How to Get Into Hairdressing or Barbering
For jobs in hairdressing or barbering you will need to have a unique combination of skills and will also require a great deal of training. Rewarding opportunities such as salon management positions and hairdressing jobs overseas are all achievable for ambitious hairdressers. To be a competent hairdresser you will have to possess an almost unrivalled level of ability in a vast array of skills.
Hairdressers use a range of cutting and styling techniques to enhance the personal appearance and confidence of clients. They may work in a salon catering for men, women and children. Some salons specialise in particular styles and clients. For example, African-Caribbean hairdressing techniques include pressing, braiding, plaiting and attaching hair extensions, while traditional male barber services may include trimming beards and moustaches.
Characteristics of a hairdresser
A hairdresser should have:
* excellent interpersonal skills, and be able to talk with clients in a relaxed manner
* good listening ability to interpret clients’ requests
* the ability to work quickly and accurately with their hands
* an element of creativity and artistic sense
* a caring, positive attitude
* a smart personal appearance and good personal hygiene
* good manual dexterity
* punctuality and the ability to stay calm when under pressure
* stamina, as they are on their feet for most of the day
* a willingness to learn new techniques and keep their skills up to date.
Getting into the hairdressing industry
The main routes into hairdressing are:
* applying to a salon as a trainee/junior, learning on the job and attending college on day release
* doing a full-time or part-time college course – it is important to make sure that the course leads to a recognised qualification
* via an Apprenticeship.
There are many places to find current hairdressing job opportunities including local newspapers or visiting a salon in person. More and more salons however are choosing to use online job boards. This makes registering your details with salonjobseeker.com an excellent idea for both current and future job seeking.
There are no minimum entry qualifications to begin training as a hairdresser. The right personal qualities are usually regarded as more important than academic ability.
Entrants work towards vocational qualifications, such as NVQs/SVQs in Hairdressing. Level 1 covers the basic introductory skills needed for a career as an assistant hairdresser; Level 2 includes the essential skills needed for hairdressers; and Level 3 covers more advanced hairdressing techniques and management skills.
The job description
New trainees usually spend most of their time greeting customers, washing towels and replenishing stock items, washing hair, and keeping the salon clean and tidy together with reception duties in some cases. Much of their training involves observing experienced stylists carrying out tasks such as:
* consulting and advising clients
* shampooing and conditioning hair
* trimming, cutting, layering or thinning hair
* blow-drying and styling
* diagnosing hair and scalp problems
* putting hair up, or pinning and accessorising hair for special occasions.
As trainees gain experience, they may start to practise these techniques on mannequins and then client models.
Progressing in hairdressing
Experienced hairdressers may also decide to work towards more advanced qualifications, such as:
* City & Guilds Level 4 Higher Professional Certificate or Diploma in Technical Salon Management
* a Foundation degree in hairdressing or creative hairdressing, combined with salon management
* degrees in beauty therapy.
Hairdressers working in television and theatre normally have experience in make-up as well.
Hair fashions change quickly, with new techniques and products constantly being introduced. Hairdressers must follow trends and keep their skills fresh. Manufacturers of hair products frequently offer short courses. Larger salons may have an academy or senior stylists who travel around demonstrating cutting techniques for the latest styles.
The hair and beauty industry is fast becoming one of the most exciting, popular industries for young people to start a career in. This position will ensure that British hairdressing continues to be regarded amongst the best in the world.
By Roger Pettit
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