Shampooer Jobs: How to Qualify for This Entry-Level Salon Job

Jobs in shampooing—with professionals often called shampooers or shampoo assistants or technicians—mainly involve cleaning, conditioning, and rinsing clients' hair. This is usually in a salon setting under the supervision of a licensed cosmetologist or stylist.

If you're interested in a beauty job where you can build relationships with clients, work with stylists or retail salon workers, and guide clients on healthy hair and scalp practices while experiencing what it’s like to work in a salon, then a shampoo technician or shampoo assistant track may be right for you.

Read on to learn more about what shampoo technicians and assistants do, how to become one in your state, and what you can expect to earn as a shampooer.

Shampooer Job Description

Typical job tasks for shampooers include washing and conditioning hair, rinsing out products, massaging scalps, alerting hairstylists to scalp health concerns, and using specialty shampoos as appropriate to assist with issues like dandruff. These tasks are often done before a stylist begins their work or to rinse out products between steps, allowing hairstylists or cosmetologists to assist multiple clients simultaneously.

In some states, shampoo technicians can also blow dry and style clients' hair. This primarily applies to work at blow-dry bars, though not universally. Some people may go to shampooers for these treatments in preparation for events, while other blow-dry bar customers stop by for relaxation or a self-care treat.

Is a Shampooer Job Right for me?

Shampooing could be a good beauty career choice if you're comfortable with close physical contact with clients. You should also be social and enjoy chatting with clients and addressing concerns they raise about their hair or scalp.

No matter your reason for seeking a shampooer job, there are some traits and skills you need. Some of these are:

  • You like and are skilled at building relationships. An implied part of your job is getting clients to return, so building rapport is as important as doing your job skillfully.
  • You're process-oriented. Most of your job tasks are done in a particular order, using specific products and tools.
  • The job requires you to be sensitive to others' needs. Certain scalp conditions carry a stigma, as does matted hair. It's important to treat clients' concerns with empathy and discretion. If you suspect a client has an untreated medical condition, you should talk to their stylist or tactfully refer them to a dermatologist or other specialist.
  • You're a team player. You must relay information to other salon employees serving your clients. This includes anything that helps hair stylists give a great cut or color or the retail workers make product recommendations.

You should also be capable of standing on your feet most of the time, handling stressful situations calmly (this is a public-facing job, after all), and enjoying personal and customer service.

If you don't want to become a full-time shampooer or don't see it as a long-term career, you may still want to consider taking a shampooer job. For one, it could be an excellent option for anyone who wants to beef up their resume or round out their skill set on the way to a more long-term career goal like cosmetology or hair design.

It's also a great option if you want to try a salon job before investing your time and money into a full beauty school program. You likely don't need much—or even any—training or a minimum education. This makes shampooing a great way to feel out what it would be like to work in a salon.

How to Qualify as a Shampooer

Since requirements for shampooer jobs are set by the state, the steps to become a shampooer—if there are any—depend on where you live.

There are a few ways to become a shampooer. Your state may require:

  • Registration or certification. In some states, you need basic training before registering; in others, you simply pay a fee and register.
  • Shampoo licensure. Some states offer a specific shampooing license, usually called a shampoo assistant or technician license.
  • Cosmetology licensure or similar. Some states require a full-blown cosmetology license to shampoo a client’s hair. In these instances, of course, shampooing would be just part of your job and not the main responsibility.

For states that require training, like Nevada and New Hampshire, you can expect to spend about 40 to 50 hours—give or take—learning about product selection, shampooing and scalp massaging techniques, identifying scalp medical conditions, and hair safety.

South Dakota, on the other hand, is just one of the states that require shampooers to earn a cosmetology or hair styling license. If you go this route, you'd spend most of your program on hair styling—including cuts and coloring—as well as training to perform other non-hair-related services such as makeup application and nail services. Only a small number of your training hours would be dedicated to shampooing training, so you would almost certainly do more than shampooing after graduation.

Getting a Hair Shampoo License

States that require shampooing-specific certifications or permits often have applications to submit, fees to pay, and exams you must pass before you're licensed.

In Alabama, for example, you need to pay a $75 fee and submit a registration form to become a shampoo assistant. Your registration restricts you to washing and providing basic color rinses on clients.

Louisiana and Utah also require permits to become a shampooer.

Most states requiring a license or registration also mandate a passing score on one or more exams. Expect to be tested on safety and sanitation and, in some states, to shampoo and massage a mannequin in front of an evaluator.

Shampooer Salary and Job Outlook

Shampooers earned an average of $27,870 per year in 2022, at $13.40 per hour. The top-paying states as of 2022 were:

  • Washington, D.C.: average of about $33,760 yearly ($16.23 per hour)
  • California: average of about $33,000 yearly ($15.88 per hour)
  • Connecticut: average of about $31,890 yearly ($15.33 per hour)
  • New Jersey: average of about $29,200 ($14.04 per hour)
  • Tennessee: average of about $28,100 yearly ($13.98 per hour)

These numbers come from states that reported enough shampooer salary information to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which calculates averages. Even if your state's data isn't factored in, it doesn't mean you can't find a job as a shampooer! In fact, shampooer jobs are expected to grow by 11% between 2022 and 2032.

Here are other ways to find out possible earnings for shampooers in your area:

  • Check job sites like Indeed, LinkedIn, and Zip Recruiter. Use search terms like "shampooer," "shampoo assistant," "shampoo technician," or "shampoo technologist." Check the pay for jobs in the search results
  • Ask around! Connect with people in the industry or contact your local beauty salons. Beauty schools are another great resource for information about shampooing careers, education, licensing requirements, and salary potential in your state.

Remember that factors like your specific location, the type of salon you work in, and whether you can accept tips can affect your pay.

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