Be a Cut Above the Rest

The Hair Stylist

The hairdresser is involved in helping a person make the most of their appearance. It is a fast moving profession with many exciting opportunities available. The hairdressing industry is continually developing and changing, creating an increasing range of styles that can be used.

The trainee hairdresser has to learn everything about their chosen career and will follow a stage-by-stage process in order to become a fully qualified hairdresser.

Most of the 170,000 hairdressers working in the UK do so within the 36,000 salons within the UK. There are also a number of other means of employment within the hairdressing industry, from working in private homes, either their own or other clients, self employment within their own salon, or by entering into a franchise agreement with a regional or national hairdressing company.


In general, hairdressers will cut and style hair, but this is not what they all do. They will firstly consult with the client in question over what they require, then by making suggestions on the style or treatment which could be used the stylist and client will come to a conclusion of which style/technique will be utilised.

The junior, or apprentice who is still underoing training will wash, condition and rinse hair, assist the stylists and will continually be taught the more skilled tasks, such as blow drying and colouring.

The junior is normally also responsible for certain other tasks involved in the overall maintenance of the salon. These tasks may include reception duties, answering the telephone, making appointments, stock control, sorting and supplying towels, gowns and other linen, cleaning, assisting clients with their coats and bags, and supplying refreshments for fellow staff and clients.

A good level of dexterity, a pleasant and friendly manner, good communication skills, understanding, patience and concentration, care and good grooming are essential.

A good hairdresser will also be interested in art and fashion, to be able to appreciate different styles and keep up to date, in order to translate the latest fashion trends into commercial, wearable hairstyles. Creativity, enthusiasm, self-motivation, stamina and a good level of fitness are also important.


Many further education colleges offer a number of full-time courses in Hairdressing. They start from the Profile of Achievement in Hairdressing, which involves an introduction to the industry and the key skills involved. The next stage is the NVQ Level 1, covering basic hair and salon skills, then NVQ Level 2, covering more advanced hair skills and key skills and finally NVQ Level 3, which covers the higher technical skills, training skills, supervisory skills, salon management and organisation skills. Assessment throughout is continuous within a realistic salon environment.

Opportunities are also available to study NVQ Hairdressing levels 2 and 3 on a part-time basis. Some colleges also run a number of short, specialist intensive hairdressing programmes, in topics such as long hair, specialist cutting and perming and fashion colouring.

For further information on courses, please contact your local college or careers service.

This article appears with thanks to Calderdale College and first appeared in the Halifax Courier.


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