As the end of the year approaches I have had a lot of young students drop their resumes into the salon, contact us on facebook, email resumes, call the salon ....

We are not currently looking for any apprentices but when we do interview young people for the position I am always surprised at just how little they know about what they are getting into.

So I thought I would just write up some information for anyone looking to start a career in hairdressing.

Here are a few points…

  • Hairdressing apprenticeships in NSW are 3 years full time.
  • I recommend that you visit and take a look at the Pay Guide for hairdressing or just use the paycheck, to view the pay rates as you move through your apprenticeship, they usually change every July with the budget but this will give you an indication of what you will be paid. Also look at the base rate for a qualified hairdresser.
  • As an apprentice you get paid to learn, really how cool is that. Full time study of hairdressing can be up to $20,000 and has a lower chance of full time employment than an apprenticeship pathway (that said some courses will get you more exposure into niche hair industries, hair for film work for example so it’s less employment opportunities for local salons but can be a good way to get into a more niche hair industry but your fighting for jobs at the same time as the people you graduate with- if you’re looking into full time study again do your research and look at what opportunities for employment you will have after study.)
  • So generally you are in the salon 4 days a week and at an RTO or TAFE 1 day a week. This is not always the case now though, as training costs of apprentices becomes higher and the time you have to teach everything gets shorter part-time apprenticeships and school based apprenticeships are becoming popular. In a standard full time apprenticeship you attend TAFE one day a week for two years and the third year is full time in the salon. A school based apprentice has the 1st year of their apprenticeship split over years 11&12 so that after they complete school they begin full time in the salon as a second year and this would be 4 years in total. A part time apprenticeship is just worked out on equivalent hours.
  • Apprenticeships are now competency based so the opportunity to finish sooner is available. I think it would be hard pushed to be confident in all aspects of the trade much shorter than 3 years. So when you begin expect this to be the minimum time then any quicker is a bonus.
  • Salon life always had a reputation for being clicking or for a lack of a better word ‘bitchy’. I have never had this experience. Everyone in the industry that I have been surrounded by wants to share their knowledge and get creative. You can make a lot of friends; it’s just a matter of finding the right salon environment for you. There is loud funky salons, boutique quiet salons and everything in between. Looking at getting into the industry you may not be able to be too picky but have a look around if there is a salon that you think you would be a good fit for, approach them attach a cover letter tell them why you would be an amazing assets to their team.
  • I am a fan of cover letters. I think it’s a good chance for me as employer to see a bit more personality then the resume and for you to tell me why I should hire you. If you have just left school I don’t think your resume needs to be more than one page.
  • Personalize your resume. I know it’s easy to make a one size fits all resume but if I receive a resume saying I want to be a hairdresser or a child care worker – I don’t consider it. I want to hire somebody who is confident they want the position. Make your resume specific for the job you are going for. Sure have your basic resume saved on your computer but before you hit send or print just tweak it a bit for each individual position you apply for.
  • Look at the salons opening hours, if you are going for a full time position this will give you an indication of what hours you may be working. Traditionally salons always traded on a Saturday and late night Thursdays but the industry is changing. Many salons do up to 3 late nights to accommodate clients so think about if you are prepared for that. I have worked a weekend day every week (except a few holidays) since I was 13, I am so used to it. For me I love my day off through the week.


Hairdressing is what you make it, and there are so many opportunities out there, if you are prepared to work hard. It’s an opportunity to have an enjoyable career. You will hear so many hairdressers talking about the passion they have for it. It is never boring; fashion is always changing and as an apprentice when you just think you know what you’re doing you are expected to do more. When you learn a new technique the next one comes out and this can be exciting and fun but when you’re learning and you are still building your own self confidence it can be challenging. So don’t give up.

Good luck and I hope you come to love the industry as much as I do.

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