Hair Color Specialist Job Description, Duties And Requirements | Cosmetology

Hair Color Specialist

Hair colour specialist career profile

From subtle changes that enhance natural shades or cover the first hints of grey, to dramatic statements or wild punk streaks, a hair colour specialist gives their clients the confidence of great colour. Hair colouring is a complex and skilled job requiring creativity and knowledge and may offer more creative possibilities than hair cutting. A change in hair colour can accentuate the eyes and skin, and transform a cut with texture and volume, as well as make an impact with a bold shade.

A colourist has extensive knowledge of the technicalities of hair colour, depth and tone, and works with a range of techniques including permanent, semi-permanent and highlighting. They discuss with their clients what will suit them, and work with hairstylists to create a cut and colour that compliment each other. This isn’t just choosing a colour from a bottle – a hair colourist must take into account a client’s hair type and style and any previous treatments. A good colourist may also need to fix hair colour problems, correcting mistakes from a subtle shade mismatch to removing a colour. A colourist also has responsibility for client health and safety, carrying out skin tests and ensuring the safe use of products.


Although hair colourists don’t legally require a license to work in a salon, it’s a great idea to get qualified. It will open up more job opportunities and give your clients confidence. Keeping up with new processes and technologies is essential for a colourist. Once you are qualified and working in a salon, you may be able to take extra courses on different techniques. Some hair product companies offer qualifications in colour technology.

Job outlook

Maintaining hair colour requires to repeat visits to a salon, so as you build up a client list, you will generate more bookings as happy customers come back to you to get their roots touched up or for new styles.

The employment outlook for hair colourists, in general, is good, the salon industry is predicted to grow over the next decade, with hairstylist jobs of all kinds increasing by 14% by 2020.


Becoming a skilled hair colourist and getting a position in a great salon comes from a mixture of training and on-the-job experience. Attending cosmetology school will allow you to work in a student-run salon to gain experience.


There are no specialized state licenses for hair colourists, but every state requires that a colourist hold a state cosmetology license. Requirements vary from state to state, but most require that the applicant have completed at least 1,000 hours of formal training and passed a practical hands-on skills test as well as a written exam. Cosmetologists must renew their licenses periodically, and some states require evidence of additional training during that period. A colourist who holds a cosmetologist license in one state will have to present evidence of training to obtain a license in another state.

How to become a hair colour specialist?

Clients, both men, and women take their hair colour very seriously. This is why they will shell out a lot of money at the salon to get the perfect hair colour they want. Since hair colouring is an expensive service, it can be very profitable to become a hair colouring specialist.

Becoming a hair colour specialist takes skill, patience, and a lot of practice. Here are some steps to becoming a hair colour specialist.

Take hair colour courses at cosmetology school

You will need to enrol in cosmetology school to learn the basics of hair colour and hair care. You will not only learn about hair colour theory in cosmetology school, but you will also need to undergo hands-on hair colour training and will be allowed to dye the hair of real clients under the direction of a cosmetology instructor.

Get your professional cosmetology license

Once you graduate from cosmetology school, you will need to pass the State Board exam before you can start working in the beauty industry. You must pass both parts of the exam, the written part, and the practical part, to obtain your cosmetology license.

Master the formulas and become an expert in hair colour

Once you start working in a salon, do your best to learn the advanced techniques and commandments of hair colouring. If you work as an associate, try to work closely with the other stylists who are considered experts in hair colour. Cosmetology school will give you a good understanding of the fundamentals, but you will learn to master advanced hair colouring formulas and techniques by working behind the chair.

Keep learning new hair colour trends

Hair colour trends are continually changing. Keep up to date with the new trends by regularly taking advanced colouring classes. Now that you are a hair colour specialist, you should be able to give your client any crazy new hair colour they request.

Job duties

Before starting to work, hair colourists consult with their clients about their desired look. They usually wear protective gloves and sometimes aprons to shield themselves from the dyes and bleaches they will be exposed to during the colouring process. The hair colourist is responsible for timing the process to obtain the desired results. While larger hair salons will often employ persons who specialize in hair colouring, in smaller salons, the general cosmetologists may handle hair-colouring duties and also be responsible for shampoos, cuts and styling. Some hair colourists work long shifts and spend almost their entire work period on their feet. Hair colourists must maintain records about their clients’ procedures and products used.

What skills do hair colour specialists need?

Good hair colour specialist has some of these qualities:

  • Creativity
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Time management skills
  • Marketing skills
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Problem-solving skills
  • A desire to learn

In addition to some skills that they may be born with, all hair colour specialists need a cosmetology license to officially practice. During school, they have the opportunity to train and master these technical and professional skills.

Where does a hair colour specialist work?

You can definitely expect to see these professionals in the salon, but colour specialists can be found in a variety of places. Here are some of the most popular:

  • Speciality salons
  • Living rooms
  • Spas
  • Privately owned salons
  • Instagram influencer
  • Editorial sets
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