3 Valuable Facts About Hairstyling and Barbering Careers
Most Canadians would probably agree that barbers and hairdressers play an important role in their lives. Having well-groomed and stylish hair can make us feel more like ourselves. Even something as simple as a quick cut or colour often has the power to transform a person's outlook and energize his or her personality.
That's one reason why so many people continue to seek out talented hair care professionals. Beyond routine trimming, a lot of people truly need the extra services and advice that only come from skilled experts.
The large number of hair care establishments in Canada speaks to the popularity of such services. For instance, in 2012, the country was home to more than 1,630 barbershops (mostly catering to men), over 14,480 beauty salons (primarily catering to women), and nearly 8,350 unisex hair salons.*
It's clearly a big market. But succeeding in this field requires some special knowledge. Here are three of the most useful things to know if you aspire to work in this field:
1. The Roles of Barbers and Hairstylists Are a Little Different
It's true that, in some trendy establishments, the line between barber and hairstylist is starting to blur. But, overall, the main differences between these two vocations still tend to be quite noticeable. For example, even though both kinds of professionals are trained to cut hair and provide various hair treatments, they generally differ when it comes to:
- The gender of their clients—Barbershops usually have mostly male clientele, although women are often welcome. In contrast, hairstylists in beauty salons serve many people from both genders, yet tend to offer or specialize in more services for women than for men.
- Facial shaving—Barbers receive training in how to closely shave or trim men's beards and mustaches, particularly with a straight razor. Hairstylists don't typically offer that service unless they are also barbers.
- Fashionable and trendy hairstyles—Even though many barbershops are evolving, barbers generally stick to cutting or treating hair based on simple and classic styles that are quick and efficient to pull off. Hairstylists, on the other hand, usually offer a lot more variety, especially in terms of emerging and trendy styles. They also tend to have a little more creative leeway and provide more personal consultation in terms of stylistic suggestions based on their clients' facial features.
2. Having an Entrepreneurial Spirit Can Help You Succeed
A skilled barber or hairstylist can go a long way on his or her talents. Just think of some of the hair pros who've achieved celebrity status within this field. But to approach that level of success, it takes a combination of talent, dedication to your craft, and a go-getting attitude.
By cultivating the mindset of an entrepreneur, you can go well beyond the success of the average hairdresser or barbering pro. For example, the median annual pay of hair professionals in Canada is about $27,040, plus tips, for full-time work. Yet many hair care pros go on to earn more than $42,950 per year, plus tips.** And those numbers don't even tell the whole story.
It's possible to build a loyal clientele that lets you earn a lot more. In fact, some enterprising barbers and hairstylists are eventually able to generate six-figure incomes by growing their own businesses through a little creative thinking and steady pursuit of success. For many hair pros, it comes down to finding a particular niche, sometimes outside of a salon or barbershop setting. Imagine possibilities such as:
- Providing mobile hair care services to other busy professionals who will pay extra for the convenience of having you come to them
- Working with therapeutic medical programs to style wigs for cancer patients
- Offering on-site makeover services at special events like birthday parties, proms, or weddings
- Specializing in fast yet high-quality hairstyling or barbering for fashion shows or film, television, or commercial photo shoots
3. You Don't Need Much Schooling to Get Started
A lot of barbering and hairstyling programs in Canada take less than a year to complete. They can give you a leg up when looking for an employer to continue your development and begin acquiring clients. And they usually help you prepare for any certification exams you may need or want to take. (Some provinces and territories regulate barbers and hairstylists, so it's a good idea to investigate any requirements that might exist where you intend to work.)
Even in provinces that don't require any special licensing, it's still often recommended that you attain certification through an industry organization. For instance, in Western Canada, hairdressers can earn a Certificate of Qualification from BeautyCouncil. Qualified barbers and hairstylists can also earn an interprovincial Red Seal endorsement on their trade certification.
*Industry Canada, website last visited on February 23, 2015.
** Job Bank, Government of Canada, website last visited on February 23, 2015.