The average hairdresser and beauty therapist salary
One of the first questions most people have when they consider any career is, ‘How much could I earn?’
Unfortunately, there’s no definite answer to this question. Hair and beauty, like any other industry, has its ups and downs, so the average salaries can change a lot over time.
But for those who’d like to see some rough figures, take a look below for a quick guide.
A quick look at the hair and beauty industry
But before we can take a look at the average salaries of hairdressers and beauty therapists, we need to know how big the industry is and how many people it employs.
The fuzzy edges of the hair and beauty sector make it difficult to decide on a precise figure summing up how much it’s worth. But the most recent statistics from the Health and Beauty Industry Authority (HABIA) put its annual turnover at £6.2 billion (including spas), while later research from Mintel suggests it could be as high as £16.6 bn (as of 2014).
Over one million Brits are estimated by Raconteur to work in hair and beauty, although this includes cosmetics manufacturing and other related sectors, rather than just the professionals that provide treatments themselves.
Still, even simply walking down any UK high street, it’s easy to see that hair and beauty is a sizeable industry.
Understanding your earning potential
National average earnings per sector can only tell you so much about what you could make in your hair and beauty career.
Factors affecting the money you can earn include:
- Your skill level, both in terms of your technical abilities (how well you perform the treatments that you provide) and your level of customer service
- The area of hair and beauty that you work in (e.g. nail art or makeup)
- Your specific job role, and where it fits within the salon (e.g. top hair stylist or shampoo technician)
- Whether you have any broader business skills such as bookkeeping or marketing experience
- The part of the country that you work in
Types of job in the hair & beauty sector
Now let’s work through the current salary estimates for the most common positions in the hair and beauty industry.
The National Careers Service suggests that the average salary for hairdressers is between £14,000 and £30,000 per annum. Here’s how that’s broken down by level of experience:
- Starting salary: £14,000
- Experienced stylists: £14,000 to £20,000
- Highly Experienced stylists: £30,000
Celebrity hairdressers and others in high demand can earn significantly more, as could some hairdressing professionals who move into upper management.
Take a look at our article on jobs roles in a salon to find out more.
The term ‘makeup artist’ covers such a range of positions, from special effects experts to salon-based professionals and freelancers specialising in bridal work. This means that an average figure has limited value.
The National Careers Service simply lists the average salary as ‘variable’, but PayScale.com estimates a median salary of £19,416 per annum. As with many other professions, this is likely to be considerably higher in London and the southeast than in other parts of the country.
Beauty therapists, incorporating practitioners of all the most common treatments and therapies, are estimated by the National Careers Service to earn between £15,000 and £20,000 a year.
As with hairdressers, opportunities often exist to progress to salon management, freelancing, assessing or teaching, which could see your income rise.
Finding out more
Nationwide averages are unlikely to give you an accurate picture when it comes to understanding your earning potential.
To get a better idea of what you could earn in the hair and beauty industry, look at job advertisements in your area as they will contain real-world examples, making them a better guide to average salaries in your area.
Hair and beauty teachers are another great resource when it comes to getting an idea of your earning potential as a hair and beauty professional. So if you’re studying at a college, or live nearby to one, try to arrange some time to talk to the tutors and teachers that work on the relevant courses for your profession.
Finally, becoming a hair and beauty professional often involves training on the job. This means you’re likely to have less debt and earn more from the outset than others who stay on at college or go to university. So even though your starting salary may seem relatively low, you might not have the same level of debt to clear as those who stay studying.
But although you might end up with less debt after you finish studying, a cost that you will have bear in mind is insurance. There are a lot of risks that could impact on your salary if they aren’t covered, so making sure that you have the right hair and beauty insurance is a must. So don’t forget to factor this in when you're planning out your monthly budget and figuring.