How to Become a Hairdresser in Australia: Everything You Need to Know

If you’re passionate about haircare, styling and colour transformation, training to become a hairdresser could pave the way to an exciting and rewarding career.

From the salon to the runway, demand for hairdressers continues to grow across Australia, with forecasts predicting employment numbers to reach 79,000 by 2024. With high job opportunities and rising demand, now is the ideal time to explore study options and set yourself up for success.

In this article, we take an in-depth look at what it takes to become a sought-after hairdresser, covering everything from training and apprenticeships to earning potential and career development.

How to get qualified as a hairdresser

You can take two paths to become a qualified hairdresser in Australia – complete a certificate iii course with a registered training organisation or undertake an apprenticeship. Either way, you’ll gain industry knowledge and the crucial, on-the-job training you need to thrive in this fast-paced industry.

Hairdressing certificate III courses

Certificate courses, like our Certificate III in Hairdressing [SHB30146], can fast-track your training and have you qualified in 18 months of full-time study. Choosing this path requires you to dedicate three days per week to learning, combining two days on-campus with one day of online learning at home.

This certificate iii course will teach you theory and practical hairdressing skills across key areas of hairdressing, including:

  • Cutting hair and hair design theory
  • Traditional and modern haircut techniques
  • Colour, bleach and highlight training
  • Creative hair design, including hair-up styles and braids
  • Haircare fundamentals and scalp treatments
  • Head, neck and shoulder massage
  • Salon services training
  • Salon health and safety protocols
  • Product recommendations and beauty industry trends

Tuition fees include a professional hairdressing kit containing tools, products, haircare, and head blocks.

Hairdressing apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are suited to people who want to combine hands-on learning in a salon environment with a slower pace of practical and theoretical study. Choosing this path means you’ll learn on the job, under the guidance of an employer, and attend a formal training academy one day per week.

How long is a hairdressing apprenticeship in Australia?

Australian apprenticeships in hairdressing take around three years to complete, giving you the same hairdressing qualification as full-time study finished in only 18 months.

Interested in finding an apprenticeship?

How much does a hairdressing apprentice earn?

Pay rates under the Hair and Beauty Award for apprentices start at $12.38 for juniors and $19.81 for adults.

Career opportunities for a qualified hairdresser

A hairdressing career is limitless for those willing to perfect their craft and become the best of the best. Skilled hairdressers work worldwide, from local salons to Hollywood film sets and global events like Paris Fashion Week.

Training to become a professional hairdresser can open doors to a variety of industry roles, including:

  • Hair stylist or hairdresser
  • Colour technician or specialist
  • Cutting specialist
  • Wedding and event hair stylist
  • Film and television hair stylist
  • Celebrity hair stylist
  • Cruise ship hairdresser
  • Freelance hairdresser
  • Salon manager
  • Haircare brand representative
  • Social media influencer (brand rep)
  • Personal hair stylist for hire
  • Industry trainer

And, like many of our graduates, you could build a successful salon of your own and inspire a team of passionate hair stylists.

What skills do I need to become a hairdresser?

Here are the top 10 skills you will need as a professional, money-making hairdresser with repeat clientele:

1. Passion:

It might sound cliche, but passion is crucial in hairdressing. It’s the driving force that pushes you to learn more, work smarter, stay on top of trends and find the best outcome for every client.

2. Great communication:

Beauty salons are very social places where you meet people from all walks of life. Being a good communicator will go a long way when dealing with clients. Responding respectfully and knowing when to listen or weigh in with advice helps to build trust, manage expectations, answer concerns and deal with challenges.

3. Attention to detail:

Hairdressing is not just a job—it’s a craft. And as every craftsperson knows, attention to detail separates good work from exceptional work. Every snip, stroke and decision can impact the final result for your clients, so be prepared to maintain focus from start to finish for each job.

4. Creativity:

A flair for design and creativity is something you will call on every day as a hairdresser, whether you’re creating showstopping looks, building your portfolio or marketing your services.

5. Dexterity:

As a hairdresser, your hands are crucial assets you will use daily to cut, colour and style hair. Doing this quickly and skillfully requires dexterity and good hand-eye coordination that improves with time and practice. Eventually, your hands will work on autopilot to help you perfect each job.

6. Time management:

Good time management skills are essential for hairdressers because you’ll often find yourself working on a tight schedule, with little time to spare between clients. Knowing what’s ahead, planning your time and prioritising tasks will keep appointments flowing and allow flexibility for changes.

7. Theoretical knowledge:

Hairdressing theory is essential when dealing with different hairstyles, skin types, and styling hair needs. Understanding the principles of colour theory and product chemistry and identifying and treating scalp conditions will help you tackle every appointment confidently.

8. Empathy:

Beyond theory, a hairdresser should be empathetic and flexible to adapt to individual style preferences and concerns. Clients with scalp conditions, sensitive skin and other considerations should feel comfortable discussing their concerns with you. Understanding and being respectful will help you plan for a successful, collaborative outcome.

9. Stamina:

It’s no secret that hairdressers need good stamina. You’ll spend a lot of time on your feet, especially if you work in a busy salon. Supportive shoes and comfortable clothing are essential, but also consider strength-building exercises to help maintain your endurance.

10. Business skills:

Learning basic business skills will help you handle the billing, marketing and admin side of hairdressing, especially if you plan to start your own business.

How much do hairdressers earn in Australia?

The average salary of a hairdresser in Australia is $59,000 per year or around $29.00 per hour.

Like all industries, earning potential can change depending on your level of education and experience. Hairdressing has been rocked by Covid-related staff shortages in recent years, which has driven hourly rates up well beyond the national average in some salons.

COVID aside, owning your own salon or chasing contract work in high-demand areas (like North Queensland) could increase your annual salary to over $80,000 per year.

Of course, hairdressers with a dual qualification can earn more money by taking on more responsibility as a salon manager. Adding our Diploma of Salon Management [SHB50216] to your CV will help you get there.

Salaries vary between employers and locations, so it’s a good idea to regularly check job listings and familiarise yourself with what’s out there.

Things to know before becoming a hairdresser

  • On-the-job training is just as important as learning theory
  • Hairdressing is demanding, and burnout can happen if you don’t set boundaries and stay on top of your self-care
  • Reading people and sharing stories is part of the job—be prepared to chat!
  • Always be reliable. A late (or MIA) hairdresser can derail plans and lead to bad reviews
  • The hairdressing industry values time efficiency and skill. Regular practice will help you to refine your speed, meet expected timeframes and master your efficiency. One of the easiest ways to practise is to call on your friends and family or consider volunteering

Kickstart something new today…

Chat with one of our friendly Course Advisors to explore hairdressing certificates, start dates, payment options, and enrolment eligibility.

Chelsey Harris

Chelsey Harris

Chelsey has operated her own business in Far North Queensland, CK Hair Mobile Hairdressing & Makeup. Her career has seen her working with several Australian celebrities including Christine Anu.
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