Figuring out the next steps after cosmetology school is something we all face. All of a sudden, we have a career defining decision to make and it can feel very daunting. Concerns about earning a viable income, lack of confidence over skillset…and the worst, fear of ruining someone's hair, are all REAL! But these feelings are normal, so take a deep breath. Here are some steps to help you discover a path that best suits you.
Being a cosmetologist allows us to work in so many ways. We can build a clientele in a salon, be a salon owner or manager, specialize in hair cutting or coloring, waxing, aesthetics, makeup, session styling, wig making, TV/film/theater work, runway styling and teaching. There are so many options, but one thing is for sure: the more experience you have in sharpening your skillset, the more your confidence will grow and ready you for opportunities you didn't even know existed.
- Secure a good apprenticeship, one that will help you learn all aspects of salon life. Understanding how the front desk works is just as important as practicing techniques. And find out if they offer weekly or monthly classes with hands-on opportunities or model days. A salon will interview to see if you match their needs, and in turn, you should see if they meet yours. Apprentice programs are not one size fits all. Ask questions and be open to suggestions.
- Focus on your ROI - your return is only as good as your investment. Have patience with yourself and how fast things happen. There’s no fast track to experience other than the pace you set for yourself. Practicing every day is the only way to gain advancement.
- Be open and embrace multiple ways of learning and practicing. Cosmetology school provides the education needed to obtain a professional license and a foundation, but it doesn’t cover everything you need to know in the small amount of time you are a student there.
- Look for advanced training academies that offer focused training. Classes can be anywhere from one week to multiple weeks and usually charge a fee. They are great for someone who is looking to extend their knowledge beyond the daily work of salon life.
- Find a social media mentor and start building a social following while still in school. A few good images of models and/or mannequins will be valuable while interviewing for a job, as well as let guests know your style and that you’re building a business.
- Volunteer and network - see what events are happening, fashion shows or photoshoots and get involved. It will build your skillset, gain exposure for you and your brand, and you may even end up with some positive press coverage or professional images for social media. Not to mention, it’s a lot of fun.
- Look the part. We work in an industry that allows us to help others express who they are, so do the same for yourself.
- Make a financial plan. Speak with a financial and tax advisor. They can help you plan for present and future needs. Nothing kills creativity faster than financial stress, but with a good plan it can be less of an issue.
- Avoid physical and mental fatigue by investing in ergonomically designed tools that allow you to work more efficiently with less stress on your body.
Most of all, realize that your career is a journey with twists, turns and discovery. Keep your mind engaged and heart open. Stay inspired through continuous education and invest in your future.
I have been a salon stylist, career long educator, director of education, artistic and creative director, session stylist, makeup and hair artist for TV/film/theater, published, and still enjoy hair competitions. All the while I’ve raised a family and more. I can honestly say I have never had a boring day in my career and am grateful that my profession has so many avenues to explore.
Embrace this time of transition with excitement, for you will make a difference in people's lives and they will make a difference in yours.
About the Author: Teresa Romero is the Artistic Director for Sam Villa. Throughout her career, she has worked in all facets of the beauty industry with a special passion for education. Follow Romero on Instagram @_teresa_romero.
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