The HARD TRUTH about hairdressing and why we LOVE IT!!

Being honest, what do you think of hairdressing as a career? Popular opinion always seems to be it is for people who “can’t” do anything else; who weren’t “smart enough” to go to University; it is easy and is not a “real” job; you don’t need to be very educated; or is for “artistic people” who don’t know what else to do.

As former Director of Delmar College, I used to do first day orientation with all new classes. I would pose the question, “What do you think many people think of hairdressing?” I would always get versions of the above opinions. Sadly, I would agree and let them know those opinions haven’t changed in decades.

I would then tell them it was our job to change society’s view of us…one person/client at a time. We needed to educate people. Let them know that our $16,000+ education, includes almost more theory than practical. That we are required to achieve 70% or higher in BOTH theory and practical in order to pass. Between school and our apprenticeship, we are required to complete 3500 hours and pass 2 practical exams and 3 theory exams to become a Red Seal Licensed Hairstylist.

I would challenge them to give their textbook to family or friends and tell them to read the chapters on anatomy or chemical texturizing or haircoloring or trichology. Then tell them they would have a test on it at the end of the week. Also, let them know they would be learning practical components at the same time and let’s not forget working a full or part-time job on the side while taking care of the family.

I would tell them that hair school is the hardest thing they will do in their life and the learning ‘curve’ is totally vertical. Unlike university, hair school is hours-based and missing school for any reason could ultimately lead to dismissal or high over-contract fees. I also told them, the strong would survive!


When coloring the hair, we need to understand terms like elasticity, porosity, contributing pigment, paraphenylenediamine and know WHY they are important.


We must understand pH levels and their affect on the hair. To successfully perm or relax the hair, we need to know the difference between ammonium thioglycolate, glycerol monothioglycolate and sodium hydroxide and WHEN to use each.

Ammonium thioglycolate

Glyceryl monothioglycolate

When cutting the hair we need to know about the parietal ridge, occipital bone, temporal areas and mastoid and HOW these areas are related to the haircut. We also need to understand angles and which angles are used when cutting increased layers, internal or external graduation.


After we have graduated from hair school, our education continues so we remain up-to-date on techniques, products and chemicals. We will take many classes/courses throughout our careers at our own cost (costs ranging from $50-$2000 or more per class).

Hairstyling equipment (tools of our trade) are costly. A single pair of shears will range between $100-$2000 with an average decent pair costing between $350-$600 (most stylists own multiple shears and texturizers). Blowdryers, flatirons, clippers, trimmers all cost a pretty penny too. We are required to purchase our own equipment as salons do not provide tools for their stylists.


So, with the cost and struggles of hair school, apprenticing and long days to name but a few ‘cons’, WHY DO WE DO IT? The answer is simple: we LOVE working with hair and clients!

We have a hidden super power: we have the ability to increase a person’s self esteem and make them feel amazing in a relatively short period of time! There is nothing more satisfying than a happy/ecstatic client who is smiling from ear-to-ear after a 2-hour color and cut appointment! Or when that 6-10 hour color correction results in perfection and your client can’t stop raving about it (and you)!

This is an extremely competitive industry and it takes long hours, dedication, passion and hard work to build a clientele. However, the hard work pays off and we have a career that we are proud of! We have many options available to us including: working for ourselves (renting a chair or working from home); becoming a salon/barbershop owner, a technical educator, a session stylist or an instructor; working in theatre or film plus many more.


The reason we do what we do! Our clients look to us to enhance or change their look. They trust us with their secrets. The time we spend with our clients creates a bond that can last a lifetime! For those of us who are truly passionate, there is simply nothing more satisfying than the look in our clients eyes when we have worked our magic!

John Steinbeck once said:

‘It is my considered opinion that the hairdresser is the most influential person in any community. When the public goes to a hairdresser, something happens to them; they feel safe and they relax. The hairdresser knows what their skin is like under their makeup; they know their age; they don’t have to keep up any kind of pretence. People tell a hairdresser things they wouldn’t dare confess to a priest and they are open about matters they try to conceal from a doctor. When people place their secret lives in the hairdressers hands, the hairdresser gains an authority few other people ever attain. I have heard hairdressers quoted with complete conviction on art, literature, politics, economics, child care and morals. I tell you that a clever, thoughtful, ambitious hairdresser wields a power beyond the comprehension of most people ‘

We couldn’t agree more!

So, if hair is your passion and you are up for the challenge, start your journey now! It WILL be hard and you may even want to give up at times. However, you will find, IT IS WORTH IT!

If you want to follow your passion, contact our Admissions Advisor and join the family!

CALGARY Admissions 403-264-8055

RED DEER Admissions 403-347-2018

Tara Byrne Social Media Coordinator