Keeping us tidy
Fashions change and the way we want to style our hair, beards and nails alters all the time. But unless we all suddenly decide that the ‘crazed people of the wilderness’ look is in this year, no matter what the fashion we’re always going to need hairdressers, barbers and beauty therapists to keep our hair under control, our nails in good shape and our skin looking splendid.
Types of apprenticeship
You could follow an apprenticeship in barbering, hairdressing, nail services and more with employers across the UK – there are more than 40,000 establishments that you could work in.
About the hair and beauty industry
Over 245,000 people work in hair and beauty across the UK. You’ll find them in nail bars, spas, salons, barbers and specialist establishments (such as African-Caribbean hair salons). Together they add some £6.2billion to the UK economy every year, and the good news is that as long as those hairs and nails keep growing, the customers are going to keep on coming. Scissors on standby…
What can I do?
Some of the careers available in the industry are ones you’d expect. They might include working in a hairdressing salon as a stylist, for example, or in a barber’s shop shaping and trimming facial hair as well as cutting the stuff on top of our heads. Within those locations there are other roles, too – you might specialise in colouring hair, putting in extensions or even managing the salon.
Similarly, you could be shaping, polishing and decorating nails in a nail bar, or offering a range of services in a spa. They might include massages and therapies, hand and feet treatments or body waxing. Alternatively, you might focus on facial treatments or makeup, or use the whole body as your canvas and work in spray tanning.
As well as these roles there are more specialist areas where you can use your skills. For example, some makeup artists go on to work in the fashion industry, helping models prepare for photoshoots or catwalk shows; or they can be found in film, TV and theatre, giving performers the right look.
You may also end up running your own business – some 40% of those working in the industry are self employed.
Fashion and beauty skills
To get ahead in fashion and beauty you’ll need a range of personal and professional skills. That includes proficiency with the tools of the trade – scissors, razors, brushes, dyes and more – and skilled hands, but also great people skills. You’ll be spending a lot of time getting quite close to people, so you need to be friendly, calm and confident to put them at ease.
Just as important is a passion for fashion, as trends and styles are evolving all the time so you’ll need to keep up. You’ll also need to stay up to date with the latest products and techniques, so you can provide your clients with the best service.
You’ll develop lots of these skills during your training, but a love of fashion and beauty can’t be taught – so if you have it already, it’s a good chance to turn that passion into a great career.
Fashion and beauty careers
Roles available might include:
- Beauty therapy – beauty therapist, makeup artist, beauty consultant, beauty massage therapist
- Hairdressing and barbering – barber, stylist, hairdresser, colourist
- Nail services and spa therapy – nail technician, spa therapist
In all these areas there are also administrative roles (such as receptionists) and the chance to progress to senior positions such as supervisor or manager.
Rather than just grabbing the scissors and starting to snip, you can find apprenticeships and jobs in the industry at Careermap, Habia also has information on apprenticeships and what employers look for in their apprentices.
Routes into the hair and beauty industry include:
- Vocational qualifications / A Levels
- Scottish Vocational Qualifications
- Foundation Degrees (England and Wales only)
- Bachelors Degrees
Earn and learn
Apprenticeships have traditionally been a popular way to get into the hair and beauty industry. The new Apprenticeship standards (in development at the moment) will make sure you get exactly the skills you need for the job, from nail polishing to moustache waxing, as well as earning a wage and gaining qualifications at college.
Hair and beauty apprenticeships currently include:
- Beauty therapy
- Nail services
- Spa therapy
Each area is quite different and will demand different sets of skills, so employers will work together with learning providers (such as colleges) to put together a programme that will prepare you for the industry.
Levels of Apprenticeship
There are hair and beauty apprenticeships at two levels:
Level Two (Intermediate) – equivalent to GCSEs / Standard Grades
Level Three (Advanced) – equivalent to A Levels / Highers
Apprenticeships are changing a lot this year so keep an eye on careermap.co.uk to see what’s available. What won’t change are the opportunities in each profession: you’ll still be able to learn the basics with a level two qualification, then progress onto more senior roles as you improve your knowledge and skills.
Life as a hair and beauty apprentice
First of all, do you like people? It’s a pretty essential part of the job: if you don’t fancy the idea of working close to, touching, chatting with and generally pampering people for most of your working day, this might not be the industry for you. Your clients will want someone they trust and enjoy being with to massage them, cut their hair or put on their makeup, after all.
What will I be doing?
There are no huge companies in this area, so chances are you’ll be part of a small team – the majority of salons employ fewer than ten people.
Some of the day to day activities will be fairly self explanatory: in hairdressing and barbering you’ll be learning to cut hair, for instance. But there’s more to it than that, as you’ll also pick up skills in styling, colouring, shaving, maintaining good hygiene in the salon and keeping track of appointments. In a spa you’ll learn about the different kinds of therapies, while in a nail bar you’ll have to learn about the various chemicals involved and how to use them safely, as well as working on your artistic flair. In some barbers’ shops you’ll even learn how to use fire to scorch hairs from faces. (Yes, that’s a thing.)
Being an apprentice also means making the step from school or college into the world of work, which comes with its own set of responsibilities. That can be anything from making sure you arrive on time to having a good attitude when you’re asked to sweep the floor – everyone, even the top stylists in the world, started at the bottom, after all.
You’ll also need to strike a balance between work, study and socialising. But at least when you go out, you’ll be able to get ready in style using your newfound skills.
You could work in…
- Barber’s shops
- Nail bars
- Spa facilities
- Hotels and conference centres
- Hair and makeup units on film and TV sets
Find apprenticeships and jobs in the hair and beauty industry near you at careermap.co.uk