What Are Common Hair Salon Jobs?

Hairdresser working in hair salon jobs

Furthering your cosmetology education by training as a hair stylist can open a lot of career opportunities, and among those are hair salon jobs. There are a variety of salons that could use your specific talents and enthusiasm in their salon. Your personal interests can help drive your education and allow you to find a specialization.

The kind of job that you get after you have been fully trained and certified will depend on two things: your personal ambition and the salon that you work in. Once you know what you want, you can begin to look for more specific opportunities. Here are some of the choices you will have once you are ready to begin looking for hair salon jobs.

Hair Salon Job #1: Hairstylist

The term “hairstylist” is often used as a blanket term for anyone who works in a salon or with hair. Even though it is used as a catch-all term for professionals in the hair industry, a hairstylist actually has a very specific job. They are tasked with the shape and the texture part of the salon experience. A “hairstylist” isn’t just a term, it is a job that has a special and important role on the salon team. If styling hair is something you are passionate about, here are some of the things most salons will require of your role.

Hair Cutting

Cutting hair is a lot more involved than simply putting scissors to hair. You have to take into account the texture of the hair and how it will lay, the way the cut will affect the way the client’s hair color presents, as well as considering things like how the new cut will frame your client’s face. This is a very big part of a hairstylist’s job that should be taken seriously, even if your client just wants a trim.

Hair Texture

Changing the texture of hair typically involves either special chemicals or certain kinds of heat. It may be that your client has curly or kinky hair that they want to have relaxed. Natural hair requires a special eye to detail and an understanding of different hair textures.

On the other hand, your client may want to add texture to their hair. For example, a client may want a perm that boosts their volume. There are a plethora of texture and movement options your client may want from their hair.

Hair Style Design

A client may come to you in need of having their hair done for a special occasion. Typically, these are events such as award ceremonies, weddings, proms and holiday parties. Styling a client’s hair for an important or special moment in their life is a significant task. For that reason, hair design requires great focus and attention to detail when styling hair.

Hair Salon Job #2: Shampoo Assistant

This is a salon jobs that is too often misrepresented in the media and within the industry as being menial or unimportant. Often times a shampoo assistant is portrayed as a person working their way into another job at a salon. It is also sometimes offered as a stepping-stone job that will lead to something else. What we so often fail to see is the important place that a shampoo assistant has in the functioning of a salon. Here are just a few of the many reasons that a talented shampoo assistant should never be taken for granted.

Initial Assessment

A shampoo assistant is the first person to get up close and personal with the client’s scalp and hair. This allows the shampoo assistant to give the stylist or colorist a heads up if they see anything that could potentially be an issue in either department. Shampoo assistants help the other members of the salon team start with a clean canvas and a little bit of insight into the condition of their client’s hair before getting started.


Shampoo assistants are also in a unique position for making recommendations. Being up close and personal with a client’s hair lets them know the extent of any damage that has been done by personal care. After they have determined the areas that need improvement, they can make suggestions about products, treatments, or styles that might help provide style solutions and increase hair health.

Personal Connection

This part of the process is a bit more isolated than the rest in many cases. Typically, a client will be taken to a washing area that is more removed from the salon hustle and bustle. This may be the time that a client feels comfortable striking up a conversation or bringing up a sensitive hair topic they may not feel comfortable addressing with other professionals elsewhere in the process.

Hair Salon Job #3: Colorist

Stylists are typically thought of as a one-stop-shop for all hair needs. However, salons are increasingly becoming more specialized due to high customer demand and a desire for quality and focus at every step in the styling process. Coloring a client’s hair is a process that can be difficult, time consuming, and requires attention to detail. If being a colorist sounds like a salon job you might be interested in, here are just a few of the things that you will need to have mastered to become a success.

Hair Color Transition

Getting one or more colors to seamlessly transition into one another is something that requires skill. Not only do you have to ensure the right color gradation you also have to know how the chosen colors blend and mix together. You may even be asked to transition natural hair color into colorful tips.

Hair Color Definition

While there are some customers who want a smooth transition of color like an ombre fade, there are also customers who like their colors to be segmented and separate. This helps create bold lines of color separation and usually involves a greater degree of color saturation than a transition or a blend.

Hair Color Blending

Blending a color into your natural hair color using lowlights and highlights is another task required of a salon’s colorist. Sometimes a complete overhaul can be easier than trying to blend a color into what is already there. For this process you will need to pay close attention for the sake of uniformity.

Hair Color Matching

Touching up roots and ends may seem like the boring part of a colorists job. What you may not know is that it takes an incredible amount of skill to synthetically match a color that is already there. Particularly if you were not the one to do the original work. Color matching takes a sharp eye and extensive color mixing knowledge.

Hair Salon Job #4: Apprentice

A lot of stylist jump right in with both feet as soon as they have their education and head straight for a styling or coloring job in the nearest salon. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to get started right away. However, there are some high-end job opportunities and more niche fields that require an apprenticeship or some experience before you can be considered for a position. It may not seem like the most glamorous way to begin your hairstylist career, but it could end up being the smartest way, depending on what you want. Here are some of the reasons that an apprenticeship is something to consider.

Gain Experience as an Apprentice

Having the opportunity to train in the salon you want to work at and among the people you want to work with can give you a lower-pressure environment to learn more about the field and try on a few different hats. It also gives you a more personal opportunity to make a good impression that goes much further than traditional applicants.

Build Your Resume

Even if you end up with a short career in the salon you apprentice at, you will still have gained valuable experience that you can take somewhere else. Any experience will help you become more confident and comfortable in your work, even if your apprenticeship doesn’t lead to your dream job.

Shape Your Goals

Working in a salon on an apprentice level can give you amazing insights into the parts of the job you like and the parts that you hope to avoid in the future. It allows you to try out new things in a more controlled environment and can help you get a good look at all of the positions that make a salon run smoothly.

Hair Salon Job #5: Salon Manager

To understand the business side of how a salon works it is first helpful to understand how the process of a salon works. That is why many people who have the goal of owning or running a salon often receive their education in cosmetology as part of their training. If you don’t know how something works, you are going to have a hard time running it and an even harder time fixing it when things don’t go as planned. Let’s take a look at a few different ways you could use your new certification to help you run a hair salon.

Traditional Management

Managing salon operations is very important job. Not only do you have to work with the cosmetologists, you also have to communicate with vendors, interact with other professionals in the industry, deal with customer grievances, and in many cases do a majority of the bookkeeping. Your work and training will help inform your managerial decisions and allow you to better smooth out whatever comes your way.

Goals of Ownership

It could be that your end goal is to own your very own salon. A salon owner has a tremendous amount of responsibility that should be taken very seriously. The owner makes the big picture decisions that can put a salon on the map or run it right into the ground. Knowing the industry through training and experience will help give you a leg up if salon ownership is the end ambition.

Solo Entrepreneur

Striking out on your own does not mean the same thing that it did before the age of the internet. Nowadays being the master of your own destiny is as easy as throwing up a website and doing some social media promotion. Being your own boss does come with a lot of responsibility, though. There isn’t really anyone to blame for mistakes and oversights when you are your only employee.

Hair Salon Job #6: Product Specialist

Product specialists are typically hired in salons that have product/brand endorsement deals or some kind of attached retail area connected to the salon. Specialists are much different than cosmetic retail professionals and have some key differences in terms of the duties they perform. Someone in a typical sales job would be helpful in asking a customer if they were looking for anything, help them find it, and then ring them up. A specialist is often approached with a problem or issue that needs a solution. This is where the training comes in handy. When a client comes to a specialist, they expect that any recommendations are accurate and well informed. Here are some of the ways that product specialists are used within the industry.

Sales and Retail

Adding a product specialist to a sales or retail team can go a long way to boost credibility in the public eye. A product specialist might also be able to help educate a general sales team in ways that will make them more effective and efficient in their salon and sales work.


Having someone on the team who is familiar with the products and brands the salon represents can be very valuable in a marketing sense. Someone who can comfortably and confidently answer product questions and address brand concerns will help tremendously in dealing with the media and marketing campaigns the salon may develop. Specialists are also helpful in choosing reputable, reliable brands to represent.

With so many different paths to choose from, getting a salon job might just be the career adventure you’ve been waiting for.

Want to Learn More?

Did learning about the jobs available at a hair salon interest you? Need to get your undergraduate certificate in cosmetology? At Minnesota School of Cosmetology, we are dedicated to helping our Cosmetology program students develop a solid foundation and a flair for style through hands-on training in basic and advanced industry techniques. You will learn how to cut, color and style hair, give manicures and pedicures, provide spa treatments and perform various skin care techniques from industry-experienced instructors in a professional salon setting. We keep our class sizes small to make sure you get the individualized instruction you need and attention you deserve. You will graduate with everything you need to be a versatile artist in an exciting industry, including a cosmetology diploma from a respected college.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a hairstylist and starting a rewarding career in the beauty industry.

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