Entry Level Cosmetology Jobs

New graduates of cosmetology schools do not usually have too much trouble finding their first job, although they might not make a lot of money right away, because they are usually paid a commission based upon the amount of work they do, and new graduates do not have an established clientele. For this reason, some new graduates may choose to work in a high traffic salon in a shopping mall or busy area, may accept a small guaranteed salary with the option of working on a commission basis later, take on a second job to supplement their income until they can make a living solely as a hairdresser, or choose to work as an assistant to an established cosmetologist in a high-end metropolitan salon.

Cosmetologist Working on Woman's Face at Spa

Sometimes referred to as “shampoo girls,” assistants usually work under the direction of a senior stylist for minimum wage and/or tips, performing shampoos, applying hair color and wrapping and rinsing perms. Being an assistant is hard work of a somewhat “subservient” nature, but it is a good way to get on the job training with a highly talented cosmetologist.

If a new cosmetologist wants to gain experience specifically in an up-scale salon, becoming an assistant is a good way to do so. An established cosmetologist often cannot fit new clients into her schedule unless she takes on an assistant to help her. With an assistant on-board, she can consult with a hair color client, decide upon a formula, send the assistant to the dispensary to mix the color to her specifications and also apply the color to the client’s hair (under her direction); meanwhile she can consult with another client and perhaps perform a haircut or two while the color is processing. With the help of an assistant, the busy cosmetologist can fit in more clients, perform more services, and make more money, while the assistant learns the nuts and bolts of the business, and gets valuable practical experience and a few tips along the way. Some clients will invariably prefer the assistant to the senior stylist, and an inexperienced hairdresser can not only get exposure but also build her own clientele this way.

Another way for a recent graduate to gain salon experience is to work as a receptionist.

Receptionists in a salon do much more than answer the phone; they routinely greet customers, make appointments, re-stock the retail product shelves, clean the salon, help launder the towels, sweep hair clippings after a haircut, and if they are licensed, they can perform a shampoo or rinse a permanent wave or hair color for a busy co-worker. Receptionists are typically paid an hourly wage and also receive tips.

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