Wig makers make false beards and wigs. These can be for the cosmetic market or use by theatrical companies. Wig making is a surprisingly large industry. Most large wig companies make thousands of wigs, hair pieces, beards and other hair-related products every month, so there are plenty of opportunities for you to get into this career.
If this sounds like the sort of job you’d like, this is the career guide for you:
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1. What do wig makers do?
Your daily duties could include:Making wigs, beards and other hair pieces
- Operating machinery
- Styling and finishing completed wigs by hand
- Applying colouring and tinting to human and artificial hair
- Liaising with private clients
2. Working Environment
Wig making is quite an industrial process and you’ll be working in a factory, often producing up to a hundred wigs per day. Usually, wigs are created by machine using artificial or real hair threaded through needles. You’ll need to have good concentration and be confident in your abilities as you’ll be working unsupervised for much of the time.
Working hours are generally 8am to 4pm, although this may vary depending on your employer’s requirements, so some flexibility may be required.
According to mysalary.co.uk, the average annual salary for an experienced wig maker in the UK is £24,780.
4. Entry Requirements
Although you don’t need a degree or diploma to become a wig maker, a qualification in hairdressing would be helpful, and there are specific wig making qualifications available too.
Useful topics you’ll cover include:
- Hair styling techniques
- Contemporary styling
- Hair styling tools
Many colleges with drama departments run wig making courses and attending one would be advantageous if you want to get into theatrical wig making. You’ll learn about designing different hairpiece patterns, selecting colours, choosing different hair textures, layering and styling. An important element of these courses covers the maintenance, cleaning, storage and attachment methods used for different types of wigs and beards.
There are also many online wig making courses offered, but these are not particularly useful as the job has such a large hands-on element.
5. Important Skills and Abilities
To be a wig maker you’ll need:
- creative flair
- manual dexterity
- an eye for detail
- the ability to concentrate
- the confidence to work unsupervised
- team working skills
- enthusiasm and an interest in the hair industry
- basic knowledge of health and safety principles
- basic book-keeping knowledge
- good written and verbal communication skills
6. Career Progression
Most wig makers begin working as trainees for an established company. As you become more experienced, you could move into a more supervisory role.
Ultimately, you could decide to become self-employed and start your own wig-making business, catering for private individuals, working in conjunction with cancer care organisations or local theatre groups.
The Trichological Society is a useful worldwide organisation to join. Here you’ll find articles and research papers on wig making, together with useful contacts in wig making companies in the UK. You might also find it helpful to join the Hairdressers & Beauty Suppliers Association. All UK wig making companies are members of the HBSA.
7. Job Opportunities
Wig making is a large industry employing many people in different sectors.
If you choose to work in the theatrical part of the industry, you’ll be making wigs for actresses and actors. Your work may be used in plays, TV or for films. Job opportunities within the theatrical industry are sometimes advertised in The Stage, which is also a useful starting point when looking for suitable wig making companies to approach.
Fashion and design
Many fashion houses also use wigs as part of their runway shows. You could choose to specialise in making and designing wigs for designers.
The cosmetic wig making industry caters for private individuals, salons, specialist shops and hair loss treatment clinics. You could work for a company that makes wigs for NHS cancer patients, or private individuals.
Vacancies for wig makers are not widely advertised. The usual route into this career is by contacting wig making companies in your area directly, or through the vacancies section on their websites.
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If you’re creative and would enjoy a career that involves working in a busy, hands-on environment, wig making could be something you’d enjoy. You could choose to specialise in a particular area that interests you and progress your career by becoming self-employed. It’s an unusual job that’s often overlooked, and there are plenty of opportunities to pursue if you think it’s a role you’d enjoy.