What does a hairdresser do?

A hairdresser's main tasks involve the washing, cutting, styling, perming and colouring of customers' hair. Hairdressers also recommend and perform scalp and hair treatments for clients. They often need to undertake reception and administration duties including answering the phone, scheduling appointments, maintaining client records and taking payments. Many hairdressers also have a role in selling hair products to customers so they can maintain their hairstyle between visits.

Tasks:

  • Discussing client expectations clearly
  • Washing, cutting and styling of hair
  • Performing scalp and hair treatments
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Establishing good rapport with clients

What skills do I need to be a hairdresser?

Hairdressers need to be able to work well with a variety of people. It is important that they communicate clearly, listen well and are able to follow detailed instructions. Creativity is another important attribute for hairdressers to have, understanding what styles and colours will work for each individual and bringing it to life. Successful hairdressers benefit from maintaining attention to detail in their work to ensure their customers are happy. Administration skills are another valuable asset to ensure that customer bookings, cash handling and client records are all kept accurately.

Skills/attributes
  • Strong communication and listening skills
  • Creativity
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Good attention to detail
  • Administration skills 

Specialisations

Hairdressers have opportunities for specialisation as their careers progress, although options are more limited than in some other professions. Hairdressers can take their experience in recommending products for customers to move into retail and sales roles, while others broaden their skill set to include other beauty therapy techniques and become beauticians. Experienced hairdressers may also move into salon management or ownership.

Retail and sales

Almost all hairdressers will find some portion of their day-to-day role dedicated to recommending and selling products to clients. Those who decide to move into full time retail and sales roles build on this expertise to sell bulk stock and new hair products to salons and department stores. These sales-focused roles can also include marketing tasks, merchandising responsibilities, and customer satisfaction research.

Beauty therapists

Hairdressers often work alongside beauticians in their day-to-day roles and some decide to expand their skill set to include the delivery of beauty treatments such as make up applications, spray tans, hair removal and massage. Once a hairdresser moves into a beautician role they can work in day spas, beauty salons or out of their own home.

Salon management

Experienced hairdressers can move into management roles, either by opening their own salon or by managing a salon for the owner. These roles include staff and budget management, property leases and maintenance responsibilities, stock purchasing, as well as marketing and advertising.

Study pathways for hairdressers

The vast majority of hairdressers enter the industry through apprenticeships, though it is also possible to move into the hairdressing industry by obtaining a certificate or diploma in hairdressing through vocational study.

Getting Started

Learn about the ins and outs of salon life with introductory courses

Skill Building

Further your beauty therapy career goals with targeted courses 

Professional Development

Master new skills and take your career in beauty therapy to the next level

Industry Recognition

Joining a professional or industry body on completion of your training can improve your employment opportunities and potential salary rates.

Getting a job after graduation

Put your training to good use and get the best professional head start in your beauty therapy career. Emphasise your personal strengths and achievements in your resume and target your cover letter to the job description listed.

Job Prospects and Salaries

The demand for hairdressing services is large, meaning unemployment rates for trained hairdressers are very low. Hairdressing roles do tend to have flexible hours, which many find appealing.