JOB PROFILE: Hairdresser/Barber

Qualifications and courses

You can either train as a hairdresser full time at college or you can start as an assistant/trainee in a salon and attend college on day release. Several NVQs are available including the Level 1 Certificate in Hairdressing and Barbering, the Level 1 Diploma in Hairdressing and Beauty Therapy, a Diploma in Hairdressing (Levels 2–3) or a Diploma in Barbering (Levels 2–3). Those who wish to specialise in African-Caribbean hair could take the NVQ Diploma in Hairdressing (Combined Hair Types) (Levels 2–3). You could also study for a BTEC Level 1 Introduction to Hair and Beauty.

Another route into this career is to apply for an apprenticeship, either in hairdressing or barbering, both of which are available at Intermediate and Advanced Level.

Those with NVQ Level 2, a HABIA Apprenticeship Certificate or who have 6 years' hairdressing experience can register as a state-registered hairdresser with the Hair Council (HC). The Freelance Hairdressers' Association (FHA) runs a course for hairdressers on establishing and managing their own business, as well as a 2-day colour course and 1-day bootcamp (workshop) covering cutting, styling, blow drying and colour techniques.

Qualified hairdressers can take more specialised courses through part-time study, such as the BTEC HNC/HND in Hair and Beauty Management (Levels 4–5) or the Level 4 Diploma/Certificate in Salon Management from the Vocational Training Charitable Trust (VTCT). Foundation degrees in hairdressing, as well as degrees in subjects such as hair and beauty management, fashion styling and hair and make up for fashion, are also available. Entry usually requires at least 1 A level/2 H grades and a Level 3 BTEC, NVQ or equivalent qualification in a hairdressing/barbering subject.

For those wishing to work in theatre, film and TV, there are degrees in subjects such as specialist hair and media make-up.


What the work involves

Hairdressers shampoo, cut and style clients’ hair to a range of modern or classic looks. You could also provide dry or wet shaves to male clients.

You will discuss hair treatments with clients and may carry out colouring, tinting, perming and fixing hair extensions. You will also give advice on general haircare and hair products.

At senior levels, you could provide training to junior hairdressers.


Type of person suited to this work

Cutting and styling hair involves close personal contact with clients so hairdressers need good communication skills and a friendly manner.

You should have an interest in fashion, a creative flair and an eye for detail. You will need manual dexterity when using specialist chemicals and equipment required to style, perm and colour customers’ hair. You should be willing to learn new techniques and methods throughout your career.

Sometimes you may work on reception, booking appointments and taking cash, so you will have to be efficient, confident and numerate.

Some salons require staff to be able to offer a wider choice of services, such as nail and beauty treatments.


Working conditions

Most hairdressers and barbers are based in salons in high streets and other areas.Some work as mobile hairdressers, providing services to clients in their own homes, so a driving licence would be required.

You will do a 40-hour week, which may include working Saturdays. A lot of salons remain open in the evening once or twice a week. Certain salons also open on Sunday. Part-time work is often available.


Future prospects

In a salon, you could progress to a role as senior stylist or manager. Alternatively, you could set up your own business.

As a mobile hairdresser, you could provide services to people in hospitals, care homes or prisons, as well as private clients.

There are opportunities to work on cruise ships. With further beauty therapy training you could work in film, TV or theatre.


Advantages/disadvantages

As a profession, it gives you continual opportunities to be creative.

It is a very sociable profession as you meet new people on a daily basis.

You are on your feet for most of the day so it can be tiring.

Regular contact with beauty products and chemicals means that this type of work may not suit people with skin conditions or allergies.


Money guide

As a trainee you can expect to earn the national minimum wage, which varies according to your age. Earnings also vary with employer and geographical location.

Experienced hairdressers can expect to earn between £14,000 and £24,000 per year.

Top professional hairdressers can achieve in excess of £30,000.


Further information


Content generously provided by Indigo Trotman.


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