How to get into hairdressing

30th June 2020

A career in hairdressing never goes out of fashion. Almost everyone needs to have their hair cut, which means there will always be a place for professionals in this industry. But hairdressing is much more than being responsible for the odd trim; rather, there are many facets to this profession that require vastly different skills and specialisations. Far from a predictable and straightforward career, being a hairdresser can follow many diverging pathways, leading to an exciting work life where there is always more to learn.

Why study hairdressing?

If you have a passion for hair, and an interest in the latest fashions and trends, hairdressing may be the perfect career choice for you. An eye for symmetry, colour and other aesthetic elements are wonderful assets for anyone who is interested in breaking into this industry.

As a hairdresser, you also have the opportunity to meet and speak to people from all walks of life. Strong interpersonal skills and the ability to converse openly with different types of clients are other useful attributes for someone in this industry to have. Developing relationships that encourage trust and open communication makes you more able to meet your client’s needs. You can be responsible for giving someone a whole new look, and experience the satisfaction of serving a happy customer.

While some people may assume that hairdressing is a simple process, there are actually many aspects to this profession that require different skills. Hair styling is distinct from cutting hair; rather than shortening an existing style, you are required to re-shape and re-form an old one to create something entirely new. By the same token, creative colouring requires a different set of understandings than highlighting someone’s natural locks. Barbering is distinct as well, as the skills required to style men’s hair are often very different to those necessary for styling women’s.

There is also a certain amount of flexibility in work lifestyles within hairdressing. While most professionals who work in this industry do so within a salon or other small business, many others work freelance. These freelancers either work from home in their own private salon; conduct house visits for regular clients; or are hired by companies or individuals for short term contracts, such as on a movie sets or for special occasions like weddings.

Study and Career Pathways

Many hairdressers begin their careers in the industry by working as assistants in salons. This is a good option for some, as it provides a lot of hands-on experience and practical opportunities to learn. However, there are also some clear drawbacks to this pathway. Competition is steep – as many people see this work as a ‘shortcut’ into the industry – and it may be difficult to find a placement in a local salon. In addition to this, while you will be working with professional hairstylists, you won’t have access to professional educators whose job it is to ensure that you understand theoretical concepts as well as mastering practical skills.

A good alternative to this pathway is completing a hairdressing course. Courses in hairdressing and related fields usually involve apprenticeships that last between 12 to 18 months, within a salon. At the end of this period, successful students receive a nationally-recognised certification. This means that you may be able to start working as a professional hairdresser within a year of commencing your study, and eventually be employed anywhere in the country.

Leadership and entrepreneurial opportunities

If you’re already working within hairdressing and wish to diversify your skill set, you may like to consider a course in salon management. This course will teach you to fill a leadership role, learning to manage a team and its resources, as well as set up, run and advertise a business. Even if becoming the boss doesn’t appeal to you, this course can also provide you extra credentials, which can lead to a role as a senior hairdresser, colourist or stylist.

To broaden your skills further and learn more about the industry as a whole, you may also choose to complete a course within beauty therapy. This is a wider area of study which encompasses many roles and capabilities that are related to hairdressing as well as beauty, and will diversify your understanding of the industry.

Many hairdressers also choose to work from home, usually after spending some time working with a team in a salon. In this way, they are able to work on skills that it may be difficult to master as an individual, as well as develop a personal client base which consists of regular customers who they have built relationships with. Others may start from scratch, using online tools such as social media, or local circles and word-of-mouth to market themselves and build their own business.

Hairdressing will allow you to explore many different styles of work – whether you enjoy functioning as part of an established team, or have entrepreneurial aspirations of your own.

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