If you’re a new hairstylist or interested in becoming one, the first thing you should know is that your salary will vary widely depending on a number of factors. Anything from the type of salon you work at to your skill level to the area you work in can have an effect on how much money you take home at the end of the day.
This may sound confusing at first, but don’t worry. We’re here to help you understand the average salary that a hairstylist can make, and then give you some extra tips on increasing your salary as a hairstylist until you are working the high-paying dream job you’ve always desired.
- The Average Hairstylist Salary
- Payment Structures Available for Hairstylists
- Should You Accept a Job As a Stylist Assistant?
- Is It Possible to Make $100k or More As a Hairstylist?
- Tips for Increasing Your Hairstylist Salary
- Building Your Dream Career
The Average Hairstylist Salary
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary a hairstylist can expect is $27,630 per year. This breaks down to approximately $13.28 per hour based on a 40-hour workweek.
This may not seem like much, but keep in mind that this number does vary depending on where you are working, how new you are to the profession, and how much extra you are earning in the form of tips and commission from product sales.
You can look at this number as sort of the minimum you should be making as a hairstylist while understanding that there are many opportunities to grow your salary from that point.
Payment Structures Available for Hairstylists
When discussing how much you may be able to get paid as a hairstylist, it is important for you to understand the different payment structures you may come in contact with.
Hourly payment will typically be the lowest type of payment structure out there. Hourly payment is often found in commercial salons (think ones that can be found in a mall) that focus on client volume rather than returning customers and high-end services.
It can be helpful to start out with hourly pay and build up your skills in both hairstyling and in communicating with customers, but you may not want to bank your entire career on an hourly rate. It is easy to get burnt out in an environment like this with not a lot of salary to show for it.
Being paid on commission is a highly popular way for hairstylists to maximize their income and build experience with organizing their own services. In a commission pay structure, you will be hired by a salon and provided with an area to work in.
Clients will come to see you at that salon, and you will pay a percentage of every service (typically between 40 and 60 percent) to the salon, keeping the rest.
It is common for hairstylists working on commission to have a base salary, with the revenue from their commission and product sales being added on top of it. Working on commission is a great way to build up a loyal client base and get familiar with running your own business while not having to worry about the technical things, such as self-employment taxes and benefits, as the salon that hired you will take care of this.
Another popular payment structure, chair or booth rental is the most independent way for a hairstylist to work. This type of work involves the stylist renting out an area in the salon and then providing their services from there.
You will be expected to pay rent to the salon owner every month and will need to provide all of your own tools and products, but you will receive 100 percent of the revenue from your services.
Chair rental allows you to completely set your own service prices and schedule, but it can be a little more stressful in terms of running your own business. You will be responsible for rent every month regardless of how much money you make, and you will need consistent regular clientele in order to support your business and keep income flowing.
Commission vs. Chair Rental
The biggest decision that most hairstylists will face is deciding between the commission and chair rental payment structure. As we discussed above, there are pros and cons with each, so you should make sure to fully understand the benefits and disadvantages before making a final decision.
You can read more about the in-depth pros and cons here.
Should You Accept a Job As a Stylist Assistant?
Oftentimes, upper-level salons will offer new hairstylists the opportunity of starting out as a stylist assistant before working their way up to a full-fledged hairstylist in the salon. Depending on your career goals, this can be a good thing to do.
If you want to make serious money as a hairstylist, you will likely need to work at a more upscale salon or possess your own salon. Starting out at a lower-end salon and trying to work your way up to eventually getting a position as a stylist in a higher-end salon can take more time than starting out as a stylist assistant and working your way up in the same higher-end salon.
That being said, if you do choose to take a position as a stylist assistant, you should make sure that the salon does have a career track that will allow you to grow in the position. Typically, it will take around 2 years for you to work your way up from a position like this.
You can read more about the skills necessary for a stylist assistant in this article.
Is It Possible to Make $100k or More As a Hairstylist?
With all this talk of high-paying salaries, you may be wondering if it is possible for you to make $100k or more working as a hairstylist. While this is not the most common pay rate, it is possible to achieve with hard work and a focused plan.
If you are interested in seeing what it would take for you to earn $100k a year in terms of clients, tips, and commissions, you can use this helpful hairstylist revenue calculator.
Tips for Increasing Your Hairstylist Salary
These pro tips can help you start to scale up your salary as a hairstylist and set you on the right track towards your career goals.
Increase Your Efficiency
As you become more skilled as a hairstylist, you will have a better sense of how long it takes you to perform certain tasks like cutting, coloring, and styling hair. Once you have a good idea of the time limits of these services, you can begin to double book yourself, increasing your overall efficiency and productivity.
Doing this will allow you to make use of any idle time during your day and see more clients, which is a recipe for more money overall. Just make sure that if you do this, you have a good sense of how long it takes you to perform essential tasks and that the quality of your services won’t suffer for it.
Keep Up Your Education
Even if you’ve completed a course in hairstyling or cosmetology and received your license, you will still need to keep up regular education.
Constantly seeking out advanced courses to improve your skills and keeping up to date with the latest trends will help you build a skill base that clients will desire. You will be able to provide better services and charge more for them in the long run.
Maintain Client Relationships
If you’ve built up a large client base, it is likely impossible to memorize the important facts about each of them that help you to maintain a friendly relationship. However, because a client relationship is essential to keeping loyal customers, you may want to write down a few facts about each client in a notebook and reference it before your appointments.
This will allow you to keep up with all of your clients and maintain the friendly client relationships that make your clients feel taken care of, keeping them coming back to you time after time.
Once you’ve established yourself in a salon, you should make sure you dedicate some time to working on a social media profile for your services. Instagram is the most popular way to do this, but Facebook and Twitter may also help.
By making a professional-looking social media profile and adding pictures of your services on a regular basis, you may be able to bring in more customers, raising your salary. You can also use the profiles as a sort of digital portfolio, which is essential for any professional hairstylist to have available.
Set Realistic Goals
When trying to scale up your career and your income, you should make sure to set realistic goals. This means breaking down your overall goal (i.e., “I want to make $100k”) into smaller, more attainable goals (i.e., “I need an extra 3 clients every week to raise my income”).
Building up your career through small goals like this will help you feel motivated and allow you to get better organized about how you use your time.
Always Maintain Professionalism
As a hairstylist, you are selling your services and your skills as your brand. You should strive to look the part as well, and don’t get too comfortable with your current client base, showing up to work either sloppily dressed or without the air of professionalism. Things like this can put current clients off and stop you from gaining new ones.
You should always look the part of a professional hairstylist (this doesn’t mean going all out on designer clothes, but it does mean being clean and put together), and always interact with clients in a professional and friendly manner.
Building Your Dream Career
While the average pay of a hairstylist isn’t the highest in the world, there is plenty of room for improvement and scaling up your income.
Once you understand the different payment structures available to you and choose the direction you want your career to move in, you can begin working towards building up your hairstyling business, gaining loyal clients, and obtaining the high-paying dream career you’ve always wanted.