How To Become A Hairdresser In Australia: A Complete Guide

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Students want to know how to become hairdressers in Australia and how long it takes.


Are you a creative and friendly person who likes to stay updated with trends and has excellent manual skills? If yes, then pursuing a career as a hairdresser is the right choice for you.


With more and more people focusing on appearance and style, hairdressing has become a rapidly growing industry in Australia.


Therefore, finding work in this field is easy. Once you gain experience and shape your skills, you will get plenty of other job opportunities. You can also choose to become a self-employed hairdresser.


Read this blog to learn about becoming a hairdresser in Australia, apprenticeships, how long they last, how long it takes to become a professional hairdresser in Australia, and more.



1. What Is a Hairdresser?


Hairdressers are skilled professionals with social care, retail, health, and education expertise. They combine artistic flair and technical proficiency to deliver trendy haircuts and stunning hair colours for their clients.


Beyond their hair-related skills, hairdressers also offer valuable advice on hair care and styling techniques, which are crucial in enhancing clients' overall appearance and boosting their confidence through personalized services.



2. What Does A Hairdresser Do?


As a professionally trained hairdresser, you may expect to maintain your client's hair, including cutting, straightening, colouring, perming, treating, and more. You might also have to fulfil other requests like styling and blow-drying.


In the initial stages of the hairdressing apprenticeship, the hairdresser performs simple tasks and duties such as cleaning or maintaining the store, welcoming clients, rinsing or washing hair and taking bookings. You may also bring customers a glass of bubbly or make them tea.


The duties of a hairdresser may differ from one salon to the other. Here is a general list of requirements to get a better perspective of what essential duties a hairdresser performs:


  • Cutting or styling weaves or hair strands.

  • Conditioning, shampooing, and performing other hair treatments.

  • Braiding, adding weaves, hair extensions, and dreadlocks. 

  • Waving or permanently straightening hair. 

  • Offering advice on colouring, styling, or maintaining hair. 

  • Trimming or shaving beards/moustaches. 

  • Styling your client's hair with razors, scissors, or clippers. 

  • Keeping the work area and the instruments clean.


Apart from hard skills, hairdressing also involves "soft skills" or "interpersonal skills," which are necessary for providing excellent customer service. Here are some soft skills you need to have as a hairdresser.


  • Offer personal opinions or advice about your client's hair.

  • Actively listen to your client's requests and understand their exact requirements. 

  • Efficiently manage your time. 

  • Handle or take on criticism from the management or your clients. 

  • You must be able to read your clients' facial expressions or body language to meet their expectations.


Once you progress in your hairdresser career, without any doubt, you will discover your niche and eventually start focusing on specific areas. These might be styling for the fashion industry, becoming a shampoo technician, or working as a colour specialist.



3. What Qualifications Do You Need To Be a Hairdresser in Australia?


Even though you can immediately start working as an assistant at a local salon and get on-the-job training, qualifications will help you succeed.


You usually need to complete a formal education in hairdressing and proper training to learn and master the basic skills of haircutting, styling, design, hair colouring, and more.


Here is how to qualify for the role:


  • Complete a Certificate III in Hairdressing at a Registered Training Organisation. Undertake high-level courses to advance in hairdressing, such as a Certificate IV in Hairdressing and a Diploma of Salon Management.

  • The courses prepare you to take on higher-level responsibilities or tackle more complex hairdressing jobs as a colourist, stylist, senior stylist, or salon manager.

  • Find an Apprenticeship Network provider that can assist you in finding an employer to begin your apprenticeship.

  • The alternative way to get into this profession is to complete three to four years of apprenticeship in a salon.



Here are some of the certifications you require to become a qualified hairdresser in Australia:



Certificate I


This is the entry-level qualification for hairdressing in Australia. With Certificate I, you will be able to work semi-independently and gain personal experience in performing a specific task and managing people in the workplace.


You will also learn more about different salon services like styling, cutting, colouring, and treating hair.


You can pursue this certification part-time or full-time at a vocational institution or college. You can also complete it via distance or correspondence learning. Below is a list of hairdressing techniques that you will learn when pursuing this qualification:


  • Coordinate salon services 

  • Dress, style, colour and cut hair

  • Sell hairdressing products and services

  • Maintain an efficient and clean workplace

  • Straighten, curl, or strengthen hair 

  • Prepare a customer for salon services

  • Coordinate with the salon team

  • Treat scalp and hair

  • Remove chemicals from clients' hair

  • Handle client schedules and make an appointment

  • Diagnose the client's scalp and hair conditions



Certificate II


Certificate II in hairdressing involves practical learning of skills required to become an efficient hairdresser. This qualification will teach you about organising teams and tools, selling products, styling hair, massaging scalps, handling stocks, and fixing chemically damaged locks.


If you want to start as an apprentice, Certificates I and II are all you need, depending on which Australian state you plan to work in. In South Australia and New South Wales, you must have a hairdressing apprenticeship or Certificate III to work as a hairdresser.



Certificate III


If you want to get into the professional level of hairdressing, you need to obtain Certificate III. With this certification, you will gain supervisory and technical skills to become a professional hairdresser. 


If you want to speed up the learning process, you can enrol on a hairdresser course with any TAFE institute near you or at a local RTO (Registered Training Organisation).


Becoming a hairdresser in South Australia or New South Wales requires a Certificate III. You can either choose to study part-time, full-time or via an apprenticeship.


Certificate III is vital if you want to become a salon manager and gain hands-on experience by training with study groups, workshops, and mentors.



Certificate IV or Advanced Certificate in Hairdressing


If you want to run your salon or become a salon manager, you can choose an advanced certification in hairdressing. This certification builds the skills and knowledge you obtained from previous certificates. You must have previous credentials to complete Certificate IV.


Once you complete this qualification, you can make crucial decisions and handle leadership programs and other operations with junior stylists. Also, you will be self-motivated to apply various principles and techniques across different functions and contexts.


Not only that, but you can also expect to receive a higher position with a higher salary.



Diploma in Hairdressing


Upon completing the Advanced Certificate in Hairdressing or Certificate IV, you can pursue a Diploma in Hairdressing, which allows you to improve your skills. Vocational institutions and colleges offer this course.


You can even take this course part-time or study it through distance learning, which means you can learn during your day job.



Workplace Traineeship or Assessment While Studying


Suppose you are already working part-time on the weekends or in the evening when studying at school. In that case, you can work full-time while receiving a certificate in hairdressing through a workplace traineeship or assessment. 


Make sure to talk to the salon manager before you go for this option.



Apprenticeship in Hairdressing


hairdressing apprenticeship is when you start working at a salon as an apprentice and simultaneously pursue a Certificate III qualification. It combines on-the-job hairdresser training and classroom study to provide you with the hairdressing skills you require to excel in your career.


Remember, if you want to work as a hairdresser in South Australia or New South Wales, you might have to undertake an apprenticeship. To complete an apprenticeship in hairdressing, you can apply at a college, and they will get you a placement, or you can find a salon on your own.



4. Where To Study Hairdressing In Australia?


Whether you are looking to study a hairdressing course for international or domestic students, there are plenty of educational institutions. 


Here is a list of reputable and best institutions in Australia where you can study hairdressing courses and begin your career in a few years:


  • Charles Darwin University - Certificate III in Hairdressing 

  • Melbourne Polytechnic - Hairdressing Course

  • Headmasters Melbourne - Certificate and Diploma Courses in Hairdressing

  • Canberra Institute of Technology - Certificate III in Hairdressing 

  • Brisbane School of Hairdressing - Certificate and Diploma Courses in Hairdressing

  • TMG College Australia - Certificate III in Hairdressing

  • Victoria University - Certificate III in Hairdressing

  • Vibe College for Hairdressing and Barbering - Certificate and Diploma Courses in Hairdressing

  • Toni & Guy Melbourne School of Hairdressing - Certificate III in Hairdressing

  • Biba Academies Hair School - Certificate III and Apprenticeship Training in Hairdressing

  • Academia - Certificate III in Hairdressing

  • International Career Institute - Diploma / Advanced Diploma in Hairdressing

  • Hairdresser Course TAFE New South Wales - Certificate III in Hairdressing

  • Hairdresser Course TAFE Tasmania - Certificate III in Hairdressing

  • Hairdresser Course TAFE Queensland - Certificate III in Hairdressing

  • Hairdresser Course TAFE South Australia - Certifications, Apprenticeships, and Traineeships.


Most institutes and universities in Australia provide payment plans for students with a limited budget. You can also choose cheaper hairdressing courses online in Australia to help you develop your skills from home.


After completing the first two levels of certification, you can start working at a local salon or discuss on-the-job training or an apprenticeship with the salon manager.



5. Career Opportunities in Hairdressing


When you become a certified hairdresser, you can explore plenty of job opportunities in the hairdressing field. You can build a solid portfolio to work at resorts, spas, salons, and the film and television industry. 


Additionally, you can start personal hairdressing for celebrities, weddings, photoshoots, and fashion shows. Apart from that, when you complete all levels of hairdresser training, you can get a Diploma in salon management.


Here are a few other roles that hairdressers can specialise in as their career progresses:


  • Beauty Therapists: You can expand your skill set to provide several beauty treatments like spray tans, make-up application, and hair removal. Becoming an overall beauty therapist will enable you to add value to your current hairdressing customers or help you work with other beauty salons or day spas.


  • Retail and Sales: Hairdressers pick retail and sales and become professional at selling and recommending hairdressing products and services to customers. In addition, they can sell hair products or other stock in bulk to departmental stores or salons. Most of these roles primarily focus on sales but may also incorporate merchandising, marketing, and customer satisfaction research.



6. How Long Does It Take To Become A Hairdresser?


Hairdressers can start their careers at a salon as apprentices. Usually, it takes around three or four years for apprenticeships to complete. 


On the other hand, you can also become a professional hairdresser by pursuing a hairdressing qualification like Certificate III from a vocational institute or an RTO (Registered Training Organisation). This might take around one year to complete via full-time study.



7. How Much Does a Hairdresser Make in Australia?


According to Pay Scale, the average hairdresser's salary is AU$ 24.96 per hour or a yearly equivalent of AU$ 53,241.


Several factors may influence a hairdresser's pay:


  • Type of employment (full-time or part-time)

  • Nature of employment (employed in a salon/ self-employed)

  • Years of experience 

  • Work location

  • Pay structures they work in 



Salary Based on Experience:


  • Entry-level (< 1-year experience): AU$22.60 per hour

  • Early career (1-4 years of experience): AU$22.88 per hour 

  • Mid-career (5-9 years of experience): AU$24.33 per hour 

  • Experienced (10-19 years of experience): AU$24.77 per hour 

  • In their late career (20 years and above): AU$27 per hour 



Salary Based on Location:


  • Manly NSW: $80,981 per year

  • Cranbourne VIC: $78,099 per year

  • Brisbane QLD: $77,950 per year

  • Point Cook VIC: $77,749 per year

  • Chatswood NSW: $62,080 per year

  • Canberra ACT: $60,476 per year

  • Perth WA: $59,908 per year

  • Paddington NSW: $59,384 per year

  • Sydney NSW: $59,248 per year



Salary Based on Pay Structure:



  • Hourly Rate: The average hairdresser's salary on an hourly pay structure is AUD 20.90


  • Annual Salary: The average hairdresser's salary on a yearly pay structure is AUD 50,592


  • Commission-Based: Hairdressers working in a commission-based pay structure do not get a base pay but earn a high commission rate on each client they bring in and the retail hairstyling products they sell. This commission rate depends on a percentage of the salon revenue per service.


  • Performance-Based: In this pay structure, a hairdresser can have a fixed hourly or annual payment with the possibility of earning higher if they put in more effort and make more sales in the business.  



8. What Are The Pros and Cons of Being a Hairdresser?


Like any other job, being a hairdresser also have its share of pros and cons:


Benefits of Working as a Hairdresser


  • A Fashionable Career

  • You can work indoors in various settings, including salons, barbershops, hotels, resorts, entertainment, fashion, and hospitals or consultancies.

  • You can also begin your business.

  • You enjoy a steady demand for services and consistent work.

  • You work flexible working hours. 

  • You can help out your family and friends.

  • You can talk to different kinds of people and build client relationships.

  • You can express yourself creatively and share your tips on social media.

  • You don't need a college education, just minimal training, a good understanding of English, good communication and customer care skills, and professionalism to enter this profession.

  • When employed in the entertainment industry, you would enjoy touring several countries.



Drawbacks of The Career


  • You must be a Self-Starter

  • You may not earn much in this profession and may require a second job 

  • You may face problems in getting a mortgage sanctioned

  • You can be easily replaceable

  • Old age poverty may be a severe issue 

  • You may have a low social status 

  • You may need more support for your creative and artistic expression.

  • You must like working with others' hair, including locks of dirty hair with some lice.

  • You must be physically fit and can remain on your feet throughout the day.

  • Being Social, if you are an Introvert, can be a challenge.



9. Are Hairdresser in Demand in Australia?


Hairdressing is a dependable and well-respected profession as it is a well-sought-after service by people of all ages.


In Australia, there is a rapid and constant rise in the demand for hairdressers, particularly especially in large urban centres, including Melbourne, Brisbane, and Sydney.


If you are creative with good manual skills and like staying updated with trends, you have ample opportunities even when starting from part-time or casual roles in a salon.


According to the Government's Labour Market Insights, hairdressing skills are in demand, with employers who find it challenging to fill vacancies.


The industry is experiencing strong growth, with over 31,000 new job openings estimated between November 2021 and November 2026.


Over this period, the number of workers will grow at a 9.6% rate from 63,500 in 2021 to 69,600 in 2026.



10. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)



How Long Is a Hairdressing Course in Australia?


There are different hairdressing courses with varying durations:


  • Certificate III in Hairdressing has a duration of 50 weeks. 

  • The diploma in Salon Management is 52 weeks or one year long. 

  • Individuals with Certificate III can pursue the Cert IV qualification by studying for an additional 26 weeks or six-and-a-half months.


Several Registered Training Organisations in Australia provide the above hairdressing courses across Australia. The time required to complete these courses is shorter than the 3-4 years of an apprenticeship in the salon.



What Is A Hairdresser's Top Salary?


As per the PayScale data, the highest pay for a Hairdresser in Australia is A$30.49 / hour.



How Much Does A First-Year Apprentice Hairdresser Get Paid in Australia?


The average Apprentice Hairdresser's hourly pay is AU$ 17.39 in Australia.


  • Entry-level Apprentice Hairdresser (< 1-year experience): AU$17.40 per hour 

  • Early career Apprentice Hairdresser (1-4 years of experience): AU$17.36 per hour 



What Salon Pays The Most?


According to Indeed, salons usually vary based on how much they pay their stylists and how they set up their pay structures.


Some of the high-paying employers for Hairdressers in Australia are:


  • Hair Station: $89,283per year

  • Price Attack: $77,639per year

  • Just Cuts: $77,179per year



What is The Average Profit of A Hair Salon?


Most beauty salons in Australia operate on a 30 to 50% profit margin after deducting the payroll and staffing costs.



Can You Be a Shy Hairdresser?


Yes. Shy people and introverts can be hairdressers. They excel at certain qualities most sought after in a hairdresser role.


They may speak less and not be as social as others, but they have several plus points that make them ideal for this role, such as:


  • Attention to detail

  • Good listening skills

  • Good observational skills 


However, shy people usually need more communication and interpersonal skills to develop and improve by undertaking self-development courses in these areas.



Do You Need a Licence To Cut Hair in Australia?


No. You do not need a license to cut hair as a hairdresser in Australia.



How Stressful is Being a Hairdresser?


As a hairdresser, you must deal with physical and mental stress.


Standing for extended hours and repetitive motions can lead to fatigue and musculoskeletal issues. Additionally, dealing with customers in all types of moods, particularly demanding and complaining customers, can be mentally draining.


Moreover, hairdressers primarily work irregular work hours, that includes weekends, public holidays, and evenings which impacts work-life balance. The agony is that hairdresser can't earn much money despite working long hours in a hectic schedule and constantly on their feet.


Constant exposure to these stressors for a long time can lead to anxiety, burnout, and other types of mental health issues.



What is The Workplace of a Hairdresser Like?


Hairdressers commonly work in salons or haircutting premises like the shopping mall. They may even work independently by setting up their hairdressing establishment or work in other living facilities and hospitals.


Some hairdressers also offer at-home services to their clients that may involve occasional travel.


A few fashion industries also employ hairdressers to style models' hair for photoshoots or fashion shows. In this case, they may require travelling with the crew to domestic or international locations.


Another work setting for a hairdresser is the entertainment industry, which employs hairdressers to help transform actors into characters.


Some music artists and dancers also hire hairdressers to help enhance their appearance behind the scenes.



Are Hairdressers Usually Happy?


Like people in any other occupation, hairdressers can have differing levels of contentment and happiness concerning their professional and personal lives. Though some hairdressers may be highly contented and find it satisfying, others may not be as fulfilled.


Factors that may affect a hairdresser's happiness level include:


  • Job satisfaction

  • Work-life balance

  • Financial stability

  • Relationships with clients and colleagues 

  • Personal fulfilment

  • Growth opportunities


Hairdressing is a highly creative and social profession that appeals to many. However, dealing with demanding clients, standing for extended periods, and facing financial uncertainty due to market demand and competition can make it less enjoyable and a challenging career option.



What Do You Need To Be a Hairstylist In Australia?


You need a combination of hairdressing knowledge and specific skills to excel in the hair stylist profession.



Soft Skills


  • An eye for beauty 

  • Patience and tolerance to deal with people of varying attitudes.

  • Marketing skills to boost the sales of your hairdressing services.

  • Business management skills to maintain proper records of all that goes on in the business.

  • Stress management to cope with pressure and stress from clients.

  • Creativity to create new hairstyles, techniques, and haircuts.

  • Stamina to stand for long hours without exhausting.

  • Self-confidence to be a self-starter and take the initiative.

  • Manual skills and experience

  • High communication skills, interpersonal skills, and listening abilities to cater to each customer's request in the best way possible

  • Like staying up-to-date with seasonal trends

  • I love to combine different shades and tones of hair colours.

  • Keen to take courses to upskill your hairdressing knowledge and skills



Technical Skills


You can't excel in a career only based on soft skills. You also need practical and hands-on skills to master haircutting, design, colouring, and styling.


YouTube can be a great tool to get an idea of hairdressing. Still, you need to complete a formal hairdressing course, a proper training process, and professional guidance to learn through practice.


Additionally, you would need work experience and a solid portfolio to boost your chances of landing a role as a hairdresser.


The traditional method to be a hairdresser is to enrol in 3-4 years of apprenticeship to learn the "trade" through professionals.


Nowadays, most salons and employers look for candidates with Certificate III in Hairdressing before hiring. The course gives you detailed knowledge about:


  • Mixing and matching various hair colour shades 

  • Use an array of tools, chemicals, and hairstyling equipment 

  • What brands to use

  • Ways to achieve a multitude of hairstyles to suit clients' requests.

  • Effective communication, hygiene tactics, customer service, and team skills to work as a salon team.


As part of the Skills First funding scheme, the Certificate III in Hairdressing is a free government-funded course in Victoria. The course is delivered online by an experienced team of hairdressing professionals.


The vital first-hand industry experience you gain prepares you for your future career in the hair and beauty industry without paying anything.



How Do You Make Money at a Hair Salon?



For Hairdressers:


There are two main compensation methods for hairdressers in a salon:


  • Booth Rental: In this method, the salon owner allocates a station in the salon to the stylist on rent. In return for rent, the stylist may get various services, including marketing, scheduling, product ordering, housekeeping, etc. In this model, a hairdresser can set their hours, price, etc. A booth rental model suits organised hairdressers who enjoy flexibility and have a good following.


  • To work as an Employee in a Salon: Most high-end local salons mostly use this model. Here the salon fixes the price, and the hairdresser receives a certain percentage of the service charge as compensation. 


Additionally, they may earn from product commission for every hair styling they sell and tips from their customers.



For Salon Owners:


Hair salon owners can generate more income from their businesses by increasing productivity and reducing operational costs. A well-planned strategy and concerted effort will help increase the profit margin of their business.


Here we have some tips to help enhance your business revenue and improve salon profit.


  • Replace your existing Credit Card Payment Service provider with one that offers free equipment, good customer service, low processing rates, and no fee charged on cancellation.


  • Ensure your salon website provide the facility for your clients to book appointments for services and treatment, buy products, and process payments online. These digital operations will bring value to your customers, boost your brand loyalty, and enhance your hair salon's profit margin.


  • Periodically increase in prices can lead to substantial hair salon profit for your business. Set a fixed period to increase your treatments, services, and product charges - for example, a 3% price increase every quarter. However, be ready to explain the reason behind the price increases to your customers.


  • Incorporate Social Media campaigns in your business marketing to connect with existing customers, identify new ones, and encourage brand loyalty. Running active ad campaigns on Pinterest, Facebook, Google, business web pages, and Instagram is a good idea.


  • Expand Your Service Menu to stay on top of new styles and trends. It is beneficial as adding services and treatments to your menu will increase clients' annual visits to your salon.


  • Improve The Search Rank of your website on Google. The higher it ranks on the page, the more likely online customers will click on it and book an appointment at your salon.


  • Pay attention to improving the search engine ranking of your website. You can start a blog about your salon's services, trends, treatments, or other beauty topics and add relevant keywords to the content. It makes it easier for clients to search for you. Another thing is that you can hire a professional to optimise your website and make it more mobile-friendly and attractive.


  • Reduce your operational costs by shopping for salon equipment and supplies at a lower cost, switching off high-power consuming equipment when idle, shopping for better rates on credit card merchant-processing fees, ensure your staff stays booked.


  • Happy clients are likelier to recommend your business to their near and dear ones. That's why a business should build a solid loyalty program to boost customer loyalty in his business. Some practical ways are loyalty cards that offer free services after a specific number of paid services, gifts of salon products, rewards for referrals, and more. 


  • Get your clients to commit to a set appointment for their next visit before they leave.


  • Besides offering the standard hairdressing service, aim to expand your services and provide a complete service that delivers the value and experience your clients want.


  • Most Salons generate a large part, i.e., 92% of their revenue from services and around 8% from retail sales. Finding new revenue generation streams to grow your salon business. Some of these ways include:


  1. Offer hair styling education and services to other businesses that need that service.

  2. Sell an online or offline subscription/membership service to interested customers and charge them a monthly fee. 

  3. Sell salon gift cards with custom amounts on your website

  4. Create a retail space, particularly a high-traffic area in your salon, to sell salon products to retail customers

  5. Salons with an excellent online presence and strong social media following can also "sell" advertising space in your media channels to brands looking to endorse their products. 

  6. Sell your salon products on e-commerce websites to improve the visibility and growth of your salon business.



How To Become A Hairdresser in NSW?


You need a formal education in hairdressing and a related field to become a hairdresser in Australia.


  • TAFE NSW runs a Hairdressing and Barbering Program: A collection of beginner-level salon assistant courses, and advanced-level and creative salon management courses. These courses aim at helping you build, hone, and demonstrate your skills while advancing your hairdressing career.


  • Certificate III in Hairdressing – TAFE NSW: It is a perfect course to kickstart your career as a skilled hairdresser and learn how to cut, create and colour impressive styles for your clients. You will learn the most sought-after skills to prepare you to work in a salon or set up one of yours.


  • Certificate II in Salon Assistant – TAFE NSW: Gain practical experience, confidence, and creative and professional skills as you practise paying clients and learn to provide an outstanding customer experience in a salon environment, including salons, barbershops, and behind-the-scenes in fashion or movies.




How To Become A Hairdresser QLD?


The minimum qualification required to pursue a career as a hairdresser in Australia is Certificate III in Hairdressing.


TAFE Queensland conducts various hairdressing courses under its hairdressing and barbering training program.


Whether you are a beginner in the hairdressing field or want to gain advanced practical skills and business knowledge to run your business as a salon manager, you will find a course that meets your objectives.




8. Final Words


Now that you know how to become a qualified hairdresser in Australia, you are ready to take the plunge and achieve all your goals. 


Hairdressing is a rewarding career choice that may take a lot of time to master. Still, once you start giving the customers their desired hairstyles, everything will be worth the effort.


Always remember, you will never find a shortcut towards success. With continuous practice and hard work, you will become a successful hairdresser in a short time.



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