In most cases, you’ll need to go to beauty school and get your license before you can become a proper hair stylist assistant. But there are exceptions to the rule. Let’s look at how your options shake out:
Do you have to be licensed to be a salon assistant?
Every state requires hair stylist assistants to be licensed cosmetologists. In order to sit the exams to receive your hair stylist license, you’ll need to graduate from an accredited school of cosmetology, college, or another specialized trade program. The licensing exam includes both written and oral portions, and each state has different requirements when it comes to hours.
What can you do in a salon without a license?
Broadly speaking, the only hairdressing job you can do in a salon without a license is being a shampoo assistant. Some states allow apprenticeships though, meaning that beginners can take on certain kinds of assistant work instead of participating in a formal education or training program. Apprenticeships give aspiring beauty professionals an alternative way to rack up hours toward eligibility for the licensing exam.
They’re also a great opportunity to learn from the best through on-the-job training; apprentices get to be up close and personal with full-fledged stylists, shadowing them and observing their work. Check to see if your state has an apprentice hair stylist assistant program, and make sure to investigate what kind of salon jobs you’ll be allowed to do before you have your own cosmetology license.