Apprenticeships vs Hairdressing Schools

Apprenticeships vs Hairdressing Schools

If you’re interested in getting into hairdressing, you may be wondering the best way to go about it. Monique and Stacey from Hair Scene share their different experiences about how they got into the industry. 

Monique’s experience of an apprenticeship

2 Years of Shampoo assistant experience, currently doing the third year of my Hairdressing Apprenticeship. 

I hadn’t always wanted to be a hairdresser growing up. I have always loved my colours, one thing I had trouble with were the subjects at school you’d sit at all day, which helped me decide that a desk job was not for me. It wasn’t until I tried a Hair and Beauty Taster Star course in 2017 which convinced me to try a full star course the following year, 2018. 

Halfway through 2018, I saw a Shampoo & Colour assistant opening at Hair Scene – Hair & Beauty. I was lucky enough to get the job and have the opportunity to start an apprenticeship, once I had finished school. This gave me the chance to experience what it is like working in-salon. Which allowed me to keep my options open as well, to compare it to the hairdressing academy star courses to see which was best suited myself. 

Starting in the salon is very hands-on as you need good time management and have to be super proactive and know your priorities. Starting here also allows you to slowly grow your clientele and get familiar with many already existing clients. 

Training while in an apprenticeship is quite different from an academy as you get much more one-on-one help. Most of your training is in-salon, most employers will have a day and time once a week to do one on one training with you. This training consists of practicing new skills as well as ones you are not confident and may need help with. When practicing colour work or the use of chemical products in-salon for training, it will be cheaper for your model. This is due to your learning of that particular skill. 

For an apprenticeship, you will be required to collect evidence for practical assessments for when you go to tech. Tech is only 10 Monday’s out of the whole year and is where you have all of your practical and theory assessments. For me, tech is at Premier Hairdressing Academy in Takapuna although, it depends on where you live as to which hairdressing academy you will attend. 

Although an apprenticeship takes longer (3-4 years), it comes with many perks. Some perks are no student loans, working full time, so you get paid as well as giving you in-salon experience. You start building a clientele in your third year so you are fully competent when you go for your finals. Then you will be fully qualified gaining your New Zealand Certificate in Hairdressing (Professional Stylist) (Level 4)

Hair Scene - Staff Image of Monique
Stacey’s experience of hairdressing academy

14 years of hairdressing experience, Studied at Cut Above Academy. 

I didn’t always know I wanted to be a hairdresser, but I did know that I couldn’t see myself sitting behind a desk every day. I have always been creative and enjoyed art. I was thinking about leaving school and gave a weeklong star course in hairdressing a try, which convinced me to sign up for Cut Above.

To attend hairdressing school, you do have to take out a student loan. You do not get a wage while you study, as you would in an apprenticeship.

I found it a quicker way to get into the industry and jump start your knowledge as you are training all day every day. Many tutors work with you and your class at different times, so you can pick up different techniques from many different backgrounds.

Being in a class environment has its pros and cons. Some people pick things up quicker than others and can give you tips and bounce ideas off. There is always someone you can use to practice on. The downside is you can’t always get as much one on one learning time with the tutor.

I did 2 years at Cut Above. In the first year, they had a ‘student salon’, where people would come for free basic haircuts and basic colours with a small colour charge. In the second year, the student salon was busier and people would come for cuts, colours, and foils, all at a discounted price. This helped you gain valuable experience working with different hair types and personalities. The second-year salon gave you an insight into working in a real salon.

I think what you put in is what you get out of going to hairdressing school. It is not a job, so people don’t always take it seriously. My class had decreased by almost half its size 6 months into the year. Many people think it’s going to be easy or just start the course as something to do. You’ve got to have a level of passion and commitment. There is a wealth of knowledge and opportunities available.

It can be quite hard finding work once you finish a hairdressing school. I felt like it was an awkward in-between experience level. I was confident to be working on the floor doing clients, but salons only wanted to hire me as a junior to assist in-salon and not be doing clients to start with. I was extremely fortunate the salon who hired me allowed me to skip the junior level and keep cutting and colouring! 

Hairdressing school is a great creative place for young people and worked out very well for me and my situation at the time. However, it did take me many years to pay back my student loan. Apprenticeships at great salons are harder to come by and if you happen to be offered one, I would not turn it down.

Hair Scene - Staff Image of Stacey