To work as a specialist or to be a generalist: that is the question. After some time in the working world, professionals occasionally like to choose a specialty: lash extensions, colorist, bridal stylist, etc. while others want to remain generalists. Certainly, there are many pros and cons to both. When making your decision, you should consider the differences between the two.
To start, these terms are often misused, so knowing the real definitions should be your first step to making a decision. A “generalist” is a service provider that provides a multitude of services. A “specialist” is a service provider that focuses on one specific area of his/her craft. For example, a haircut specialist will only provide haircutting services; they will not provide any other services such as color, updos, and/or makeup applications. Here are easy ways to think of the two.
If you like to change things up on a daily basis or want to be a one-stop "shopping" experience for your clients, being a generalist might be a good fit. Many licensed professionals decide to operate as generalists because it gives them the freedom to offer their customers a wide range of services, providing their customers with a one-stop shopping experience. It also gives the service provider more variety throughout their workday.
If you are passionate about one skill set or like to be thought of as an expert, you might choose to be a specialist. Often, specialists find they have higher demand from non-repeat customers, as today’s customer often requests a specialist if they don’t have a current service provider. Specialists typically charge a higher price point based on their expertise in that specific area because they spend a great deal of time, energy and resources on advanced training to become a “master” of their craft.
Have you made your decision? If you’re considering becoming a specialist, I would first discuss your option with your salon or spa owner/manager. Keep in mind that not all salons and spas offer specialist positions. Typically, salons or spas that offer specialists positions are in larger metropolitan areas and generally are larger establishments. Next, you’ll want to do your research on advanced training/certification programs available to help you ramp up your skill set working as a specialist. If you want to remain a generalist, you should also look into continuing education to keep all of your skills sharp. This will help you stand out amongst the specialist competitors in your area.
Photo: Shutterstock | 279Photo Studio
How To Find Work-Life Balance As A Beauty Professional
Cutting The Drama: How To Handle Conflicts At Work
Patti Wanamaker brings 21 years of experience to the Milady team where she currently serves as an Implementation and Training Specialist. Her intimate understanding of the salon, school, and beauty industry comes from 18 years of hands-on experience as a multi-faceted training specialist, including 8 years of salon and spa ownership of 3 salons with annual sales of $5 million. Her experience in all 3 areas of our industry allows her to think outside the box and develop innovative training that inspires and empowers beauty industry professionals.
Skin & Esthetics
For Future Professionals
Textbooks & Materials
State Board Practice Tests
Continuing Education (CE) Classes
Advertise with Us