So you want to work in beauty and hairdressing?

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The British hairdressing and beauty industry employs about 250,000 people and is all about making people look and feel good. The quality of your work will be immediately felt or seen, so this means you will carry a lot of responsibility. Working environments are generally comfortable and pleasant, with hairdressing salons slightly livelier than beauty treatment salons and clinics, which aim for a calming, relaxing atmosphere.

What qualities do I need to work in this sector?

This is an industry where it is all about looking good. You need to have patience, tact and good listening skills, so you can really understand your clients' needs properly.

Creativity is highly valued in hairdressing, while a caring, sensitive nature is considered very important in beauty therapy.

You also have to be prepared to work hard – much of the work involves being on your feet all the time. You need to be flexible and prepared to work during some weekends and evenings.

What qualifications will I need?

Most people have vocational qualifications and, although some have academic qualifications, these are rarely a requirement. The majority of people working in hairdressing have some form of vocational qualification, with two-thirds trained to National Vocational Qualification/Scottish Vocational Qualification (NVQ/SVQ) Level 2 standard.

More than 80 per cent of people working in beauty therapy hold general beauty therapy qualifications, most of which are NVQs/SVQs and complementary therapy certificates.

What range of jobs is available?

Jobs in hairdressing are mostly on the salon floor, working with clients. They include stylists, colour technicians and specialist hairdressers dealing with different hair types. Jobs in beauty also involve working one-to-one with clients, as nail technicians, laser therapists, beauty therapists, makeup artists, image consultants and personal shoppers. Trends are often driven by the models that appear in magazines and on the television, displaying styles created by stylists, hairdressers and makeup artists.

Can I get a job straight from school?

Yes, many school leavers have gone straight into jobs as trainees in hairdressing salons, whereas beauty therapists have usually taken a full-time course at a further education college or private training school.

In addition, Apprenticeships (Skillseekers in Scotland) are available in the industry for many jobs.

What about future prospects?

This is a growth industry and there are excellent opportunities to train and develop new skills in many areas.

It is also possible to move easily after training from one area such as beauty therapy to another, such as hairdressing.

Two growth areas are beauty clinics specialising in technical treatments such as laser therapy, microdermabrasion, liposuction and botox, and clubs that offer beauty and well-being treatments in a health and fitness setting.

Health and Beauty Careers

Modified: 16 June 2013

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