Becoming a hairdresser: from someone whos been there

For me becoming a hairdresser can be a rewarding and fulfilling career choice with many opportunities for growth.

If you’re considering a career in hairdressing, it’s important to understand the journey of becoming a hairdresser, from the training and education to eventually become qualified.

Today, I will explore the different steps involved in becoming a hairdresser, and offer my personal experience that can help you make your own informed decisions and succeed in this amazing career just as I have. 

Skip to the good bits 👇

Table of Contents

Why Becoming a Hairdresser is a Smart Choice

I was the same, I didn’t know what I wanted to do but I knew what I wanted to be or do. But I was so passionate about beauty and looking nice.

If you’re passionate about hair, fashion, and beauty, and enjoy working with people, then becoming a hairdresser could be a smart choice.

It’s a creative and dynamic career that allows you to use your skills and talents to make people look and feel their best.

Also, not as important but being a hairdresser can also be financially rewarding, with the potential of earning a lot of money and having the freedom to work when you want.

Many hairdressers are self-employed and have the freedom to choose their own clients, hours, and how much they charge.

becoming a hairdresser

And being a hairdresser can provide opportunities for personal and professional growth.

You have the chance to learn new skills and techniques, stay up-to-date with the latest trends and fashion *watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians as research ;)*. 

You also be able to build strong relationships with your clients and colleagues and be a part of a supportive and vibrant community.

I have loved the freedom of being a hairdresser and being my own boss. I couldn’t go back to not working for myself.

The Qualifications You Need to Become a Hairdresser

To become a hairdresser, you’ll need to complete some training and education. But it’s much more fun than algebra, even though maths is part of the job!

The specific qualifications you’ll need will depend on where you live in the world, as well as the type of hairdressing career you want to pursue.

In the UK you need an NVQ or another similar recognised qualification often these are level 3 or higher qualifications but not always. In general, however, there are two main paths to becoming a hairdresser: going to college and joining an apprenticeship. 

Is Hairdressing the Right Career Path for You?

Before choosing hairdressing as a career, it’s important to ask yourself if it’s the right fit for you. 

deciding whether to become a hairdresser

To be an amazing hairdresser and love your job, you’ll need to have certain skills, and traits such as: 

  • Creativity and artistic ability: As a hairdresser, you’ll need to be able to create unique and attractive styles and looks for your clients.

    So you will need to have an eye for colour, form, and texture, and be able to express your ideas and inspirations through your work.

  • Attention to detail: Hairdressing requires precision and accuracy, as even small mistakes can have massive consequences.

    You’ll need to be able to focus on the details of your work, and pay attention to the nuances and subtleties of each client’s hair.

  • People skills: As a hairdresser, you’ll be working closely with people, and you’ll need to be able to build strong relationships and connections with your clients.

    You’ll need to be friendly, empathetic, and understanding, and be able to communicate effectively with people of different backgrounds and personalities.

  • Physical stamina and dexterity: Being a hairdresser can be physically demanding (my back is always in pain!) as you’ll be standing, bending, and moving for long periods of time.

    You’ll also need to have good hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills, as you’ll be using scissors, combs, and other tools to style and cut hair.

If you have these traits and are willing to invest the time and effort in training and education, then hairdressing can be a rewarding and fulfilling career choice for you.

Now let’s look at the paths to becoming a hairdresser.

College Route to Become a Hairdresser

One of the ways to become a hairdresser is to go to college.

College programs in hairdressing typically cover a wide range of subjects, including:

  • Hair cutting and styling techniques
  • Hair colour and chemistry
  • Hair care and maintenance
  • Salon management and business skills
  • Health and safety regulations
  • Customer service and communication
  • Artistry and creativity

Hairdressing is what I choose and do not regret it one bit

Why Choose College for Your Hairdressing Education

hair salon banbury, hair college There are loads of reasons why choosing college for hairdressing can be a good idea.

Firstly, college programs in hairdressing are typically comprehensive and well-rounded, providing a solid foundation in the theories, principles, and practices of hairdressing. 

You will have the chance to learn from experienced instructors, who can provide guidance, feedback, and support throughout your studies.

Secondly, college programs in hairdressing are often flexible and adaptable, allowing you to choose the pace, format, and mode of study that best suit your needs and preferences. You can attend college full-time, part-time, or online, and you can graduate with a qualification.

Thirdly, college courses in hairdressing can be a valuable investment in your future. A college qualification can open doors to new opportunities and career paths in the hairdressing industry and can help you earn more and advance faster in your career.


The Entry Requirements for College Hairdressing Courses

To join a college hairdressing course, you’ll typically need to meet certain entry requirements, such as:

  • The minimum GCSEs required for the course 
  • Typically is 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D)
  • A certain level of English proficiency written and spoken
  • Submission of a college application and a personal statement
  • Participation in an interview or audition

The specific entry requirements for college hairdressing courses can be different, depending on the college and the program you choose. It’s important to check the requirements carefully and make sure you meet them before applying.

Another way to become a hairdresser is to get an apprenticeship in hairdressing.

An apprenticeship is a structured and supervised training/working course, where you can learn the skills and knowledge of hairdressing through hands-on experience in a real salon.

Why Choose an Apprenticeship for Your Hairdressing Education

There are several reasons why choosing an apprenticeship for your hairdressing education can be a good idea.

  • An apprenticeship in hairdressing provides you with practical and relevant experience, which can be more valuable and useful than theory-based learning. You’ll have the opportunity to work with real clients, using real tools and products, and to learn from experienced hairdressers, who can provide guidance, feedback, and support. This is good for people who prefer learning in a practical way.

  • An apprenticeship in hairdressing is often more flexible and adaptable than a college course.

    You can work and study at the same time, and earn some money whilst you learn. 

  • An apprenticeship in hairdressing can be a good choice to make money whilst you learn to become a hairdresser. Apprenticeships are often shorter than a college course.

I would have probably enjoyed this but so happy I chose to go to college. 

The Entry Requirements for Hairdressing Apprenticeships

To get an apprenticeship in hairdressing, you’ll typically need to meet certain entry requirements, such as:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D)
  • A good level of English written and spoken
  • Submission of an apprenticeship application and a personal statement
  • Participation in an interview or audition

The specific entry requirements for hairdressing apprenticeships may vary, depending on the salon, barber shop, or training provider you choose. It’s important to check the requirements carefully and make sure you meet them before applying. Also, some personal advice from me, always be yourself!

The Advantages of a Hairdressing Apprenticeship Qualification

Earning a hairdressing apprenticeship qualification can provide many advantages and benefits. Here are some of the best bits of a hairdressing apprenticeship qualification:

girl working in hair apprenticeship

  • Real-world experience and expertise: which can be invaluable in your career. You’ll have the opportunity to work with real clients, use products, and learn from experienced hairdressers, who can provide you with the knowledge, skills, and perspectives you need to succeed.
  • A recognised and respected qualification: A hairdressing apprenticeship qualification is recognised and respected by employers, clients, and peers in the hairdressing industry. It can demonstrate your commitment, dedication, and expertise, and can help you stand out in a competitive job market.
  • Access to job opportunities and career advancement: A hairdressing apprenticeship qualification can also provide access to job opportunities immediately at the salon you are training at.

What Comes Next After You're Qualified as a Hairdresser

As a qualified hairdresser, you’ll have a range of skills and expertise that you can use in your career.

It’s important to assess your skills and strengths and to identify the areas where you can improve or specialise. You can use this assessment to create a plan for your career, and to set goals and benchmarks for your professional development.

For me, I knew I wanted to run my own business. But I knew I had to grow my confidence and learn how the business side of a salon works.

So I worked at a local salon for the start of my career after I qualified from college. 

Apply for jobs

Once you’ve assessed your skills and expertise, you can start looking for job opportunities in the hairdressing industry. You can search for jobs online, in newspapers and magazines, or through networking and networking events. You can also use your qualifications and experience to apply for jobs in salons, barber shops, spas, and other businesses that offer hairdressing services.

Personally, I used my local town’s Facebook group to tell local salons I was looking for a job, this helped me a lot.

Go self-employed 

Another option for qualified hairdressers is to go self-employed. As a self-employed hairdresser, you’ll be your own boss, and you’ll have the freedom and flexibility to set your own hours, rates, and services.

You’ll also have the opportunity to build your own client base and create your own brand and reputation.

I did this alongside working at a salon. Mostly friends, and family initially, I wanted to just earn more money but slowly I realised that I had the confidence to do this on my own.

However, I had to take a small break from hairdressing and leave the salon I was working at. The crazy thing was when I realised I wanted to go back I had so many friends and family needing my services and through the power of building my brand and happy clients I was able to grow myself to build The Orchard Hair

Work to develop your career

Once you’ve launched your career as a hairdresser, it’s important to work to develop  your career.

You can do this by continuing to learn and grow, by taking on new challenges and opportunities, and by building your network and reputation. You can also pursue further education and specialisation, and seek out mentors who can support and guide you on your journey.

Personally, I am constantly doing online courses every year, putting out offers to try new trends and styles on real clients. Most importantly I always work to improve my skills in my key services the ones my clients always ask for.

The Average Salary of a Hairdresser and Other Income Opportunities

In general, however, the average salary of a hairdresser is equal to the UK’s average salary. The advantage is often the self-employed side of hairdressing, for example, you can earn additional income through tips and commissions, by providing extra services and products to your clients, or by working overtime or on weekends. 

You can also earn income through other activities, such as teaching beauty, consulting, or writing, or by starting your own business or salon. 

The Different Careers You Can Pursue with a Hairdressing Qualification

girl managing a salon becoming qualified hairdresser

A hairdressing qualification can open doors to many different careers and opportunities in the hairdressing industry. 

I have been able to open my own salon, train people, and work with influencers and magazines. Here are some of the careers you can pursue with a hairdressing qualification:

  • Hairdresser: The most obvious career for a qualified hairdresser is to work as a hairdresser in a salon, barber shop, spa, or other business that offers hairdressing services.

    As a hairdresser, you’ll be responsible for cutting, styling, colouring, and caring for your client’s hair, according to their preferences and needs. You’ll also be responsible for maintaining a clean, safe, and welcoming environment in the salon or barber shop, and for providing excellent customer service.

  • Salon or barber shop owner: Another career you can pursue with a hairdressing qualification is to own and operate your own salon.

    As a salon owner, you’ll be responsible for managing and leading a team of hairdressers, stylists, and other staff, and for providing high-quality hairdressing services to your clients. You’ll also be responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the salon, including marketing, finances, and customer service.

  • Hairdressing instructor or trainer: With a hairdressing qualification and some extra teaching qualifications you can also become an instructor or trainer like me, and teach others the skills and knowledge of hairdressing. As an instructor or trainer, you’ll be responsible for designing and delivering hairdressing courses and workshops, and for providing guidance, feedback, and support to your students.

    You can teach in a college, or private training institute or you can offer private lessons or online courses. Or hire your own apprentices.

  • Beauty or fashion consultant: A hairdressing qualification can also provide you with the skills and expertise to become a beauty or fashion consultant.

    As a beauty or fashion consultant, you’ll be responsible for providing advice and guidance to clients on a range of beauty and fashion topics, such as hair, makeup, skincare, clothing, and accessories.

    You can work for a consulting firm, a department store, a magazine, or a television or radio show, or you can go self-employed and offer your services to individual clients. Work with ITV or BBC.

  • Hair and makeup artist: With a hairdressing qualification, you can also become a hair and makeup artist, and provide hair and makeup services for film, television, theatre, and other productions.

    As a hair and makeup artist, you’ll be responsible for creating and applying hair and makeup looks that meet the requirements of the script, the director, and the actors, and that enhance the visual and emotional impact of the production.

    You’ll work closely with the production team, and you’ll need to be able to adapt to different styles, genres, and themes. One of my friends supports the Love Island team with this. 

The Future of Beauty Education and Training in the Hairdressing Industry

The hairdressing industry is constantly evolving and changing, and the future of beauty education and training in the hairdressing industry is uncertain.

Even since I became qualified things have changed so much but here are some of the trends and challenges that may shape the future of beauty education and training in the hairdressing industry:

  • The rise of technology: One of the key trends in the hairdressing industry is the rise of technology. New technologies, such as artificial intelligence, and virtual reality, online learning.

    Are changing the way hairdressers work and learn. For example, hairdressers can use virtual reality headsets to practice and improve their skills, and they can use artificial intelligence algorithms to predict and customise hair colours and styles – non of this makes sense to be but I have to say is very cool. Beauty schools and training programs will need to adapt to these technologies and incorporate them into their curricula and teaching methods.

  • The growth of being your own boss and do it online: Many hairdressers are choosing to work for themselves, rather than as employees, and they are offering their services through online platforms and apps.

    This trend is changing the nature of work in the hairdressing industry, and it is challenging the traditional models of education and training. Beauty schools and training programs will need to adapt to this to offer flexible and adaptable learning options that meet the needs of hairdressers who work for themselves.

  • The demand for sustainability and health: The hairdressing industry is also facing increasing demand for sustainability and health. Especially post-pandemic.

    Clients are becoming more aware of the environmental and health impacts of hair care products and services, and they are looking for hairdressers who can offer sustainable and healthy alternatives. Beauty schools and training programs will need to educate hairdressers on the principles of sustainability and health and to provide them with the knowledge and skills to offer eco-friendly and healthy hairdressing services.

  • Learn online: Another challenge for beauty schools and training programs in the hairdressing industry is the competition from online education.

    Online education platforms are offering hairdressing courses and workshops that are cheaper, faster, and more flexible than traditional programs. At The Orchard Hair, I offer this and my students are much happier to learn from a beauty trainer online. These platforms are also using new technologies, such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence, to enhance the learning experience.

    Beauty schools and training programs will need to compete with online education and offer learners the value, quality, and convenience that they are looking for.

In conclusion, the journey of becoming a hairdresser is a crazy one but a rewarding one. By choosing the path that’s right for you, and by working hard and staying committed, you can own this and be very successful and pursue a fulfilling and rewarding career in the hairdressing industry.

Huge good luck from me! And my DMs are always open if you want any advice because i have been where you are before. Until next time, Bekkah x

 PS, Head on over to my Instagram account @heyimbeks where you’ll find product reviews, general chitchat and a welcoming community