PUBLISHED: 13:29 03 February 2006 | UPDATED: 09:32 06 May 2010
NAME: Kirsty Jones AGE: 23 PERSONAL: Kirsty has always been interested in fashion and beauty, and as a little girl she loved giving her dolls makeovers. At the age of 15, she got a Saturday job in a local hairdressing salon. Although she didn t get much
NAME: Kirsty Jones
PERSONAL: Kirsty has always been interested in fashion and beauty, and as a little girl she loved giving her dolls makeovers.
At the age of 15, she got a Saturday job in a local hairdressing salon. Although she didn't get much hands-on experience - her main duties involved sweeping up, answering the phone and making tea - she loved the environment and proved popular with her colleagues and the customers.
She was such a hit that when she finished her GCSEs, the owner offered her a full-time job as a trainee. Kirsty began to learn more about hairdressing from working alongside more experienced stylists, and the salon also sent her on a day release course to college.
Kirsty is now a fully qualified stylist and still enjoys working in the salon, although she hopes one day to own a salon of her own.
Hairdressers usually work in salons cutting the hair of customers of all ages and all sexes. And although traditional barbershops do still exist in small numbers, the vast majority of hairdressing salons are now unisex.
As well as cutting hair, hairdressers may also blow-dry, perm or colour hair, or create a whole new style for special occasions.
Before starting work on a client's hair, hairdressers will usually spend some time discussing the client's requirements. While some will have a very clear idea about what they want, others may ask for advice or suggestions from the hairdresser.
Depending on the size and nature of the salon, hairdressers may also be required to do other jobs, such as answering the phone, making appointments and making drinks for customers. They will also be expected to keep the salon and their equipment clean and tidy.
The job can be nine to five, but most hairdressers will have to work Saturdays as this is one of the busiest days of the week, and an increasing number of salons stay open late on one or two evenings to meet the needs of clients who work long hours during the day.
SKILLS & PERSONALITY
Hairdressers need to be creative and good at working with their hands. Fashions can change very quickly in hairdressing so they should be able to monitor new trends and adapt to new techniques very quickly.
As hairdressers spend nearly all of their time working with customers they also need to be friendly and pleasant.
Tact is also an essential quality for hairdressers - sometimes clients may ask for a hairstyle that simply won't suit them in which case the hairdresser will have to suggest an alternative without causing offence. After all, if the client doesn't like their haircut they might not come back - even if the style is what they asked for.
Some perming solutions and hair dyes can be dangerous if applied or stored incorrectly so an awareness of health and safety issues is also important.
Potential clients may judge a salon on the stylists' appearance so hairdressers should also be neat, up-to-the-minute and well groomed.
Although some stylists sit on a stool while cutting hair, others are on their feet all day, which can be tiring, so physical stamina may also be required.
TRAINING & ENTRY REQUIREMENTS
There are no minimum educational requirements for hairdressing - applicants are usually judged on their skill and personality, rather than their academic record.
Many hairdressers start as trainees and learn on the job from observing more experienced colleagues or by studying on day-release at college.
When they first start work, most trainees will perform tasks such as washing hair, sweeping up and making appointments until they gain the experience they need to start cutting hair.
Other hairdressers prefer to take a full-time college course and then start work after they have gained a recognised qualification. NVQs and SVQs are available in hairdressing, and apprenticeships are also available for younger people.
Some universities and colleges also offer foundation degrees and HNDs in hairdressing which may require the equivalent of five grade A to C GCSEs and two A-levels.
EARNINGS & PROSPECTS
Most trainees tend to earn the minimum wage (£4.10 an hour for 18 to 21-year-olds and £3 for under 18s). This will rise with experience and fully trained stylists can expect to earn between £10,500 and £16,000 a year.
At the very top of the professions, it is possible to earn £30,000 or more.
Promotion will usually depend on the size of the salon, but some hairdressers may decide to open their own salon or set up as a mobile hairdresser and visit their clients at home.
Some may go onto specialise in certain styles, techniques or types of hair - for example, specialist Afro-Caribbean hairdressing. Others choose to study for further beauty therapy qualifications or move into wigmaking or trichology, the study of hair and scalp disorders.
There may also be positions available for hairdressers in hospitals, the armed forces and the prison service, or on cruise ships.
There are also a limited number of opportunities for hairdressers to work as freelancers in film and TV make-up departments or on fashion shoots.
"People can be quite conservative when it comes to their hair. It can be a bit frustrating when you think someone would really suit a bold new look and all they want is a trim."
"It's amazing what a difference a good haircut can make. It's always great to see someone leave the salon with an extra spring in their step because I've made them look and feel so much better."
Hairdressing and Beauty Industry Authority (HABIA) www.habia.org.uk