Fast Track Hairdressing Course vs Apprenticeship: Which Path is Right for You?

Ready to take the first step towards becoming a professional hairdresser or barber? First, you need to find the right path. Although the traditional hairdressing apprenticeship route has long been popular, students today also see the value in fast-track hairdressing courses

Today, we’ll highlight their differences, including what students can expect, and speak to one of Demi International’s trainers about how they compare.

The traditional apprenticeship route

For those considering becoming a hairdresser or barber, completing an apprenticeship was usually the most common way. Potential students would find a salon or barbershop to take them on as an apprentice and learn the trade through hands-on work experience over many years. 

Typically taking 42 months to complete, it’s a thorough education that teaches the technical aspects of this career. And under the Australian Government’s Hair and Beauty Award, junior apprentices can expect to earn $13.09 an hour and adults $20.95.

Although a valuable and comprehensive learning experience, apprenticeships have good and bad points to consider.

The pros and cons of an apprenticeship

Jeff Jowett is a barbering trainer at Demi International, with a career that began through the traditional apprenticeship route. “The practical ‘on the job’ training of an apprenticeship was valuable,” he says. “But when I started my traditional apprenticeship, the only other option was a six month pre-apprenticeship course offered by TAFE. Today, there are far more comprehensive courses and better choices available.

On the downside, though, completing an apprenticeship takes longer. With most averaging four years, there is some time before graduates can begin earning a good income and become qualified.

Today’s fast-track hairdressing courses 

A Certificate III is a common educational pathway to becoming a hairdresser or barber and an attractive alternative to an apprenticeship for many. These courses are completed over 72 weeks, providing theory and practical teachings.

Demi International’s Certificate III in Hairdressing is studied over six terms, with two days per week on campus. Our Certificate III in Barbering takes five terms, including two days a week on campus. A combination of in-person practical learning and online studies provides a balance that most students appreciate.

The good and bad of hairdressing and barbering courses

Whether you’re a young student hoping to graduate quickly or a mature student looking to fast-track your studies, the shorter completion time of a Certificate III is appealing. Additionally, being able to enter the workforce and start earning as a skilled professional is another bonus. 

According to Jeff, though, no set path guarantees more money. “Wages can be negotiated depending on skills,” he says. “A business will determine an employee’s worth to the business based on qualifications and experience.

One of students’ most significant concerns about studying a hairdressing or barbering course is the need for hands-on learning. Choosing a tertiary provider that understands — and addresses — these concerns is vital. At Demi International, students gain this hands-on experience in our student salons

Another contemplation with hairdressing and barbering courses is the cost — something you don’t have to consider with an apprenticeship. To alleviate this, students may be eligible for the Queensland Government’s Certificate 3 Guarantee funding, supporting people to complete their first post-school qualification. Otherwise, payment plans are available for all students at Demi International, regardless of eligibility.

Which study pathway is best for you?

All students are unique, and no single study pathway works for everyone. Instead, consider these points when weighing up an apprenticeship versus a short course to help you decide the best one.

  • Time. Students wishing to begin working as a qualified hairdresser or barber may prefer a fast-tracked course, allowing them to enter the workforce in 72 weeks.
  • Money. Apprentices are paid fairly during training, with the potential to start earning better money once qualified. Those graduating from a fast-tracked course can begin earning a proper wage immediately, with pay increasing corresponding to experience.
  • Career goals. Consider your career goals as you assess the best pathway. An apprenticeship can show you all aspects of hairdressing and barbering. However, bundled courses with specialist offerings — like a Certificate III in Hairdressing and a Diploma of Salon Management combined — cater to specific goals.
  • Learning style. Are you a hands-on learner, or do you prefer to study at your own pace, with practical work included? Your learning style can guide you toward the best approach to ensure you stick with it.

Jeff reiterates the importance of listening to your trainer and keeping attendance up whichever path you take. “Your trainer is your best learning tool, and they’ve got the day-to-day experience you can learn from. Attend every class and take advantage of what’s on offer; it’ll be your loss if you don’t show up.

Achieving your goals in a way that works for you

There’s no superior pathway to becoming a barber or hairdresser. However, there is usually an approach that works best for the individual. 

Demi International offers a range of programs for those interested in gaining a qualification. Level up your skills — or begin a new career— in the beauty and hair industries. Speak to Demi International about the course that’s right for you.

Picture of Lauren Streng

Lauren Streng

Lauren is the Senior Marketing Officer at Demi International.

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