The Hairdressing Wage

This is a subject most people don’t want to talk about, and quite rightly too. There are many reasons why you may want to keep your wage private.

I would assume that with most jobs you get paid an hourly/day rate. Some jobs you can earn extra from overtime, and some jobs will include a bonus sceme. I would like to explain how my wage works.

Now, I’m not doing this just for the sake of it. I’m doing this because firstly, I feel hairdressing as a career choice is still frowned upon by many. I have had people ask me why I decided against College and University when I achieved good grades at GCSE level. I have also been told I’m quite intelligent for a hairdresser and should have pushed myself more. (Classic!)

Secondly I think SOME hair stylists are under paid due to unrealistic goals being set by their employers and that reflects badly on the salons that pay fairly.

Lastly, and the main reason, is due to a Cosmopolitan article I read 2 years ago. It still haunts me a little occasionally! We, as hairdressers were ranked the 4th worst paid job in the UK, earning on average £10,019 per annum. I know you need highs and lows to make an average, but to see that written in an article is enough to put anyone off starting a career in hairdressing.

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So back to the wages...

I get paid on a commission basis. This means I get a percentage of the price I charge. I don’t have a target to hit to ensure payment of commission, I will always receive commission for every hair service carried out. My targets are only set so I can see how I’m doing over the month, they are not wage related.

I also receive commission on the products I retail. We stock, what we feel, are the best brands, and to recreate what I do in the salon and protect the hair, these products are needed. If my client has just spent £136 on their colour, they don’t want colour fade from a low quality supermarket bought shampoo. (Ekk!)

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The retail commission percentage will increase if we choose to spend it on self development. I have used mine to pay for 2 courses in San Diego, to build upon my skills and knowledge, knowing self development will lead to promotion.

I’m happy with my pay structure however I have worked hard from day one. (Maybe not every day, but most days!) I got an apprenticeship wage when I first started (£320 every 4 weeks) and this was increased at the age of 18. Todays apprentices get paid a little more, the minimum apprenticeship wage is currently just under £600 every 4 weeks. The apprentices at my salon Pure Hair get paid more than the minimum apprenticeship wage during their 2nd year. When I qualified I worked hard to grow my client base, and with the help of my employers and recommendations from happy clients, I did that quickly.

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With the realistic targets set and the fair percentage I get paid, I’m pleased to say I earned just shy of £40,000 last year. I was happy with that. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t still room to grow.

To get a pay rise I need to receive a promotion.  A promotion will be given on knowledge, experience and request rate (How many clients ask for me). So when my prices increase, my wage will rise.

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Another way is filling my day with higher paid services. I LOVE to colour, and colour will earn me more money as the service is a higher price.

I have worked in a salon where stylists don’t get paid on time; where colour stock is so low clients are lost because the desired result can’t be achieved; where the bottles at the shampoo area are filled with a supermarket brand because it’s cheaper! How can a commission based stylist reach their potential when they have to deal with this? (I didn’t work there for long!)

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As much as hairdressing is branded one of the worst paid jobs, it's also said to be one of the happiest and most fulfilling jobs. For anyone wanting to start a career in hairdressing, do your research. It can take time to find the right salon, so don't settle. Find a salon who invest in their team, who put training first, and who's hairdressers look like they genuinely LOVE what they do. Don’t be put off by negative comments, unfair employees and scary articles.


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