Barbers and hairdressers provide us with a chance to smarten up and try a new look by colouring or curling our hair. Located on every high street, salons these days can also include additional services such as nail bars, skin treatment or even sunbeds.
Hairdressing is a popular profession for those who like to be creative but can also be responsive to their customers’ needs and wants. And with the world of fashion and celebrity changing constantly, trends will mean that there’s always something new to try or another ‘in’ look to try and replicate, especially after events such as film premieres and awards ceremonies.
So what road do you need to go down if you want to become a hairdresser, and what sort of training will you need before you’re qualified enough to cut hair?
What Qualifications Will I Need?
To qualify as a hairdresser or beauty therapist, you need to look into courses which will help to get you prepared for life in the profession. These will usually be available as City & Guild qualifications and can help you gain NVQ level qualifications which can be a good entry point for a trainee position.
Only after they’ve completed training in college will trainees then get the opportunity to start off doing basic hair cutting, progressing to more complex styles as their training progresses.
Hairdressers can even specialise in particular cuts or types of hair, including perms, plaits, afros or even hair extensions. Some may also specialise in the colouring of hair, and be called upon to try anything from a complete bleach to more complicated layered colouring.
Where Can I Train?
NVQs and City & Guild qualifications in subjects such as Hairdressing, Barbering, and Beauty Therapy are available at colleges and adult training centres all around the UK.
Courses can range from full-time, degree-style courses, to part-time night school courses that you can fit around your everyday work which can be particularly useful if you are considering a career change but wish to keep working while you train.
Whichever timeframe you choose to study in, remember that you’ll need a good amount of practical experience of cutting hair before being allowed to cut a customers’ hair. Many courses make use of models for trainees to practice on, which in itself can be good for earning a little extra cash (and get a haircut while you’re at it).
Can I Gain Work Experience?
Gaining some experience while you are training is important, you’ll need to eventually practice on customers, but it may be some time before your employer allows you to. It can be a long process, but once you’ve gained the experience and confidence, you can start working on your technique and start dispensing advice, in which case, you will need a professional indemnity insurance.
Apprenticeships are another option for getting your foot in the door of a salon, especially if you are combining them with studies. Apprentices will usually start off by performing tasks such as restocking supplies, greeting customers, shampooing hair, and keeping the salon clean and tidy in between cuts, eventually building up to being trusted to cut customer’s hair on a day-to-day basis.
How Far Can I Train?
Like with many professions, practice makes perfect, and as you learn along the way, you’ll find yourself improving in all aspects of the job and maybe even find a special or preferred technique and procedure that you particularly excel at.
Your course and work experience will give you the chance to train in all aspects of hairdressing, and as you get more experience, you may get the chance to diversify into other areas like barbering.
Once you become a senior hairdresser, not only will you get the chance to use more advanced techniques and take on more complicated hairstyles, but you’ll also get the opportunity to advise customers on particular styles and products that your salon may cross-sell as part of the service.
City & Guilds qualifications in hairdressing go up to Level 4, covering advanced aspects such as working with coloured hair. A large part of your experience is going to come from practical experience gained while working in a salon. So the sooner you start snipping, the sooner you can gain the skills necessary to be confident enough to cut customers’ hair unaccompanied.
What About Starting On My Own?
Once you’ve gotten some experience under your belt by working at a salon, you may want to strike out on your own and either become freelance or set up a salon of your own design.
Much like setting up any business, you’ll have costs of equipment, products, and shop rent to think about unless of course, you decide to go mobile and use a car or small van to make visits to customers’ homes.
In either case, you’ll need to make sure you have all the relevant business licences, business insurance, liability cover, and hair and beauty insurance to cover yourself and your business should something go wrong, either to your premises or to one of your customers as a result of your treatment.
SEE ALSO: What is a Business Insurance?
Whether you’re starting at a college or considering going back to school as part of a career change, hairdressing can be a good way of meeting different kinds of people with different sorts of hair, as well as a passion for delivering a good service and maybe even getting creative with style at the same time.