Working as a Hair Stylist Assistant & Hiring Salon Associates

Working as a Hair Stylist Assistant & Hiring Salon Associates

Working as a hair stylist assistant is one of the best choices a newer stylist can make! There is no better way to launch a successful career in hair than by learning from experienced stylists, how to thrive in a salon.

Hi there, my name is Susan Wos. I help new hair stylists find salon assistant jobs and navigate salon careers. I also provide guidance to salon owners and stylists hiring for assistants in their salons.

There are a ton of different assistant programs and salon philosophies out there. Some are very structured, and some are a bit more casual.

In this blog, I will give new hair stylists ideas on how to choose the right assisting program and salon. I will also give those who are considering hiring assistants, a few tips on how to make your program successful.

If you are looking for additional assistant templates or help in creating a salon associate program, make sure to check out our list of consultants, coaches and mentors for a comprehensive list of people who help salons.

What does working as a hair salon assistant mean?

Working as a hair salon assistant means you are assigned a stylist or stylists to be working with directly, in a salon of your choice. Sometimes, you will only be mentored by one hairdresser, and some salons assign assistants to several stylists.

One isn’t better than the other, it’s a matter of which salon you choose to work in and what their program entails. Regardless of the salon you end up choosing, try to soak in as much knowledge as you can from all of the professional stylists working in the salon.

What is a hair stylist assistant?

A hair stylist assistant, or salon assistant, works with a lead stylist with their daily tasks and clientele. This may include learning new techniques, getting tips on interpersonal skills with clients, gathering supplies for the lead stylists client services, mixing hair color, shampooing, sanitation duties, and general cleaning of the stylist’s station and the salon. Assistants also greet clients, prepare them for their appointment and schedule future appointments.

What is a salon associate?

A salon associate is the entry-level position for stylists who have recently graduated cosmetology school. Depending on the salon you are working in you may be an associate for the entire salon, a few stylists, or one senior level stylist.

You can expect to be supporting just one stylist or a team of stylists, helping with general salon upkeep, and learning how to become a confident and capable hair stylist. Associate stylists receive one on one education and guidance from mentors, educators, and senior-level stylists.

Hair Stylist Assistant Duties and Responsibilities- What an Assistant Does in a Salon

A hair stylist assistant’s responsibilities and duties vary widely and are specific to the salon and program you choose. It is important to understand what is expected of you as an assistant, how long the program is, and what you will be responsible for.

What does an assistant do in a salon?

Typical hair stylist assistant duties and responsibilities are:

  1. Assisting the salon and you will greet clients coming in to receive services.
  2. Preparing clients for hair services- directing them to change clothes, draping clients or shampooing and applying hair treatments in preparation for chemical services.
  3. Watching and listening as a senior stylist performs hair services.
  4. Apply color, wrap perms or blow drying senior stylist’s clients.
  5. Learning new skills, techniques, color formulations, how to use tools and how to talk to clients.
  6. Being tested on what you have learned.
  7. Meeting standards and skills required by the salon.
  8. Building clientele and serving your own customers, part time.
  9. Front desk duties such as checking clients out, scheduling future appointments, retail sales and ensuring inventory reports are accurate.
  10. Cleaning, sanitation and maintaining state board requirements.
the importance of being mentored in a salon

Hair Stylist Assistant Education Requirements- Cosmetology School Details

In order to be a hairstylist assistant, in most states you will need to be either enrolled in a cosmetology school, or have graduated from a cosmetology program. Each state and providence has different required hours, skills and knowledge to be considered for a hairstylist assistant job. In order to be considered for a cosmetology program you need to have a GED or have completed your high school education.

What do you need to be a styling assistant?

To be a styling assistant you must meet the cosmetology state board requirements needed to perform services in a salon. These requirements differ, depending on where you live. Check with the state board in your area to meet the requirements to work as a styling assistant.

Assisting Stylists

So, you found a salon to work in and now you are wondering what to expect when assisting stylists! Not all programs and stylists are created equal…

Your job as an assistant is to learn, help stylists and grow in a salon career. Your job is not to become a slave or do things that are shady, unethical or illegal.

You should be paid by the hour and will be assisting a hair stylist with their clientele. If you aren’t getting the experience you need to become a great hairstylist after a few months, it may be time to look for a new salon to work in.

I have yet to find a salon or hair stylist who is perfect and does everything right. Get the most out of your program and experience and know everyone is flawed in the beauty industry.

Salon Assistant Abuse

If you aren’t being treated with respect or given opportunities to learn from seasoned beauty professionals, you may want to move on. Hazing, unfair treatment or illegal practices happens in salons.

A great assistant experience is where you are being mentored and given the education needed to thrive in a hair career. If there isn’t a clear cut end to the program or benchmarks of achievement, you may be in a situation where you are being taken advantage of.

being taken advantage of working in a salon

How long is a hair stylist assistant program?

A hair stylist assistant program can be anywhere from 1 month to 3 years long. Salons have a wide variety of program requirements, check with each salon before agreeing to work for them to understand how long the program will take.

Salon assisting programs can also be dependent on your personal growth and achievement. Some salons will accelerate your program if you already have the skills in place to meet their standards. Other salons have specific time and service requirements to meet before moving to a full time stylist position.

Support Advanced Salon Education- Hire a Hair Stylist Assistant

Hiring hair stylist assistants is a rewarding way to grow your business! Whether you are a large salon that needs help and employees or an individual stylist with a desire to mentor, having someone assist you is the perfect way to grow.

There is a significant lack of great assistant programs and mentorship opportunities in the salon industry. Creating a job for a newer stylist interested in achievement fulfills a huge need in the beauty industry.

There isn’t one “right way” to provide hairstylist training. The best way to create and implement a stylist training program is to outline everything you feel is important to know to have a successful career as a hair stylist.

Programs should evolve and change to meet trends and be adapted to include things you may discover along the way.

What makes a great salon assistant program?

What makes a great salon assistant program is a comprehensive training program that includes everything a stylist needs to be successful. Things to include in a salon assistant program are:

  1. Basic haircutting, coloring, services, consultation and interpersonal skills.
  2. Advanced haircutting, coloring, hair treatments, services, tools and client communication skills.
  3. Chemical and technical aspects of products used in the salon.
  4. Effective client consultations.
  5. Color formulations and education on the salon’s preferred color lines.
  6. Client note taking and documenting services performed.
  7. Why you use certain products over others- why and when to try different hair products.
  8. How to get new salon clients.
  9. Timeless techniques and skills.
  10. Trendy techniques, styles and skills.
  11. A clear end to the assisting program with benchmarks of achievement along the way.
  12. The ability to service clients while learning in jobs.
  13. Money management skills.
  14. Dealing with difficult clients and the problems many salons face.
  15. Upselling, cross selling and retail sales.

What kind of education are you going to provide?

Depending on who sits in your chair, a typical work day varies widely from salon to salon. You have likely attracted a new stylist who is interested in your particular services and skills.

While there is a ton of free and paid online education for hair stylists available, nothing beats the hands on experience. Most salons have a mixture of online training and in person skill building programs.

Stylist skills assessment first

Each stylist possesses different communication and technical skills. Some may lack the physical stamina needed to stand all day or concentrate on learning new techniques.

Most salons conduct a stylist assessment before starting a new job in your business. This helps to either speed up areas where the stylist is already proficient, or create systems for where education is most needed.

There is no one size fits all hair stylist assistant program that is effective. The more you tweak their education to meet specific needs, the better your results and time spent will be.

Outline topics to teach your assistants and create a structured program

Once you have assessed the hair stylist’s skills, think through the beauty expertise you feel a successful stylist needs to have. Write down each topic and prioritize lessons based on the assistants existing skill sets.

Provide amazing training on hair treatments and client communication skills

Now that you have the educational outline, it’s time to teach the tools of the trade! By providing a start and end date as well as the material your program will cover, you are allowing the stylist a great opportunity to demonstrate initiative.

Think of it this way, if your beauty professionals take the time to research and practice what they will be learning, you are one step closer to having an income generating, star stylist. Break your program into sections: Relationships & communication, Skill building, Product knowledge, Practice on customers and Testing to complete your program.

Create a stopping point

There must be an end game for beauty pros. A set date may not be the best way to go.

A sign to complete an assistant’s program would be better structured if you both feel confident that they can provide quality services to customers- not by a set amount of time or a specific date.

Wean mentorship off, slowly and leave the doors open for assistants to consult you with questions. Make sure to not provide advice in front of their customers, during and after their program is complete.

guide to creating a salon assisting program

Now, let’s hire our assistants

Clients love to see seasoned beauty professionals teach new stylists. Some may not love having assistants shampoo or apply color for you.

Introduce your clientele to your new assistants, but before making the introduction, ask customers if they are OK with having assistants help with your services. The reason I suggest this is because some clients ONLY want you to do their services.

Finding Assistants

Most salons who prefer the cream of the crop cosmetology students, visit schools and create relationships with both students and  instructors. For schools who are not interested in working with you, find their students on Instagram and engage with the top student accounts.

For those who are short on time, create a hairstylist assistant job opening on salon recruitment sites.

Most Hairstylists Benefit from Having Assistants

If you don’t have the support of a large salon, you can still hire assistants. The trend for salon suite stylists, booth rental beauty pros or even an independent spa business can have assistants!

Mentor and grow a new stylist, today by creating an assisting program! For additional salon career help and advice, visit our homepage and search for the business advice you need.

I hope you have found this blog helpful, and are inspired to hire assistants. There is such a huge need for mentorship in the beauty industry by kind and talented stylists.

Yours in service,

Susan Wos