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Hairdressers cut, colour and shape clients' hair to create the look they want.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £14,000 to £30,000 or more average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 37 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

There are no set requirements. You may be able start work as a trainee in a salon with no formal qualifications and learn on the job.

You can also train to become a hairdresser either full-time or part-time at a college. Courses are offered as standalone hairdressing qualifications or are can be combined with related subjects like beauty, make-up and nails.

You could get into this job through an apprenticeship.

The Hair and Beauty Industry Authority (HABIA) has information about choosing hairdressing as a career.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • the creativity to design and interpret hairstyles
  • excellent customer service and communication skills
  • organisational and time-keeping skills

3. What you'll do

You may work in a large team in a busy city centre hairdressers, or in a small salon serving a local community. You could also work in hotels, spas, health clubs, prisons and care homes, or on cruise ships, film sets or armed forces’ bases.

You may specialise in working with particular clients or techniques, like braiding and plaiting Afro-Caribbean hair or working in a men's barber shop.

As a junior hairdresser, your tasks may include:

  • greeting customers
  • shampooing and conditioning hair
  • simple cutting
  • making sure towels and supplies are ready for use
  • keeping the salon clean and tidy

As a senior hairdresser you'll talk to clients about how they want their hair done, give them advice and suggest style ideas.

Your tasks may include:

  • cutting and styling
  • colouring, perming or straightening
  • advising on minor hair and scalp problems
  • keeping client records, making appointments and taking payments
  • ordering materials and promoting sales to customers
  • keeping up to date with new trends, techniques and products
  • making sure that hair products containing chemicals are used and stored safely

4. Salary

Starter: £14,000

Experienced: £14,000 to £24,000

Highly Experienced: £30,000 or more

Salaries will vary greatly depending on the location and type of salon.

Trainee hairdresser pay is usually based on the National Minimum Wage/ National Living Wage.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You'll usually work up to 40 hours a week, between 9am and 6pm. This will usually include Saturdays with a day off in the week. Some salons open late on weekday evenings.

You could also choose your own hours by working freelance. You could either rent space within a salon or visit customers in their own homes.

You’ll need a driving licence and vehicle as a mobile hairdresser, or if you work in more remote locations like spas.

6. Career path and progression

With experience you could become a senior stylist or salon manager. With suitable further qualifications, you could also move into training or assessing.

You could also open your own salon.

Other options include wig making, training in make-up techniques and working in the theatre, film and television industries.

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Last updated: 02 April 2018