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hairdresser

Qualified hairdressers or stylists, shampoo, cut, colour, perm, set and dry hair, using a range of products and techniques.

They have to be aware of health and safety, and understand the effects of the chemicals in the products they are using. Hairdressers may also have reception duties.

Some hairdressers specialise in traditional men's barber shop services or in African-Caribbean techniques such as pressing, braiding, plaiting and attaching hair extensions.

New entrants begin by carrying out basic tasks such as:

  • greeting customers
  • washing hair
  • making sure towels and supplies are ready for use
  • keeping the salon clean and tidy.

Hours and Environment

Most hairdressers work up to 40 hours a week, usually between 9am to 5pm or 6pm. Most will work on Saturdays with a day off in the week. Some salons open late on one or two evenings. Part-time work is often available.

The work may not be suitable for those who are susceptible to skin irritations or breathing problems, as the use of chemicals and frequent contact with water can irritate or cause these.

Some hairdressers offer a mobile hairdressing service, visiting customers in their homes. A driving licence and vehicle are needed for this.

Skills and Interests

If you want to be a hairdresser you should:

  • be good at working with your hands
  • be artistic and creative
  • enjoy working with people of all ages and backgrounds
  • be able to welcome clients and put them at ease
  • be tactful and diplomatic
  • be fashion conscious
  • be prepared to learn new techniques and methods
  • be aware of health and safety issues
  • have physical stamina to stand for long periods and work long hours.

Entry

You can enter hairdressing in one of the following ways:

  • attending a full-time or part-time college course leading to NVQs/SVQs in Hairdressing. These are available at levels 1 to 3. Please se the Training section for more information
  • applying to a salon as a trainee, learning the job from more experienced colleagues and attending college on day release.
If you are aged between 16 and 24 you may be able to do an apprenticeship. Please see the Training section for more information.

You can find information on qualifications and career paths in the hairdressing industry on the Hairdressing and Beauty Industry Authority (HABIA) website. Please see the Further Information section for a link to the website. Please note: HABIA do not provide courses and are not able to supply lists of course providers.

Training

You can work towards the following NVQs/SVQs:

  • NVQ/SVQ Level 1 in Hairdressing - involves learning the basic principles of hairdressing, based on assisting qualified staff in the salon
  • NVQ/SVQ Level 2 in Hairdressing - covers the essential skills required by a hairdresser
  • NVQ/SVQ Level 3 in Hairdressing - offers a broader range of units related to the work of senior salon staff
  • NVQs/SVQs levels 2 and 3 in Barbering.

City and Guilds Specialist Awards are also available at levels 2 and 3. They are short awards which will enable you to focus on areas including:

  • colouring
  • colour correction
  • dressing long hair
  • hair extensions.

You can find details of the NVQs and other qualifications on the HABIA website. Please see the Further Information section.

Higher level qualifications you can do when you are an experienced hairdresser, include:

  • City and Guilds Level 4 Higher Professional Diploma in Salon Management
  • SQA Higher National Certificate in Salon Management
  • HNC/D courses in hairdressing, usually combined with salon management.

You can do foundation degrees in Hairdressing and Salon Management at a few colleges and universities. For entry to these you will usually need:

  • one A level/two H grades;  and
  • five GCSEs (A-C)/S grades (1-3) including English; or
  • equivalent qualifications or appropriate experience.

You can do degrees in beauty therapy and hairdressing at several universities and colleges in the UK. To enter a degree courses you will usually need:

  • five GCSEs (A-C)/S grades (1-3);  and
  • two A levels/three H grades or equivalent.
Please check with colleges or universities for exact entry requirements.

For information about foundation degrees see Foundation Degree Forward

To search for colleges and universities offering foundation degrees, HNDs and degrees see Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS)

The Freelance Hair and Beauty Federation (FHBF) runs training courses for hairdressers on planning, setting up and managing your business, as well as ongoing training and Continuing Personal Development (CPD). Please see the Further Information section for contact details.

Apprenticeships may be available for those under the age of 24. In England these are currently Apprenticeships (level 2) and Advanced Apprenticeships (level 3). To find out more about these, visit www.apprenticeships.org.uk

Apprenticeships may be different in other areas. For further information see Scotland , Wales and Northern Ireland

Opportunities

There are over 99,000 hairdressers working throughout the UK. They work:

  • in high street salons
  • on cruise liners
  • in hotels
  • on armed forces bases
  • in hospitals and care homes
  • in prisons.

Once qualified as stylists, hairdressers can continue to gain qualifications to become technicians using more advanced colouring, perming, assessing and remedial techniques. NVQ/SVQ level 4 or SQA HNC in Salon Management can provide the opportunity to progress into management or self-employment.

By taking the the appropriate further qualifications, it is also possible to enter teaching and lecturing and/or NVQ/SVQ assessing. See Lecturer: FE Teaching, and NVQ/SVQ Assessor/Verifer for more information.

Some hairdressers train in make-up techniques and work in the television or film industry, although opportunities in this area are limited; others become platform artists, demonstrating their skill to audiences of fellow hairdressers and students. Some go on to train as trichologists, advising on scalp problems, and others may become wig makers.

Annual Income

Figures are intended as a guideline only.

Trainee hairdressers earn around the national minimum wage, depending on age.
Fully trained stylists are likely to earn between £10,000 and £16,000.
At the top of the profession, hairdressers can earn £30,000 or more, depending on employer and/or location.


 

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The information contained in our Career Profiles Database was correct at time of publishing, but since publication certain details may have changed so please use this section as a research tool and in some cases further research may be required.

Careers Database Information By Learn Direct Advice