The pros and cons of having a career as a hairdresser or barber

The pros and cons of having a career as a hairdresser or barber

What is it really like to be a hairdresser or barber? Chisholm Hair, Beauty and Make-up Education Manager Marisa Ganci gets real about the industry.


For Chisholm Hair, Beauty and Make-up Education Manager Marisa Ganci, many of her hairdressing clients have become like family over the years.

“I have a client I have been doing since I was a second-year apprentice at 16 years old,” she says.

“I still do her hair every five weeks to this day (I’ve been in the industry 38 years). She has followed me no matter where I’ve worked – from salon to salon, and when I had my babies, I did her hair from home.

“These days, I still do her hair from home and it’s a bit of a social event.”

After almost four decades in the business, Marisa is still as passionate about hairdressing as the day she began.

Here, she shares some of the highs and lows of life as a hairdresser or barber.


Emotional satisfaction

Making other people feel good about themselves can be extremely emotionally rewarding and motivating, Marisa says.

“You get the privilege of making someone feel beautiful or attractive,” she says. “That’s probably one of the best things about the job.”


Another perk to a career in hairdressing or barbering is the flexibility, says Marisa.

“You have the opportunity to work in a hair salon for someone or you can run your own business,” she says.

“You can become mobile and you don’t have to be restricted to set days or set times if you’re following your own path.

“You can go into education. Really, the options are limitless.”

Meet interesting people

Marisa says a career in hairdressing or barbering is also very social.

“You get the opportunity to meet so many people,” she says.

“When you build that rapport with your clients, you go through their lives with them. You go through the highs and the lows, and it can be a beautiful journey over many years.”

Travel opportunities

A career in hairdressing or barbering enables you to travel and take your skills with you.

Australian hairdressers are sought after overseas, especially in the UK and America, says Marisa.


The industry is constantly evolving. Every season, there’s a new trend, which keeps things interesting.

“You never get bored with hairdressing – there’s always something to learn from another stylist,” says Marisa.

“There are so ways to achieve the same result in our industry. It’s very flexible and adaptable.”


Physically demanding

Hairdressers and barbers spend most of their day on their feet, so it can be a physically demanding job.

You’ll need to be prepared to be active and work hard. Marisa says looking after yourself and getting the basics right (good nutrition, adequate sleep, etc.) is important and will sustain you in the long term.

Not financially rewarding

Generally speaking, the pay isn’t great in hairdressing or barbering.

According to, the average annual salary for hairdresser jobs in Australia ranges from $35,000 to $55,000, or $25 to $35 an hour.

The Australian Government’s Labour Market Insights website lists median full-time earnings as $1038 per week and median hourly earnings as $27.

However, if job satisfaction and doing something you’re passionate about is more important to you than your payslip, hairdressing or barbering can still be a fulfilling career.

Managing difficult clients

As with many service jobs, not all of your clients are going to be awesome.

You’ll likely need to deal with cancellations, no-shows, unrealistic hair expectations and managing difficult clients.

What about hairdressing versus barbering?

Hairdressers wash, cut, colour and style hair, as well as offering other services like product advice and hair extensions.

Barbers offer hair care services like cutting, shaving and styling, plus general grooming services. If you’ve ever seen a bloke with a perfectly manicured moustache, beautifully oiled beard or flawless fade, chances are they’ve seen a barber.

“Barbering has really flourished in the last 10 years,” says Marisa.

“A lot of barbers are self-taught. It’s just become formalised again and there’s a course with specialised units for barbering.”

Attributes needed to become a hairdresser or barber

  • Great communication skills
  • Passion for the job
  • A willingness to work hard and be on your feet

Hairdressing courses and barbering courses

You can get qualified and get working with one of Chisholm’s hairdressing or barbering courses:

Chisholm has fully functioning salons where you’ll be trained to work in a real salon environment.

Tip: If you already hold a Certificate III in Hairdressing, you may be able to upgrade to a barbering qualification in approximately 12 weeks. Get in touch to find out more.

Ready to chase your calling?

There is enormous demand for hairdressers and barbers at the moment, so it’s worth exploring it as a career option.

To find out more, head to Chisholm’s hairdressing page. Chisholm offers Free TAFE for Priority Courses. Find out about your eligibility.