Hairdressers render a service to clients by washing, cutting, perming, colouring, tinting, curling and styling their hair.

Hairdressers cut and style hair according to customer requests. The tasks differ according to the requirements of their clients. They may first have to study a client’s face, hair and scalp before deciding on a style and treatment. They also trim, shape, shampoo and tint or bleach hair. They give scalp treatments and massages, and permanent waves.

They also trim and style beards and moustaches and sometimes advise customers on personal grooming and cosmetic aids available. Some hairdressers fit and style wigs. Hairdressers need to keep up-to-date with the latest trends in hairstyles and cutting techniques.

Hairdressers work indoors in salons that must meet certain sanitation codes. Hairdressers who manage or own salons have the responsibility of ordering supplies, keeping records, receiving clients, hiring employees and keeping the salon clean. Hairdressers’ tools and accessories include: scissors, clippers, razors, combs, brushes, tweezers, towels and hairdryers, various solutions, bleaches and tints, cleaning and sterilising equipment.

Hairdressers who own or manage salons also work with appointment books, employee schedules and various financial and clerical forms. Hairdressing salons are usually pleasant and attractive so as to appeal to the public. Normally each hairdresser is assigned to a work area, which has a customer chair and an area where equipment such as combs, rollers and hairdryers are kept.

Personal Requirements

  • at least 16 years old
  • tactful and courteous
  • enjoy working with people
  • patient and even-tempered
  • creative and persuasive
  • present a neat, well-groomed appearance
  • hand and finger dexterity and good eye-hand coordination
  • good vision
  • be healthy and have physical stamina

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

  • Grade 9 Certificate is the minimum entry level requirement
  • National Senior Certificate is preferred, especially for training over a shorter period
For those who have not had the advantage of such an education there is an alternative route. Such a person may do the first 3 modules prescribed by the Hairdressing and Cosmetology Services Industry Education and Training Board (HCSIETB) full time at a college and then enter the trade.

What to Study

Hairdressing education and training are regulated by the Hairdressing and Cosmetology Services Industry Education and Training Board, a statutory body accredited under the Manpower Training Act. There are several options open for prospective hairdressers, such as to be trained by qualified hairdressers, or to study hairdressing at a TVET college full-time, e.g. Port Elizabeth, Northlink, South Cape, KZN Coastal, Tshwane South, Vuselela, Flavius Mareka etc. and then become learners, or work for themselves.

Learnership has been proved to be the best route to go, but there is a limited number available and not everybody is able to find a position.

Duration of course: 3 years


  • hair salons
  • hotels and departmental stores
  • film and television industry
  • unisex styling salons for Performing Arts Councils
  • self-employment, with enough experience and capital, can start own business

Further Information

Hairdressing Salons, which employ learners

Any TVET College  in your area with a hairdressing department

The SA Hairdressers’ Employees Union
P O Box 10614
Johannesburg, 2000

Getting Started

  • try to obtain Saturday morning, part-time or vacation work at a hairdressing salon
  • courses in Art, Chemistry, Life Sciences and Sales Techniques would be helpful
  • consult the Registrar of Manpower Training concerning learnership programmes that may be available in your area
  • speak to a hairdresser about this type of career

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

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