Job Description (What the job involves)
Salon assistants are often the unsung heroes of the salon; the person that gave you that wonderful scalp massage during your shampoo and rinse or a welcome cup of tea whilst you waited on your hair stylist. Without them a salon would become a place of chaos.
The role of a salon assistant is an essential position in any salon. Not only do salon assistants aid hair stylists and help ensure the smooth running of a salon but for many aspiring stylists it means their foot in the door of a salon operation and a step on the first rung of a career ladder in the hairdressing industry,
A junior position within a hair salon, the role is usually therefore taken up by by people with an ambition to become a hairdresser or colour technician. It’s a role where you learn the ropes of the job and this can literally start from sweeping the salon floor.
You’ll be expected to do a myriad of duties;
- answer phones
- greet clients and provide them with refreshments
- prepare clients for treatment
- shampoo clients hair
- disinfect equipment
- sweep floors
- Fold towels
- keep the salon clean and tidy
- stock the retail areas
- generally assist hairdressers whether it be combing a client’s hair, fetching something, mixing colours
- retail hair care products
- assist on the front desk answering calls and booking appointments
Some salon assistants will already have just qualified with an NVQ level in hairdressing whilst others might still be in training to acquire their hairdressing qualifications and be afforded day release to attend college in support of gaining their NVQ level 2 hairdressing qualification.
Most reputable salons will also have a structured in-house training program which will enable the salon assistants to progress through the salon ranks to becoming a hair stylist themselves. This process will often involve shadowing a senior stylist to observe, assist practice skills such as blow drying and eventually cutting, foils and even colouring.
Once qualified and trained to the salons standard a salon assistant will progress to the salon floor and acquire their own column of clients.
Hours and Working Environment
Salon assistants work within hair salons usually on a 5 day working rota (often including a Saturday). Some salons are open during the evenings. If you haven’t yet achieved your NVQ level 2 in hairdressing you’ll often be allowed day release to attend college.
Upsides and Downsides
You’re working towards a purposeful career goal and are able to learn while you gain experience. Like many jobs the more you put into the work the more you’ll get out of it.
Some salon assistants feel like they’re a bit of a gopher! The hours can be long with a lot of time spent on your feet.
Be aware that many stylists can suffer from neck, shoulder and back ache as a result of standing for long periods in one positions and also suffer allergies to products use or overuse. Hairdressing can be a fairly toxic environment if adequate precautions aren’t taken.
Skills and Personal Qualities
- Passion for hairdressing and drive to succeed
- Ambition to progress hairdressing career and become a hair stylist, colourist or salon manager
- Good personality
- Quick learner
- Good team player
- Self motivated and driven
- Commitment and Effort
- Willingness to learn and practice
The requirements for hairdressing assistants varies from salon to salon. Some salons will require NVQ levels 1 and 2 together with 1 year of salon experience whilst other salons will require no previous hairdressing qualifications or experience.
When choosing the salon for your salon assistant position make sure you select a salon that is a good fit for you. Check the location, decor, general vibe of the salon and whether it’s a good match for your personality and taste. Also check out their training provision and satisfy yourself that within a year or two at the most you too will be out there on the salon floor. Always opt for the salon that is a stickler for quality. You’ll come out a better stylist yourself because of it.
Opportunities and Progression
Most salon assistants will progress to become a hair stylist or colourist after a year or two of taking the position. The more energy and commitment you put into the role and the more opportunities and advantages you take to put your skills into practice the sooner you’ll progress up the hairdressing career ladder and with it your earnings.
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Potential Salary and Benefits
Salon assistants typically earn minimum wage but can often earn commission on top via retail sales and tips. But if you persevere and progress to take your place on the salon floor earnings can be good