• Background South West

  • career-training

    Sector Overview

    Hair & Beauty

    • The industry turnover in 2012 was £6.2 billion

    • Over 250,000 people are employed in the sector

    • There has been a 66% increase in male customers at beauty salons

    • Hair treatments are by far the most popular kind of treatment in the sector

    • Supermarkets have been tipped to move in to the hair and beauty sector, with some in-store salons already being trialled!

    • 67% of workers in the industry are employed as hairdressers or barbers

    This is a very popular choice for students who want to study a vocational subject, and it’s a career that can take you practically anywhere you want. After all, every town and city needs a hairdresser and barber!

    It’s not just about working in a high-street salon, hair and beauty professionals are needed in a variety of walks of life. Military bases require qualified hairdressers, as do prisons. Many choose to couple hairdressing with care positions and work in hospitals and care homes, which might involve providing specialist hair treatment for those there hair through treatments or illness.

    This is a very popular profession for those who wish to own their own business, and even if you don’t want your own salon, many choose to go freelance, renting a chair at a local spa.


    Hair & Beauty


    It’s all about the hair here; you’ll be cutting, styling, colouring, washing, perming and making people’s hair look exactly how they want it to. You will begin as an apprentice working in a salon before gradually taking on more and more responsibility as you complete your training. Many professionals move on to setting up their own businesses or even go into the film and television industry as part of the make-up department – the ambitious will always be rewarded in this role. Salaries begin at around £10,000, but rise to £16,000 with experience and qualifications.

    Spa Therapy

    “Ahhh that’s better” – a phrase you’ll hear constantly in this career. Spa tourism contributes £1.4 billion a year to the UK economy and is growing all the time (everybody is so stressed these days). Spa Therapists offer a range of treatments that help improve somebody’s well being, such as facials, massages, aromatherapy and saunas. You can specialize in a particular area, such as holistic treatment, or have a general knowledge of all areas. Starting salary is between £12,000 and £14,000 a year.

    Nail Technician

    Manicures and pedicures are the order of the day in this career; you will be focusing on improving and maintaining the skin and nails on both hands and feet. This might be through treatments such as hot wax therapy and foot wraps, or more artistic work such as airbrushing designs onto nails. This is for those who like to combine art and practicality, as you will have to have an eye for the creative and a steady hand to make those designs look good. You can expect to earn between £12,000 and £17,000 a year in this field, which is dependent on qualifications and experience.

    Beauty Therapy

    Like Spa therapy, you will be tasked with enhancing the well-being of clients through a range of different methods, such as various different types of makeup (that’s mascara, lipstick, eye-shadow etc to you lads) or electronic treatments and hair removal methods. The salaries vary depending on whether you work for a department store or a private firm, but the average starting salary is between £12,000 and £17,000 a year.


    Hair & Beauty


    The majority of people aged 18-30 in this sector have an apprenticeship, so it’s always a good place to start. Half your learning will be on the job and half in the classroom and you can do them in a range of subjects from barbering to spa therapy. Here are some of the Apprenticeship frameworks relevant to this sector with the careers you will see and they will result in a level 2 qualification such as an NVQ, BTEC or Diploma.
    Hairdressing • Beauty Therapy • Beauty Therapy (Make-up) • Nail Services

    Advanced Apprenticeships

    Like an apprenticeship, these are great for people who prefer to work while they learn. Many people find that it’s a natural progression to go onto Level 3 because of the experience they get from doing so. A Level 3 qualification is yours for upon completion, such as an NVQ, BTEC or Diploma. Here are the relevant Apprenticeship Frameworks for your sector:
    Hairdressing/Barbering • Beauty Therapy • Nail Services

    College Courses

    Colleges are also a good way to get into this sector; it is more learning based, but there is a fairly heavy practical element as well.


    Unfortunately, there isn’t an A-level course in Hair and Beauty, but this sector is all about your customer service and personality rather than your academic qualifications. However, if you were interested in progressing into management or even taking on your own business, these courses may help you onto the right path:
    Business Studies • Economics • ICT

    Foundation Degrees

    A foundation degree is a great way to gain a higher education qualification while learning practical skills. They are designed by universities and employers to give you both a qualification and the experience to carry into the working world.

    They are the equivalent to the first two years of an honours degree and many people take them having worked in the sector for some time. There are various courses available, such as Salon and Business Management.

    More Info

    Hair & Beauty

    Case Study

    Hair & Beauty

    Sophie, Hair Academy South West

    “My name is Sophie and I have recently completed my Apprenticeship training with The Hair Academy South West (HASW). I really enjoyed my time at HASW and obtained lots of hands on experience that helped me increase my confidence and improve my hairdressing skills. My favourite area of practical work was colour correction, which I covered in my Level 3.

    “I started at a local salon and I am still there today. My time at the Academy was very enjoyable; the salon based tutors were amazing, and they always encouraged me to push myself. The facilities and one-to-one training were brilliant. Because it was an Apprenticeship I was learning and getting paid, which was an added bonus.

    “Alongside this I am also part of the Paul Mitchell Artistic Team, which enables me to attend Hair Shows and go on courses to teach people the skills that I have learnt. This is brilliant as I get to travel around the country doing what I’ve always wanted to do, and this has all been down to my time at the Hair Academy South West.

    “I would definitely recommend an Apprenticeship to anyone – I wouldn’t be where I am now without doing this 3 year course.
    This amazing experience has helped me develop a career
    and has given me a massive confidence boost.”