I am a professional stylist, and I work in an independently-owned salon. I make about $13 per hour, which is about average for beginners. I am also allowed to keep my tips, which are about $25 per day. Although I have only worked in this field for slightly more than a year, I feel that I have learned much more than I did in school. Every day is an adventure, and I learn at least one new thing each day. While I find this job rewarding, there are some days I would classify as extremely challenging. I work with a wide variety of people. There have been days where I have given a baby his or her first haircut, styled a bride's hair for her wedding and spent over an hour untangling a person's hair. I think everyone assumes being a hairdresser is fun and easy, but this is not always true. Since I am on my feet most of the day, I would certainly say the job is not easy physically. I have to spend a significant amount of money on special orthopedic shoes, and my back definitely suffered until I learned how to keep it straight. Although some people never experience skin problems from the chemicals, I have. I do wear gloves, but my hands still itch.
On a level of one to 10, my job satisfaction is about eight. If all the people I dealt with were more like my favorite regular customers, my satisfaction number would be 10. There are some people who are impossible to please, and I have even had one person leave after threatening me with a lawsuit for trimming her hair too short. While such people can be frustrating to work with, I just smile and move on. Most of my customers leave happy, and that is what keeps me coming back to work with enthusiasm each day. Some days are very stressful, but I take two one-week vacations each year for refreshment. I would not switch fields for anything. Since I was a little girl, I knew this was what I wanted to do. I used to cut and style my dolls' hair, which made my mother mad. She gets free haircuts now, so everyone is happy. As soon as I graduated high school, I went to beauty school.
I have definitely learned plenty of lessons that beauty school never prepared me for. One incident I will never forget involved me calling an ambulance for a customer. I was helping a woman who had a serious respiratory issue. She was a regular there, and she normally saw another beautician. I guess she assumed I knew her situation and that she could not inhale hairspray. Since nobody told me not to use hairspray after curling and drying her hair, I used it. She wound up having breathing problems, and we had to call an ambulance. I learned to always ask people if they have any chemical sensitivities. The most important thing I have learned in this job is that I have to listen to people. I have found that just listening to people is the best way to keep them coming back. Sometimes I feel like a psychologist, but I am glad they trust me enough to share the details of their lives with me. I keep a little book at work with information about each customer, which helps me strike up conversations with them when they return.
My job is certainly never dull. I remember an incident where a man came in and asked me to dye his dog's fur for Halloween. I had to decline his request, and I gently explained that the chemicals were bad for the dog's skin. Another lady came in with dried paint in her hair. I had to call on a seasoned stylist in the shop, but we managed to get the paint out and make her look lovely again. Not everything that happens is weird. I once cut a little girl's hair a few times. Since she never returned after the third time, I thought her parents were not pleased with my work. When they called me to tell me their daughter had died, they asked if I would come into the funeral home to style her hair. That really made me feel sad but honored that they were happy with my work.
Being a beautician definitely requires patience and a good sense of humor. I think if a friend asked me about it, I would say those are the two most important assets. Since most companies require regular beauty school training, that is also important. It took me two years to get through school, and I thought it was worth every penny I spent on tuition. Hopefully, I will be opening my own salon soon.