Helping people attain Beyoncé-grade flawless isn’t going out of style anytime soon. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of barbers, hairstylists and cosmetologists is projected to grow by 13 percent from 2016 to 2026 — faster than the average for other occupations due to population growth and an increasing demand for hair care services. That means now it may be more important than ever to gain an edge.

 A Cut Above the Rest

Kim Kimble, a third-generation hairstylist, knows this firsthand. After working in her salon, she was inspired to take the continuing education of aspiring hairstylists, beyond required certification programs, into her own hands by opening an academy for hairstylists.

“When I started interviewing a lot of stylists, the work they were putting out did not add up to the work that they should be doing. I learned that when they would come in to interview or assist, that they did not have the skills. I couldn’t hire a lot of stylists — they needed to be trained,” Kimble said.

A Stylish Skillset 

There’s a reason hairstylists must undergo training. It’s a technical job requiring careful attention to detail, but also a physically strenuous one, as stylists must be on their feet all day. According to the BLS, stylists must get a diploma from a state-approved cosmetology program or barber before passing a state exam that will grant them a license. Even then, though, you may not have access to the most innovative techniques in color, cut, and management of different hair types.

"I learned that when they would come in to interview or assist, that they did not have the skills. I couldn’t hire a lot of stylists — they needed to be trained.”

That’s not to say home training, as Kimble attained through her relatives, isn’t also valuable. “My grandmother and mother were hairstylists, and I was able to learn a lot from them,” Kimble said. However, “I also took classes at hair shows and from hair stylists,” Kimble said. “Additionally, I prayed for God to give me some creativity, to give me knowledge of how to create certain things and how to develop certain styles.”

Ultimately, attending an academy like Kimble’s can offer a roadmap for navigating the salon. “[Schooling] gives you a blueprint,” she said. “It gives you that foundation and structure.”