steps]

Jul 27, 2021

There aren’t many people out there who have the power to make someone feel confident and beautiful in just an hour or so, but a hairstylist does! Whether you’ve always loved working with hair or are interested in developing new skills, hair styling can be a fun, lucrative way to practice your artistic talents. The only question now is how to get started!

What’s the best way to become a hairstylist?

If you choose to become a hairstylist, you want to join the profession with experience and education on your side. Everyone’s path will be a little different, but there are a few important elements that should stay the same person to person.

Study Cosmetology at a technical college

There is a huge range of beauty schools you can attend, depending on your location, your budget, and your preferences. If you live here in Chattanooga, learn more about Chattanooga College’s program here. It’s very important to make sure the school you want to attend is recognized and approved by the state you want to work in. If your school and your state’s qualifications don’t line up, you could end up finishing school without becoming certified. Avoid that misstep early on!

What comes after school?

For most people, certification comes after graduation. With your beauty school diploma in hand, you’ll be responsible for taking whatever exam your state requires. In some states this might be a written exam, and in others it might be a practical one where you’re asked to show your styling abilities. Once you’ve passed your test (and assuming you’re 16 or older) you’re ready to work in your state of choice! To learn more about Tennessee requirements, look here. Several states also offer reciprocity, so keep an eye out for that; you’re probably qualified to work in more states than you realized.

Landing your first job

At this point, you’re ready and waiting to officially become a hairstylist. Many beauty school students worked in a salon for experience during their studies, and these salons are often willing to take on students who have proven their abilities and work ethic. Don’t be discouraged if this path doesn’t work out for you! Applying to work at various salons offers a lot of freedom of choice, and can be a great experience as you learn more about the industry and what salons are looking for. Make sure to emphasize your individual abilities in interviews, whether it’s coloring, cutting, or simply reliable cleaning and sanitation skills.

What are a hairstylist’s primary responsibilities?

Before committing to taking all the steps it takes to become a certified hairstylist, it’s naturally important to understand the ins and outs of the job. You’ll be cutting people’s hair, but what else? Hairstyling is a diverse occupation with a lot to keep in mind! Once you start working, you’ll know that your job changes every day, and so will your responsibilities. Listed below are just a few.

Hair of all kinds

This won’t come as a surprise, but every hairstylist shampoos, cuts, styles, colors, curls, and straightens hair. Any hairstyle you’ve seen someone else wearing—from bright colors to curls, shaved patterns to A-lines—you’ll be responsible for creating on someone someday! Keeping up on current hair trends is a great way to keep your styling creativity sharp and ensure a good understanding of your future customers.

Professional advice

Another reason to stay up on your current trends and styles is that people who sit in your chair are going to want your advice. You’ll be asked to give your input on what colors and styles will look best on your customers. The more experience you have and the more time you’ve put into learning about colors, complexions, and face shapes, the better the advice you’ll be able to give. As a hairstylist, you hold a position of trust in many people’s lives. Use it well!


Depending on what style of salon you work at, you might be responsible for shaving beards and giving facials. This part of the job is satisfying for many people since it helps others relax and leaves their faces feeling fresh and new.

Becoming a hairstylist can be an exciting career move that has you interacting with all kinds of people and helping them look and feel their best. This is a job that’s accessible for anyone who’s willing to put in the work and cares about helping other people! There are reliable online resources to help you get started on your hairstylist career path, so you can get started now in a career you’re passionate about.


Looking for even MORE info about becoming a cosmetologist? Check out our Ultimate Guide: How to Become a Cosmetologist.


Also, did you know you can study cosmetology and become a hairstylist in just 1 year at Chattanooga College? Get unstuck and find creativity, independence, and steady pay in your new career. Learn more here.