Hairdressing Apprenticeships

Whether you want to be the next celebrity hair stylist, have your hair creations seen on the world's fashion runways or start your own salon empire, a hairdressing apprenticeship could be the perfect opportunity to make that happen.

Hairdressing Apprenticeships

An apprenticeship in hairdressing is one of the best ways to jump into a successful career. Why? Because they give you the practical experience every great hairdresser needs.

You’ll be taught everything from how to dye hair (no more accidental green hairstyles) to customer service. Plus, you’ll earn a wage.

In fact, some of the most legendary hairdressers started out as apprentices. Celebrity hairstylist John Frieda (whose products you’ll most likely use during training) started as an apprentice in his father’s salon. Vidal Sassoon also trained as an apprentice and went on to invent the iconic ‘blunt cut bob’.

Get your teasing combs at the ready as we break down hairdressing apprenticeships.

How do hairdressing apprenticeships work?

An apprenticeship is a school leaver programme created for people over 16 to help them launch a career. You’ll work towards a professional qualification while learning the tricks of the trade with on-the-job training.

With hairdressing apprenticeships, you’ll usually spend around four days a week in a salon or barbershop and the remaining day in classroom training at a college, learning centre or even in-house at the establishment you’re working at.

There are two routes you can take within a hairdressing apprenticeship. You either train to become a hairdresser or a barber.

What do hairdressing apprentices do?

During your apprenticeship, you’ll get real responsibility from day one. You’ll develop your consultation, customer service, administration, health and safety, and hygiene skills for both pathways.

Some apprenticeships might see you getting to grips with hygiene management for around six to 12 months before getting into styling. You’ll also be expected to develop your admin skills with tasks like booking appointments, working on the front desk, and generally assisting and shadowing senior stylists.

Tasks you can expect to do on your hairdressing apprenticeship:

  • Shampooing and conditioning hair

  • Drying and styling hair

  • Mixing/applying dyes and colourants

  • Perming/relaxing hair.

Some of the tasks above will overlap if you take the barber route, but you’ll also learn how to…

  • Shave and trim beards

  • Wash, dry and cut/style hair.

Meet Ruby, a hairdressing apprentice at Stella & Ellen in Chesterfield. Hear all about what it’s like to be an apprentice hairstylist.

Where can you do a hairdressing apprenticeship?

There are probably as many hair salons as there are hair follicles on your head, so there’s a high probability that your local salon would offer hairdressing apprenticeships.

However, there are some really prestigious companies that offer world-class apprenticeships. We break them down below.

Toni & Guy Apprenticeships

If you know anything about this iconic brand, you’d know that it’s had a choke hold on the fashion and beauty industry since the 1960s.

Toni & Guy’s Level 2 apprenticeship gives budding hair artists a taste of the salon life where they’ll take on various tasks, including….

  • Greeting clients

  • Shampooing hair

  • Salon upkeep (cleaning and maintenance)

  • Providing clients with refreshments.

Once you’ve completed your Level 2 apprenticeship, you’ll move on to Level 3, gaining more responsibilities as a hairdresser. 

You’ll cut and style your way towards a promotion that will see you working in the Toni & Guy network, which boasts a range of exciting opportunities, including working on photoshoots and fashion shows. 

London Hairdressing Apprenticeship Academy

The London Hairdressing Academy is a great place to start a career in hairdressing. The LHAA works with over 300 salons and barbers across the capital. It also has state-of-the-art hair salon facilities at its academies located in Borehamwood, Camden, Chiswick, Croydon and Loughton.

LHAA offers three apprenticeships.

  • Level 2 Diploma for Hair Professionals (Hairdressing)

  • Level 2 Diploma for Hair Professionals (Barbering)

  • Level 2 Hairdressing Study Programme

  • Level 2 Barbering Study Programme

  • Level 3 Advanced and Creative Hair Professional

Doing an apprenticeship with The LHAA means getting into the industry quickly, as they ensure you are fully qualified within 18 months. You’re also encouraged to get your name out there by entering national hairdressing competitions, and they even help you create a portfolio.

hairdressing apprenticeships

Saks Apprenticeships

Rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted, Saks Apprenticeships offers all kinds of apprenticeships in hair and beauty, including beauty therapy and nail services.

In terms of hairdressing, Saks offers a…

  • Level 2 Hairdressing Professional Apprenticeship

  • Level 2 Intermediate Barbering Apprenticeship

  • Level 3 apprenticeship in Advanced and Creative Hairdressing.

Westrow Academy

If you’re in or around Leeds, Westrow Academy is the place to be. The award-winning academy offers three apprenticeship courses…

  • Level 2 Intermediate Hairdressing Apprenticeship

  • Level 3 Advanced Hairdressing Apprenticeship

  • Level 2 Intermediate Barbering Apprenticeship.

Once you’ve finished your apprenticeship, they’ll help you find a salon job.

Rush Hair

Starting with one store in 1994, Rush Hair now has over 90 salons all over the capital.

The creative hair company offers a Level 2 apprenticeship in hairdressing. You’ll get that all-important on-the-job training and attend a dedicated training school one day a week. Tasks will include…

  • Learning how to master the famous Rush backwash experience

  • Assist the stylist team on the shop floor with styling and colouring client’s hair

  • Learn about Rush’s extensive range of products and give clients ‘best practice’ hair care tips post-hair appointments.

You’ll also get mega-cool perks, including a 40% friends and family discount and 28 days of holiday (plus bank holidays). Once you’ve completed your 15-month apprenticeship, you’ll be hired to work for Rush full-time.

There are so many employers that finding the perfect one can feel overwhelming. We can help with that. Check our Best 100 Apprenticeship Employers - voted for by apprentices.

View Best Employer Tables

"“In hairdressing, you’re constantly learning new skills. Whether it’s new techniques to use on clients, in everyday life, or through videos and courses, you find new ways to improve your skill set and achieve great looks.”" Hairdresser at The Salon
Browse Hairdressing apprenticeship review

How long is an apprenticeship in hairdressing?

Level 2 hairdressing apprenticeships take between 12 and 15 months, and a Level 3 apprenticeship will take around the same time. So if you decide to go all the way, you’ll be in training for up to three years.

The time you spend training will be well worth it. By the time you’ve finished your apprenticeship, you’ll become a fully qualified hairdresser ready for a career full of possibilities.

What qualifications do you need to be an apprentice hairdresser?

Entry requirements for a hairdressing apprenticeship vary between employers.

Employers want to know they are taking on apprentices with a natural flair for hair styling. For example, FG Apprenticeships are looking for passionate and creative candidates who believe they have what it takes to become the best hairdresser they can be.

Even if you don’t have salon experience yet, things like hairstyle sketches - or doing a friend's hair on the weekend and posting it on Instagram are great ways to show interest.

If you’re still at school, talk to your local salon, as they could take you as a junior for weekend, evening or holiday roles. It will go a long way in scoring a place on an apprenticeship.

If you’re ready to apply, we have some super helpful application advice to get you started. 

In terms of entry requirements, an employer will usually want the following…

  • For a Level 2 Intermediate apprenticeship, two or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D)

  • For a Level 3 advanced apprenticeship, five GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C).

If you don’t have the GCSEs - that’s okay! Many Level 2 hairdressing apprenticeships don’t require you to have any formal qualifications. However, to be able to move onto a Level 3 apprenticeship, you’ll need to take a functional skills test in maths and english.

Once you’re in, you’ll work towards a diploma. Either way, an apprenticeship will give you the roots you need to have a successful hairdressing career.

Ever wanted to know what it’s like to do a final assessment in a barbering apprenticeship? Watch as Max takes his final test before becoming a fully qualified barber.

What is the minimum wage for a hairdresser apprentice?

As an apprentice, you'll earn while studying from the first day of your career. Currently, the average apprentice earns a minimum wage of £5.28 per hour. 

However, many employers pay a lot more.

Hairdressing apprentices can earn anything between £7,600 to £16,000 a year. Once you qualify and move onto full-time work, your wage could bump up to £20,000 per year.

A career in hairdressing and barbering is both thrilling and fulfilling. No day is the same, and you’ll meet so many people. 

One day you could be styling hair for a fashion show, and the next day working on location for a film. It’s honestly life-changing stuff. An apprenticeship will give you all the tools you need to make that happen.

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