How to become a hairdresser
By: Todor Madzharov
Reading time: 3 min

There are few jobs in this world that are necessary – but nobody ever thinks of hairdressing in that list. Yet hairstyles are a huge part of our identities, and give many of us our uniqueness, confidence and happiness. A career in hairdressing is as personal as it is rewarding – along the way, you get the chance to meet hundreds of people, and have them feeling reborn as they leave your salon.

But being a cut above the rest in this career means you’ll need to consider a few things before you get behind the chair. Not to worry – here’s everything you need to know to get the ball rolling in the world of hairdressing.

Job basics

  • Entry salary: Around £14,000+pa
  • Experienced salary: £22,000+pa
  • Average hours: 35-40 (full-time); 15-20 (part-time)

What do they do?

  • Cut, trim, style and shave hair
  • Use colour products
  • Act as consultants to customers looking for something different
  • Maintain and clean a safe, healthy workspace for customers
  • Keep a close eye on stock, and reorder fresh items for clients
  • Retain a positive, comfortable environment for clients

What qualities should I have?

While it goes without saying that you have to have great hand-eye coordination and a natural flair for cutting hair, the biggest thing in a job like hairdressing is your interpersonal approach. If you’re going to spend so much time with clients, you need to be a positive, happy and even sympathetic person, as you’re in charge of your clients’ confidence at every stage of your time with them.

Hair treatments – from washing, cutting and trimming to styling, colouring and perfecting – can take two or three hours (or more!) if you’re doing a particularly big ‘do, so you need to keep a nice, comfortable and confident environment. It goes without saying that you need patience, too, as well as endurance to stay on your feet for large chunks of the day.

It’s a job that requires quite a lot of out-of- hours research, too; after all, hair is influenced by fashion, and that changes regularly! You need to keep abreast of trends in hairstyles, technology in hairdressing, and even colours that are popular.

How do I become qualified?

You can’t expect to walk into a salon, pick up some scissors and have a go (unless the recipient was planning to shave their hair off after all was said and done). It’s important that you get at least an entry- level qualification before you approach roles at the lower levels of salons, while experience is everything if you’re hoping to jump into a fully-qualified role at an established hairdresser. Established qualifications available across colleges around the UK include:

  • Levels 1-3 NVQ diploma in hairdressing
  • Levels 1-3 NVQ diploma in hairdressing (combined hair types)
  • Levels 1-3 NVQ diploma in barbering
  • Additional level 4 qualifications for technical abilities and management

Don’t forget that plenty of salons around the country are happy to take dedicated yet fresh-faced people under their wing and teach them the art of hairdressing from the ground up. These opportunities aren’t everywhere, so to speak, but it’s definitely something to keep an eye out for if you’re at the very start of your career!

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