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How to Become a Hairdresser

Hairdressing is the act of dressing or arranging hair. Hairdressers help customers look amazing by trimming and styling their hair. If you are sociable, creative and like staying abreast of hairdressing trends, this could be your ideal career

What do Hairdressers do?

The duties of hairdressers vary by position. While junior hairdressers prepare clients for styling, senior hairdressers perform the actual styling.

Therefore, junior hairdressers;

  • Welcome customers to the salon or barber shop
  • Apply shampoo and make simple hair cuts
  • Ready towels and other hairdressing materials for use
  • Ensure the salon is clean and tidy

And senior hairdressers;

  • Condition, trim, colour and straighten hair
  • Advise clients on minor hair and scalp issues
  • Make appointments and handle payments
  • Order hairdressing supplies
  • Ensuring safe storage of hair products

Although most hairdressers generally master several hairdressing techniques, others specialise in certain techniques, such as braiding and plaiting.

Work Environment

Full-time hairdressers work 40 hours a week, including evenings and weekends. On the other hand, the number of hours freelance or part-time hairdressers work in a week depends on the number of clients they have.

While at work, hairdressers often wear gloves and aprons to avoid exposing their skins to the chemicals in hair products.


Aspiring hairdressers can expect to earn the following salaries;

Job Level


Annual Income

Fully-trained hairdressers


£14,000 - £20,000

Top professional hairdressers


£30,000 plus

Source: National Careers Service

Education and Training

There are three paths to becoming a hairdresser. You can;

  • Start working as a trainee in a salon or barbershop and develop the required skills on-the-job
  • Pursue a hairdressing apprenticeship, or
  • Complete a full-time or part-time course in training colleges.

Examples of recommended courses include;

  • Level 1 Award / Certificate in Introduction to the Hair and Beauty Sector
  • Level 1 (NVQ) Award / Certificate in Hairdressing and Barbering
  • Level 2 (NVQ) Certificate / Diploma in Barbering
  • Level 3 Certificate / Diploma in African-Caribbean Hairdressing
  • Level 3 (NVQ) Certificate / Diploma in Hairdressing.

Although these courses are available in several local colleges and training centres throughout the UK, the most reputable beauty schools include;

Useful Skills and Abilities

Competent hairdressers often have;

  • Excellent customer-service skills
  • Good attention to detail
  • Good eye-hand coordination
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • The ability to follow instructions carefully
  • Good health and skin without allergies
  • Creativity and patience

Career Progression

After you start working as a hairdresser, you should stay updated on hairdressing trends and new hair products. This will not only help you meet the changing needs of customers, but also enhance your career progression prospects.

In addition, you can also pursue further training on the following advanced techniques;

  • Bridal hairstyling
  • Colouring
  • Styling wigs

Higher level qualifications, such as undergraduate degrees in hair design and make-up, are also available for hairdressers looking to move into theatre, film or TV.

Employment Prospects

The main employers of hairdressers include;

  • Salons and barbershops
  • Cruise ships
  • Hotels
  • Hospitals and care homes

With vast hairdressing experience and advanced qualifications, you can become a senior stylist or salon manager, or establish your own business. Bachelor’s degree holders can also become beauty trainers in colleges.

For more information on this industry, visit;

Success Tip

The key to succeeding as a hairdresser is in your interpersonal and creative abilities. If you can maintain positive working relationships with clients and come up with trendy hair styles, the hairdressing industry will be yours to conquer. Good luck.

Image Sourced: iStockphoto

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