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This page provides information and data on the Hairdressing sector, which is one component of the Personal Service industry.

The Hairdressing sector includes a range of hair-related services, such as hair cutting, colouring and styling, as well as facial hair grooming.

The hairdressing and beauty sub-sectors together generated revenue of $6.5 billion in 2018, and collectively employed 120,700 workers. It is a highly competitive sector which has been growing steadily over the past five years and is made up primarily of micro and small-to-medium sized business.

Nationally recognised training for Hairdressing is delivered under the SHB – Hairdressing and Beauty Services Training Package.

For information on beauty services, see Beauty.

Information sourced from the Personal Services IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

All data sources are available at the end of the page.

IRC and Skills Forecasts

Employment trends

Employment snapshot

As detailed employment information is unavailable for this sector, employment levels for Hairdressers have been used as a proxy. Employment levels for Hairdressers have increased overall between 2000 and 2019, though there has been variability. Between 2008 and 2011 employment fell from approximately 63,000 to around 46,400, before rising to over 66,600 in 2012. Employment for Hairdressers was approximately 77,800 in 2019 and is projected to reach 79,600 by 2024. Hairdressers make up over 58% of the related Hairdressing and Beauty Services industry workforce.

Training trends

Training snapshot

After a slight increase in program enrolments in Hairdressing-related qualifications between 2016 and 2017 (approximately 23,250 and 23,930 respectively), enrolments declined to less than 19,550 in 2018. Program completions have followed a relatively similar pattern, with an increase recorded between 2016 and 2017 (approximately 5,620 and 6,110 respectively), followed by a decline to roughly 5,290 in 2018. Most qualifications were at the certificate III level (70%) or certificate II level (27%). Most enrolments in 2018 were for hairdressing (62%) or salon assistant (27%) qualifications, with the main intended occupations identified as Hairdresser, and Hair or Beauty Salon Assistant.

Enrolments in this sector were predominantly split between TAFE institutions (52%) and private training providers (40%), with the exception of Salon Management and Hairdressing Creative Leadership which was mainly delivered by private training providers (94%). Most enrolments were Commonwealth and state funded (85%). In 2018, the largest proportion of enrolments in this sector were by students in Victoria (33%), New South Wales (22%) and Queensland (22%). More than a third of all training was delivered in Victoria (35%), followed by New South Wales (23%) and Queensland (22%).

Apprentice and trainee commencements and completions in this sector fell overall between 2010 and 2018, although there was a brief rise in commencements in 2017 to approximately 4,130, this declined to 3,730 in 2018. There were close to 1,850 apprentice and trainee completions in 2018, a decrease of more than 50% since 2010. Almost all apprentices and trainees in this sector have the intended occupation of Hairdresser. In 2018, the largest proportion of apprentices and trainees in this sector were reported by New South Wales (28%), Queensland (27%) and Victoria (20%).

For more data specific to your occupation, industry or training package, visit NCVER’s VET students by industry. If you are prompted to log in, select cancel and you will continue to be directed to the program.

For more data specific to your region visit NCVER’s Atlas of Total VET.

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Industry insights

Industry insights on skills needs

The Personal Services IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast acknowledges the importance of technical skills in order to perform job tasks, however a range of soft skills were highlighted as key priority skills for those involved in the Personal Services industry (including Hairdressing), including:

  • Teamwork and communication
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility
  • Self-management
  • Creativity.

In addition, the following generic skills were highlighted as key for the Personal Services industry (inclusive of Hairdressing):

  • Customer service / Marketing
  • Communication / Collaboration including virtual collaboration/ Social intelligence
  • Design mindset / Thinking critically / System thinking / Solving problems
  • Learning agility / Information literacy / Intellectual autonomy and self-management
  • Language, Literacy and Numeracy (LLN).

The job vacancy information incorporates both the Hairdressing and Beauty Services industries as more specific industry information is unavailable. The top hairdressing occupations were recorded as Hairdresser and Hair or Beauty Salon Assistant, with Just Cuts Incorporated and Hairhouse Warehouse identified as the top employers.

The Personal Services IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast highlights that future growth in the Hairdressing industry is expected to be driven, in part, by the rise in popularity of specialised male grooming salons and organic salons. Further, the Personal Services IRC’s 2018 Skills Forecast suggested the growing male customer base in this sector, along with the revival of the barbershop, is making an impact on hairdressing and the associated skill requirements. Workers need skills in facial hair grooming and wet shaving to obtain roles in this growing market. The relatively new Certificate III in Barbers was endorsed in 2016 to address this area of the sector, but the newness of the qualification means there is uncertainty over how this works in practice as an apprenticeship. Some of those working as Barbers have spent many years in the profession and will not consider obtaining the qualification as they feel they are at a higher skill level. In addition, a report by the Retail and Personal Services Training Council (RAPS) highlights that the barbering sector has reported a shortage of qualified barbers, and that cutting skills are reported to be at a low level across the industry.

The Personal Services IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast identified a range of challenges and opportunities faced by the Hairdressing industry, primarily relating to skills shortages, attraction and retention of workers and government policy / legislation changes.

Skills shortages are being experienced across the Hairdressing industry, with businesses struggling to find skilled and experienced staff. Concerns have been raised that Graduates being trained through the VET system are not meeting employer expectations, generally due to inadequate training materials and the uptake of short, condensed and/or non-accredited training. This is further compounded by many students being unable to develop real work experience during their training, which is largely attributed to salons tending not to hire apprentices (because of the considerable constraints they face as employers), and the rise in popularity of home-based salons.

The challenges associated with attracting new workers to the Personal Services industry are in part attributed to influencers such as teachers, school career advisors and parents discouraging young people from pursuing a career in the industry due to the occupations not being valued as providing feasible career pathways. Increasing hairdressing apprenticeship attrition rates are also of concern to the industry, rising from 61.8% in 2015 to 68.6% in 2017.

A lack of appropriate regulation and inconsistent standards between states and territories has not only created space for the growth of unregulated home-based salons, but also inconsistency in training between jurisdictions. For example, in New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania, salons must be operated by a registered hairdresser, however in Victoria anyone can operate a salon (unless they want to hire an apprentice, then they must be qualified), while in the Northern Territory, Queensland and Australian Capital Territory there are no operating restrictions apart from the stipulation that apprentices and trainees must always be supervised. The Personal Services IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast is calling on licencing and regulation to be reintroduced to the Hairdressing industry.

Links and resources

Industry associations and advisory bodies

Australian Hairdressing Council

Hair and Beauty Australia

Hair and Beauty Industry Association


Relevant research

Environmental scan 2015 – Service Skills Australia

Industry Developments and Workforce Challenges: Hairdressing – Retail and Personal Services Training Council (RAPS)

Personal Services IRC’s 2018 Skills Forecast – Skills IQ

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment, 2018, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal

  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations, employment projections to May 2023
    • 3911 Hairdressers
    • 4116 Massage Therapists
    • 4511 Beauty Therapists
    • 4518 Other Personal Service Workers.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018, Employed persons by Occupation unit group of main job (ANZSCO), Sex, State and Territory, August 1986 onwards, 6291.0.55.003 - EQ08, viewed 1 November 2018

  • Employed total by ANZSIC 4 digit ‘3911 Hairdressers’, 2000 to 2018, May Quarter.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, 2016 Census – employment, income and unpaid work, TableBuilder. Findings based on use of ABS TableBuilder data.

  • Employment level by 4 digit 9511 Hairdressing and Beauty Services Industry, and 4 digit level occupations to identify the relevant VET-related occupations in the industry as a proportion of the total workforce.

Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection, Total VET Student and Courses from the following training packages or qualifications:

  • SHB Hairdressing and Beauty Services, SIH Hairdressing and WRH Hairdressing Training Packages
  • Barbering
    • SHB30516 - Certificate III in Barbering
  • Hairdressing
    • SHB30416 - Certificate III in Hairdressing
    • SHB40216 - Certificate IV in Hairdressing
    • SIH30111 - Certificate III in Hairdressing
    • SIH40111 - Certificate IV in Hairdressing
    • WRH30100 - Certificate III in Hairdressing
    • WRH30106 - Certificate III in Hairdressing
    • WRH30109 - Certificate III in Hairdressing
    • WRH40100 - Certificate IV in Hairdressing
    • WRH40106 - Certificate IV in Hairdressing
    • WRH40109 - Certificate IV in Hairdressing
  • Salon Assistant
    • SHB20216 - Certificate II in Salon Assistant
    • SIH20111 - Certificate II in Hairdressing
    • WRH20100 - Certificate II in Hairdressing
    • WRH20106 - Certificate II in Hairdressing
    • WRH20109 - Certificate II in Hairdressing
  • Salon Management & Hairdressing Creative Leadership
    • SHB50216 - Diploma of Salon Management
    • SIB50210 - Diploma of Salon Management
    • SIH80113 - Graduate Certificate in Hairdressing Creative Leadership.

This includes superseded qualifications and training packages.

Data covers a range of selected student and training characteristics in the following categories and years:

  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 program enrolments
  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 program completions.

Total VET students and courses data is reported for the calendar year. Program enrolments are the qualifications, courses and skill-sets in which students are enrolled in a given period. For students enrolled in multiple programs, all programs are counted. Program completion indicates that a student has completed a structured and integrated program of education or training. Subject enrolment is registration of a student at a training delivery location for the purpose of undertaking a module, unit of competency or subject. For more information on the terms and definitions please refer to the Total VET students and courses: terms and definitions document. 

Low counts (less than 5) are not reported to protect client confidentiality.

Percentages are rounded to one decimal place. This can lead to situations where the total sum of proportions in a chart may not add up to exactly 100%.

SHB Hairdressing and Beauty Services, SIH Hairdressing and WRH Hairdressing Training Packages apprentice and trainee data has been extracted from the National Apprentice and Trainee collection, including:

  • 2010 to 2018 commencements
  • 2010 to 2018 completions 
  • 2018 apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2018 collection, by qualification and state and territory.

Priority skills data have been extracted from the Personal Services IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2019, Labor Insight Real-time Labor Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2019,

Data shown represent most requested occupations and employers according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2016 and June 2019 filtered by ANZSIC and ANZSCO classification levels listed below.

  • Occupations
    • Technicians and Trades Workers, Community and Personal Service Workers
    • 9511 Hairdressing and Beauty Services
  • Top employers
    • 391111 Hairdresser
    • 399514 Make Up Artist
    • 451111 Beauty Therapist
    • 451812 Hair or Beauty Salon Assistant
    • 411611 Massage Therapist
    • 9511 Hairdressing and Beauty Services.
Updated: 02 Apr 2020
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