Hair Colorist Job Description

Hair colorists dye the hair of their clients in a salon setting. Many perform other hairdressing-related tasks, and it is the perfect career for individuals with an interest in beauty or cosmetology. Hair colorists often work long shifts and must have the physical stamina to stand for several hours at a time. The vast majority of hair colorists are women, but as the hairdressing field expands, the career path will become more popular for males.

Hair Colorist Duties and Responsibilities

The duties and tasks undertaken by a hair colorist vary from place to place and depend significantly on the needs of their employer. Even with this considered, most hair colorists are expected to do the following at some point in time:
Color Hair
As their professional title implies, most hair colorists are responsible for dyeing hair in salons. They perform the actual dyeing process, and many also shampoo and dry the hair before and after the color is added. They may add additional products to ensure the color lasts as long as possible.
Cut and Trim Hair
Before a person can have their hair colored, it may need to be cut or trimmed. Hair colorists are often tasked with trimming the hair and ensuring it looks as appealing as possible prior to giving a dye job. They may use scissors, shavers, or trimmers to do this.
Advise Customers
Before a client selects a hair color, they may solicit advice from a hair colorist. The colorist will help the client choose a color that highlights their physical appearance and meets their needs and budget. After the dye job is done, they will tell the client how to maintain the color and style at home.
Book Appointments
Hair colorists are often tasked with booking their own appointments. Customers may call in to do this or use an online booking site. Colorists must ensure they adhere to a schedule and do not book more than one customer at the same time.
Clean Up
Hair colorists must maintain a neat and clean shop if they wish to perform their craft. They are often responsible for cleaning and rinsing the area where they color hair. Some colorists, especially those who perform haircuts, will need to sweep up excess hair.

Hair Colorist Skills and Qualifications

Becoming a hair colorist requires certain skills and qualifications. In general, a high school diploma or GED is needed, but it is not totally necessary to break into the industry. Employers often seek colorists with the following skills and talents:

  • Hair coloring knowledge – hair colorists must have a broad range of knowledge about hair dyes and highlighting. They should know how these dyes affect hair and which colors work best for different hair textures and styles
  • Hairdressing – most hair colorists know how to cut and style hair into a variety of styles based upon their client’s needs and appearance. They are able to help clients choose styles that complement their appearance
  • Computer skills – hair colorists should feel comfortable using technology to book appointments, correspond with clients, and take payments
  • Communication skills – hair colorists work closely with their clients, so they should feel comfortable communicating with them and their coworkers
  • Creativity – those in this profession should be capable of visualizing hairstyles and predicting how a color will look on a particular client 

Tools of the Trade

Hair colorists often use the following tools and products to perform their job:

  • Hair dye (both permanent and nonpermanent)
  • Shampoos, conditioners, and other hair treatments
  • Scissors, hair dryers, and other hair tools

Hair Colorist Education and Training

Most hair colorists have at least a high school diploma or GED, and many enroll in licensed cosmetology programs. Most states require professional colorists and hairdressers to enroll in such programs and take a test after. These programs are offered at cosmetology schools and some community colleges, and students may need a diploma to gain entry. During the course of their career, some hair colorists continue to update their knowledge base and learn new skills.

Hair Colorist Salary and Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median hourly wage for a hair colorist is $12.33. Those in the top 10 percent earn more than $23.31 hourly, while those in the bottom 10 percent earn less than $8.95. Hair colorists employed full time at salons often have access to employment benefits such as paid time off, health coverage, and vision insurance.
The employment rate for hair colorists is expected to increase 13 percent through 2026. This rate of growth is much higher than the national average of 7 percent for all professions. As older, more experienced colorists retire, the industry will demand newer workers to replace them.

Helpful Resources

Would you like to work as a hair colorist? Find out if this job is right for you by looking at the following resources:
Professional Beauty Association – offering membership to anyone working in the cosmetology or beauty industry, PBA strives to provide the public with access to a variety of resources. The organization holds the North American Hairstyling Awards on a yearly basis, as well as a number of other conferences and community events
The Haircoloring Manual – written by Martha Fernandez, this book aims to help readers learn more about the dyeing process. It covers topics such as helping a client choose the right color and correcting haircoloring mistakes. The book is geared toward both beginners and career hair colorists
Milady Standard Haircutting System – as mentioned above, many hair colorists are expected to cut and style hair. Standard Haircutting System provides readers with 15 basic haircuts and tips on how to effortlessly perform them on others. The book is highly rated, and it aims to help beginners and more advanced hairstylists in the same manner

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