While you actually don’t need any qualifications to become a hairdresser, becoming a successful hair stylist does take hard work and a lot of talent, and it’s highly unlikely you will rise to the top without some form of training or qualification. So if you’ve decided that the career you want involves making sure someone has a ‘good hair day’, then it’s a good idea to start out by getting some professional training in hairdressing.
Fortunately, there are a wide range of training options available when it comes to hairdressing, including BTEC/NVQ courses and apprenticeships. And if you’re already in work, it’s possible to fit flexible or part-time study around your existing job, while you learn the trade.
Taking the BTEC/NVQ route
A NVQ usually means applying for a course at a college. Entry will largely depend upon completing your GCSE’s, but the requirements aren’t particularly onerous. Less than four grade D GCSE’s, for instance, may mean you have to start at Level 1. Above that, as long as you have passes in English and Maths, you should be able to begin at Level 2. Once that’s complete, you’re ready to work in a hairdressers, but many students go on to complete Level 3 in order to improve their job prospects and be able to choose from a better selection of hairdresser jobs.
From apprenticeship to senior hair stylist
With an apprenticeship, you gain the benefit of hands-on experience in a salon, along with part-time study. This typically takes 18 months to complete. Again, you’ll need to qualify at NVQ Level 2 before you can work as a junior hair stylist. It’s common for students that have completed NVQ Level 1 to move into an apprenticeship role while studying for Level 2. Apprenticeships go up right up to Level 7, which is the equivalent of a degree, but qualifying at this level as a senior hair stylist level can take five years or more.
Prospects are a cut above the rest
Hairdresser jobs are plentiful with more than 40,000 hair and beauty salons around the country and over 270,000 professionals employed in the industry. 48% of those are self-employed, so it’s a good career to look at if you want to work for yourself. Of course, you’ll need to get a lot of experience under you belt before opening your own hairdressers. This too may means some up-skilling to learn how to run a business.
As regards personal attributes, hair is a very personal thing. So you’ll need to be outgoing and gregarious with excellent people skills and an ability to read between the lines and understand what customers want when they come to you.
Once you’re in the workplace, continued professional development is important, as the technology used, and hair fashions, are constantly evolving. Wages aren’t high when starting out (apprentices earn just £3.90 per hour) yet, according to City & Guilds, hairdressers are some of the happiest workers in the UK.
Once qualified, salaries start at around £14,000 before rising to £30,000 for experienced hairdressers. Owning a popular salon can be lucrative, but should you be fortunate enough to become a hairdresser to the stars; the sky’s the limit!
For hairdressing jobs all over the UK, start with a search on Zoek.
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