how to become a hairdresser

Everyone must have used a hairdresser they loved, and a hairdresser they never went back to again. What makes a hairdresser special? Skill alone or is there more to it? What is the key to success? Well, if you love hair and working creatively with your hands but you also have a knack with people, then hairdressing could be your calling. As a hairdresser, you hold peoples hopes and fears in your hands. Managing expectations, and translating their desires creatively to result in their perfect hairdo is a must. As a hairdresser you cut, colour and style your client’s hair, you may also do some administration tasks on reception. There is also an element of sales to your work, as you discuss what your client would like to have done, and gently inspire them into action. Hairdressers are widely used across in all communities across the continent, so finding work is easy. Once you hone your skills and gain experience. You have many opportunities which open to you in the form of career progression. Including opportunities to pursue self-employment. 

If you are creative, sociable, and you are good at inspiring people. Then pursuing a career in hairdressing could be a very lucrative opportunity. Check out the steps you need to take to become a hairdresser in Australia and to make your dreams come true.

Step one: Enrol in a beauty or salon course

Studying is not a prerequisite for seeking work as a trainee hairdresser because employers provide training on the job. Yet, taking the time to study first prepare you and give you an extra edge over other applicants. The fact you have pursued education also demonstrates your passion for the industry. The other advantage of taking a course first is you learn a foundation of knowledge. Including general salon running skill. These things will stand you in good stead when starting your first job, as well as preparing you for career progression.

Step two: Look for work as a junior/ trainee hairdresser

After you have finished your training (well done you), you can begin to apply for your first job. Usually, you can find an entry-level position at a salon, and they will train you once you start work. Make sure you tailor your resume and cover letter to include all the details of your qualifications, passions, and any relevant experience you might have in the beauty industry.

Step three: Build up experience and expertise

Once you have found your first job in a salon you should focus on your on-the-job training. Build up your experience and perfect your skills. As time goes by you will begin to get a feel for your strengths, as well as the elements of your work you enjoy the most. Then, you can begin to think about if you want to progress your career in any way.

Step four: Consider a specialisation

You can use hairdressing as a springboard into many different directions. You can do this after gaining qualifications and building up your experience. Some people might find they enjoy the admin side of the work, and use their experience in the salon to move into admin in another industry. Or others may want to remain in beauty but learn some new skills, such as nails, waxing, makeup. You can consider starting up your own salon and moving into a managerial role. You may also consider one of these specialisations.

Retail and Sales

Most hairdressers will use sales techniques as a part of their everyday work. As you work with clients you discuss their needs and recommend products to them. For those of you who excel in sales while hairdressing you might like to focus your career by progressing into a full-time retail sales role. This means you move to selling bulk stock and hair products to the salons and department stores themselves. Your personal experience as a hairdresser. The understanding you have of what works for people will provide invaluable experience for this role.

Beauty Therapists

A good idea to increase your opportunities is to increase the skills you have. Hairdressers can learn new skills and progress to become a beautician. Beauticians can apply makeup, spray tans, hair removal, and massage. When you have mastered all these skills you can increase the places you can work to include day spas, beauty salons or even work from home.

Salon Management

Your experience working in the hairdressing salon can also inform a step into management. You could manage the salon on behalf of a salon owner. Or even consider becoming a salon owner yourself. Managers or manager owners are responsible for different tasks. Such as leasing the salon space, staff recruitment, budgeting, purchasing stock, marketing, and advertising.

What are the Duties of a Hairdresser?

The main focus of your work is the washing, cutting, styling, perming and colouring of your client’s hair. You may also apply special hair or scalp treatments. You use your social skills to build a rapport with your clients and establish what they would like to achieve with their haircut. You will also play a part in selling hair products and different services the salon offer to your clients. As well as practising your craft, you carry out general administration at the salon. You might find yourself answering the phone, scheduling appointments, keeping records, taking payments. 


  • Discussing expectations with your clients
  • Washing, cutting and styling hair
  • Applying scalp and hair treatments
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Establishing rapport with your clients

Skills for success

As a hairdresser it is important you can listen and communicate well with people. You will cut people’s hair who come to the salon from all walks of life. People need to find you relate to them and they can relate to you. You should be a creative person and have a passion for everything hair. Your pallet and muse is the person you are working for, and you should aim to bring the best out of their hair every time. Paying attention to detail is important to make sure you have happy clients every time. You will be carrying out administration tasks at the salon, so developing those skills is important. Records, invoices, appointment schedules all need accuracy and care to avoid mistakes.

Skills and attributes

  • Very good communication and listening skills
  • Creativity, their hair should be your muse
  • Good hand-eye coordination
  • Pay attention to details
  • Basic administration skills

What do Hairdressers earn in Australia?

In Australia, hairdressers earn a median wage of $42,016 per year. This varies according to a number of factors and is intended as a reference only, from Payscale 05/’18.

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