What is an apprenticeship?
Apprenticeships enable you to practically learn your trade as
well as studying to gain the theory and enable you to receive
your qualification. They are aimed at young people aged 16 and
over to enable them to earn money whilst gaining experience
in a hairdressing environment. An apprenticeship in hairdressing
will normally involve you working in the salon every day bar
one or two when you will be attending college. It can take up
to 5 years to qualify as a hairdresser so if you have the patience
and the commitment to keep at it then an apprenticeship would
be for you.
Why do an apprenticeship?
An apprenticeship enables you to earn money whilst working and
gaining qualifications. You can use an apprenticeship to gain
NVQ (National Vocational Qualification) levels which is what
you need to become a qualified hairdresser. In addition to that
you will also gain how ever many years experience in the practical
environment as opposed to all that time studying just the theory
at college. Employers like to see that their future employees
are keen to learn and because of this salon owners are usually
very keen to take on apprentices.
Will I enjoy an apprenticeship?
When thinking about undertaking a hairdressing apprenticeship,
you should be certain that this is the career path you wish
to take. You need to be really focussed to be successful and
know that you will need to put in the work and organise your
time really well. You must be prepared to be responsible for
balancing your time at work with studying in order to get the
most out of it; you can’t just work in the salon and not go
to college because this doesn’t meet the requirements of partaking
in an apprenticeship scheme. You should also be prepared to
be able to work as part of a team and as an individual.
How long does an apprenticeship take?
This can vary from 1 year to 5; it is dependent on the contract
you have drawn up with your employer and on your own ability
How do I apply to become an apprentice?
You can call the National Apprenticeships Helpline on 08000
150600. They will provide you with information as to where your
nearest opportunities are and advise you on the career you wish
to take. They will have access to many employers and be able
to advise you on where learning providers are in your area.
You can also get in touch with employers directly and ask them
if they take on apprentices or would be interested in doing
so. If they do, then they will probably arrange to meet you
as they would a proper employee and interview you to ensure
you would be a good investment for them to make.
Use the internet as a tool to help you find where takes on apprentices
in your area. Additionally, look in your local newspaper and
visit your nearest job centre. You have to make sure you choose
the right apprentice scheme to embark upon as well so look upon
it as finding a job. Make sure you do your research before applying
to ensure that you would be happy working there if you got offered
What are NVQ’s?
NVQ stands for National Vocational Qualification (or in Scotland
SVQ’s). They are work-based qualifications that are achieved
effectively by learning on the job. The Level represents what
progression stage the candidate is at and these range from levels
1 to 5. They are competence based and so cover all the main
aspects of hairdressing and your progress is measure and assessed
How are they achieved?
They are achieved through on the job assessment. You will be
required to answer questions and demonstrate that you are competent
in the criteria you will be being marked against. An NVQ comprises
of different units and when the candidate has displayed that
they can meet the requirements of the unit, it will be signed
off by the assessor and this process continues until all the
units in the level are completed.
The first step is to gain your NVQ Level 1. This shows that
you have the competence to apply your knowledge doing a range
of varied activities, mainly ones which are routine. For example,
shampooing and assisting the technicians in the salon. This
is aimed to be an induction to the industry and primarily undertaken
by young people at school gaining their work experience.
To then become a competent hairdresser, you would take your
NVQ Level 2. This would promote you to a junior position and
is really the minimum level that you need to be able to work
effectively within a salon.
Gaining your NVQ Level 3 is normally the most desired level
to be at by hairdressers who want to be successful. This enables
you to perform technical skills, for example, fashion cutting,
and expands greatly on the skills and knowledge that would have
been acquired whilst undertaking Level 2. Level 3 needs to be
gained if you would be looking to manage a salon or have your
An NVQ Level 4 enables you to effectively become your own boss.
This level requires a substantial amount of personal responsibility
and involves applying your gained knowledge and experience into
a large range of technical, complex and professional activities
Degree in Hairdressing
Foundation degrees are Higher Education qualifications that
are designed in partnership with employers to make sure that
students gain all the relevant knowledge and skills to enter
into the industry of hairdressing. A foundation degree can be
taken as a full time course or part-time to enable you to still
work. If the latter is the case, the degree then enables you
to develop the skills that are required and the whole issue
of flexibility is brought into the equation. Embarking on a
foundation degree means that you can continue to work and fit
in your studies around your job and you gain the ability to
be able to work from a distance and even online.
Studying at work
As foundation degrees are designed by the industry for the industry,
working in the same environment as the course you are taking
is highly advantageous. For some partnerships with salons and
the education authority, the courses will be specifically developed
to ensure that you gain all the skills that meet with their
needs. Working in the industry can significantly help your progress
through the course as the practical aspect would undoubtedly
help when you come to be assessed. If you take up a foundation
degree within your job, this also enables you to gain the full
support of your employer, as opposed to having to ask for time
off, for example when exams are creeping up and the job you
are in bears no relevance to your chosen career path.
This option is usually take by people going straight from doing
their A-Levels into college. Taking a foundation degree full
time usually takes 2 years to complete. The benefit of taking
a full-time degree is that then the student is ready to enter
the industry fully prepared with the knowledge and required
to be successful.
If you have other commitments, for example, you work full-time,
then taking the foundation degree on a part-time basis may be
more suitable to your needs. This usually takes about 3 or 4
years to complete if you do it in this way.
Foundation degrees are good for the hairdressing industry because,
as they are designed in conjunction with the potential employers
of the students, they are capturing everything that needs to
be learnt, and the having the course so specifically tailored
to meet the industry’s needs means that by whatever means you
gain your degree you are will enter the sector fully equipped
with the correct, and more importantly, relevant skills and
There is the option after completing a foundation degree to
go on and work towards gaining an Honours degree, and this can
take you just 12-15 months further study as opposed to the normal
3-4 years it would take if you began a Bachelors degree from