How Do I Become a Hair Color Specialist?

If you love to change the color of your hair and find yourself being asked by family and friends to help with their hair color, maybe your talent can advance to a career-worthy skill. Becoming a hair color specialist is a way to create new looks for people while engaging in a fulfilling and profitable career.

Hair Color Specialist At Work

How do I become a hair color specialist? Many people learn to color hair during cosmetology school while learning to become a hairstylist. While many hairstylists can color hair, some stylists spend extra time studying the art of color. This gives them extra credibility as a colorist, allowing for extra clients and hire income.


Now that you know you can specialize in hair color, it’s time to find out more about the process. We’ll talk about the options for school, licensing, and jobs. Read on to find out more about enjoying fun and satisfying career as a hair color specialist.

The Proper Training to Become a Hair Color Specialist

There are different ways to get career training to professionally color hair. Popular styles vary widely. A good school helps you learn to use all types of color so you can relate to a variety of clients. Some customers may simply want to color over their gray, while others may want to enhance their natural color or experiment with unnatural colors.

Cosmetology school covers many different aspects of the beauty industry. You may learn to apply makeup and cut hair, along with learning coloring techniques. While attending school, make sure your teachers know you want to learn more about coloring techniques.

Some of your teachers may spend some extra time with you, especially if they have good advice about coloring. Look for an internship or job that offers training hair coloring, as well as other hair care routines.

Do I Need a License to Become a Hair Color Specialist?

While you attend cosmetology school, your teachers may prepare you to get a license for working on hair. These vary by state, so check the requirements in your area. Most hairstylists must place their licenses and certifications on the wall at work for clients to see.

A license is not only a legal requirement; it helps your customers know you care about your profession. You must have the proper knowledge and motivation to work towards an education and license.

You may start your career with a basic cosmetology license. To become a certified hair colorist, you must prepare and pass the ABCH (American Board of Certified Haircolorists) exam. Make sure you have good study materials and a mentor to help you learn everything well.

The ABCH exam involves a written exam, performance portion, and an interactive evaluation. Sometimes it takes more than one attempt to pass each section. If you do fail a section of the test, simply sign up to take it again within a year. You do not have to retake the entire test.

You must be thoroughly prepared to both provide written and verbal answers to questions that are asked of you as well as demonstrate your hair coloring proficiency on a mannequin.

There are practice exams that you can take to help you prepare. You may take these exams a maximum of 100 times. There are various study guides that you can use to prepare for the tests.

The Science Behind Hair Coloring

There is a lot of information to learn about coloring hair. Subtle changes, such as highlights, have become very popular. This may involve removing the color from dark hair and recoating the hair follicle with another color.

In order to do this, you must learn the different colors that hair goes through before it gets light enough. You must know how the hair responds to different chemicals and what chemical reactions happen between hair and products. The art of hair coloring is also a science. This is why training and licensure is so important.

There are many fun colors available, and a lot of different ways to apply them. You’ll be spending a lot of time exploring the color wheel and how the science behind the coloring affects different hair colors and types.

How Much Does a Professional Hair Color Specialist Make?

It is difficult to ascertain an exact income amount for hair colorists. Many factors play into your salary as a hair colorist. People that offer beauty services must build a solid client base. It can take several years to gain a lot of repeat clients.

The salary for a professional colorist varies widely from about $27,000 to $45,000 per year. However, hair color experts in major metropolitan areas can make upwards of $50,000 annually. To reach those higher salary ranges, you have to have experience and additional certifications.

You can ensure that you have good earning potential by looking for jobs in upscale salons. You can research different salons and their average client base by visiting the salon during business hours.

If you want to ensure that you get high-paying clients, you need to work in a city or affluent part of town. You must also continue your education. When new products or styles start trending, learn as much as you can about them. This way you can provide the most up-to-date looks for your clients.

Consumer Demand For Hair Coloring


There is always a high demand for hair color. It is good to accept a variety of clients, so you have a steady stream of work. Some customers come in for a fun color change just once or twice. Others make appointments every few weeks to maintain their color.

Learn to work with all age groups, as well. Older women, especially, like to have their gray hair covered on a regular basis. This type of customer contributes to a more stable income.

You can also earn more money if you work in a salon as the only hair color specialist. Learn about different job opportunities in your area and find out about the current employees. If a salon only hires one- or two-color specialists, you do not have to complete for clients.

Continuing Education for Hair Color Specialists

You should never stop learning. Cosmetology school is only the beginning. Trends, techniques, and products change over time. Take the time to read about new products and spend time with other experienced colorists.

You can sometimes take one or two classes at a cosmetology school or community college. Pay attention to new classes that come up. Schools add new classes to the curriculum at times. You may get to experience a class that was not available during your time in school.

Get Connected to Advance Your Career as a Hair Color Specialist

Social media and websites make it easier than ever to connect with people. You can join social media sites run by salons or other colorists. This is especially important when you begin to look for a job. Professional social media sites, such as LinkedIn, help you meet other professionals in your field.

These connections can help you land better jobs and learn more about your profession. Social media also assists in improving your client base. Take the time to post pictures of hair you have colored and post them on your social media, as well. Before and after pictures, easily show what you can accomplish.

When you meet new milestones at work or gain new skills, update your profiles. This way, potential clients can see how much experience you have. You can also start a blog or YouTube channel to document and share your career adventures.

Getting Started as a Hair Color Specialist

It is exciting to start a new career. If you want to become a hair colorist, you need to go to cosmetology school and get the proper licenses. You must pass the ABCH exam to focus solely on hair color.

Besides getting you the proper certifications, a licensed cosmetology school provides you with the connections to get an internship or job at a salon, spa, or beauty store.

Start early! Many high schools offer cosmetology classes as electives. This can help young students decide what they like to do and give them early exposure to the trade. If you enjoy helping people look their best, you may do well as a hair color specialist.