Hairdressing Careers

How to become a Hairdressing

What does a Hairdressing do?

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

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

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

New entrants begin by carrying out basic hairdressing tasks such as greeting customers, washing hair, making sure towels and supplies are ready for use, and keeping the salon clean and tidy.

What's the working environment like working as a Hairdressing?

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.

What does it take to become a Hairdressing?

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 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.

Hairdressing Career Opportunities

There are over 99,000 hairdressers working throughout the UK. As well as in high street salons, hairdressers could also work on cruise liners, in hotels, on armed forces bases, in hospitals and care homes, or in prisons. African-Caribbean hairdressing is a growing sector, as is men’s barbering.

Once qualified as a stylist, 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 further information.

Some hairdressers train in make-up techniques and work within 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.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Hairdressing that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Hairdressing and Beauty Industry Authority (HABIA)
Oxford House
Sixth Avenue
Sky Business Park
Robin Hood Airport
Tel: 0845 2306 080

Freelance Hair and Beauty Federation (FHBF)

Trichology Society
19 Balgores Square
Gidea Park
Tel: 08707 666 996

Institute of Trichology
24 Langroyd Road
SW17 7PL
Tel: 08706 070602

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