Hair Colour Technician

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Hair Colour Technician


Almost everyone loves getting their hair done. From dramatic dye jobs to simple trims, any visit to a salon makes one feel more attractive and better groomed than they did going in. Coloring hair is a very special way to enhance someone's appearance, and hair color technicians do their best to ensure that each client, no matter what they have done, leaves the salon feeling like a million bucks.

Hair color technicians do one, some, or all of these duties: They bleach, rinse, dye, frost, tint, color, frost, or streak the heads of men and women. They give advice on products, hair treatment, and scalp care. They consult with each customer to discuss the desired change. And a good color technician listens, gives unobtrusive advice, and follows orders as much as possible. It is the rare customer who tells the hair color technician "I don't care what you do. Do whatever you want." Usually a customer has a set idea, and it is up to the technician to get the color as close to that vision as possible - even if they disagrees with the decision.

Hair color technicians often act as confidants and friends. The relationship that develops between the technician and the customer can be intimate, as the client feels relaxed and safe under the technician's capable hands. Therefore, technicians must be sure they are patient, gentle, and talkative people, who are excellent listeners when necessary.

Some hair color technicians get into theater and film work, coloring the hair of actors and extras. This type of work can be less stable, and the hours are more irregular than work in a salon. The basic principles apply, however, there may be some more restrictions to the work. If they work on a period film, for example, they may be required to research historical hair colors. However, work in futuristic films will allow for more creativity.

Regardless of whether they work in film studios, high-class salons that provide massage, oil treatments, and intensive dye jobs or inexpensive family salons that just do the basics, hair color technicians must be professional, creative, and dedicated workers. They have a lot of stamina, and good attention spans. They know that each dye job is as important as the last, and do their best to leave their clients satisfied, relaxed, and ultimately, happy.
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  Interests and Skills  
Successful hair color technicians are creative, confident, and artistically inclined with an interest in fashion and hair trends. A hair color technician should be a skilled listener, as well as a good communicator, and should enjoy meeting people, working closely with them, and helping them achieve the hair color they want. They should be respectful, patient, detail-oriented and able to follow instructions. It is also important to be well-groomed, polite, punctual, and trustworthy. Some management skills may also be beneficial.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Discuss color options with clients
  • Sell products
  • Advise on hair treatments
  • Maintain cleanliness of work area, including equipment
  • Color hair
  • Tend to administrative duties
  • Order supplies
  • The typical day for a hair color technician involves a lot of hair, and a lot of hair dye. A technician's tasks do depend, however, on the size of the salon. In larger salons, the colorist may be involved only in the styling, while assistants take care of shampooing and the cuts are done by a stylist. However, in smaller shops the color technician may do it all. Each day involves some chit-chat, making small talk with clients, as well as engaging in more in-depth discussions. Hair color technicians meet many people every day, from all sorts of backgrounds and experiences. It is not a job that allows for much travel, unless they work as a house-call colorist, which would take them all over their community.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Hair color technicians work in film and television studios; upscale salons; discount chain shops; and independently, traveling to private residences, hospitals, and retirement centers. They work indoors, standing for hours on end. The atmosphere can be hectic, loud, and smell of chemicals. They generally work long days, including evenings and weekends, as they must work around their clients. They work alone, but usually alongside other beauty specialists.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Hair color technicians can open up a salon, or start up a private home hair care business. They can enter the film and television industry. They can branch into cosmetology, train as an esthetician, get into product sales, or begin instructing at beauty schools. They can become fashion consultants, beauty writers, or branch into any other career field that deals with freedom of expression.

  Educational Paths  

There are a few routes to take in order to become a hair color technician. First, it's a good idea to finish high school. While it's not mandatory, a high school diploma certainly helps with promotions and management positions in the long run.

The next step is to choose to either enter an apprenticeship training program (this lasts about two years, and involves both in-class and on-the-job training with a mentoring stylist) or you can complete a two- to three-year college or private school training program, which may or may not include on-the-job training. Either route will work, as long as at the end of the training, you are able to pass a licensing exam.

The advantage to the apprenticing route is the schools which are affiliated with the programs and provide opportunities in different ways to the students. If you choose to attend a private college, make sure you check out its credentials before you hand over your tuition money. All of that training will qualify you as a hairstylist, with the ability to do simple color jobs. Colorists who are very interested in the artistic possibilities of color often take extra classes, and learn more advanced coloring techniques.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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