12 Hairdressing Careers That Don't Involve Working In A Salon

Published 28th Dec 2023 by charlottegw

Working in a salon and having a thriving column is a much coveted career trajectory, but there are many paths to successful hairdressing careers that don't involve being behind a chair.

From working backstage on TV shows to perfecting hair at a funeral home (yes, really), we uncover the diverse and rewarding routes a career in hairdressing could take you. Plus, those in the know share the skills and training you will need to ace your chosen path.

The Hairdressing Influencer – Jaymz Marsters

“I trained as a hairdresser as the social media boom was taking off, and I believe social media is a big part of the industry. I wouldn't say I am a hairdressing influencer as such, but I do see myself as someone who uses Instagram to build a client base and encourage other stylists to build their social media presence. You can influence others, whether you have 50 or 500,000 followers. As social media has developed, it's become more important to be consistent with your uploads. With the new algorithms on social platforms you need to be regimented or you will fall off people's feeds and your engagement will drop. Uploading content daily is something I must do, and because of this, I photograph every client and keep a catalogue of images to schedule uploads on a day when I am not in the salon. I also have content creation days, where I source models in my local area to have their hair coloured to my choosing. This allows me to create content for my social channels which I know will get high traction. Finding my unique selling point was a challenge, but if you are targeting local users see what others are doing in your area and try and tap into a 'gap in the market'. At the time, no one around me was creating vivid hair so I latched onto it and moved my image and career in that direction.”

The Hair Loss Specialist – Wil Fleeson, consultant Trichologist

“I find hairdressing is upbeat, whereas trichology is intense and emotional, so it can be tricky to do both in the same day. It takes around 18 months to two years to get a trichology qualification. If you are working at the same time, it requires a lot of effort – you need to study about 20 hours a week and research on top of that. The drop off rate for studying trichology is very high, but the job is so rewarding it’s worth the commitment. It’s the best feeling being able to tell people what’s going on with their scalp and how you can work together to improve it.”

The TV Stylist – Luca Jones

“I moved to London nine years ago to start my freelance career, and within three months I was touring with Dancing on Ice. That season gave me a crash course in doing hair for TV shows. After the tour, I was asked to work on other TV shows and my dreams slowly started to come true. Eight years ago I met the head of the hair department and that’s when my Strictly Come Dancing journey began. I wish I could give a secret recipe to get a career in TV styling, but as any other dream job, skills, professionalism and being in the right place at the right time, are all factors. It’s lots of hard work, especially in the beginning – Idid many free test shoots to build my portfolio and said yes to every opportunity. You never know who you will meet on a shoot, and it can snowball from a single job. Freelance styling is a completely different skill from salon styling – on set nobody cares if you do a great root melt. Showcasing your styling ability is a must to get the roles you aspire to, so hone those skills.”
This was taken from an interview that originally appeared in the December 2022 issue of HJ. 


The Hairdresser’s Photographer – Richard Miles, Photographer

“As a photography university graduate, I wanted to specialise in fashion and beauty. My first test happened to be a hair shoot and I found hair imagery was a perfect balance of these two areas. My big break was shooting for Royston Blythe and Nick Malenko when I was 22. The shoot was featured in industry magazines and my client list grew from there. One of the best parts of my job is working with a team. Over the years I’ve built a good rapport with make-up artists, fashion stylists, hairdressers and models on shoots. I only have 10 to 15 minutes to get ‘the shot’ from each model, so I have to develop a relationship quickly. When shooting I try to bring the hair to life and to make it tell a story in a beautiful way. I need the hair to be the hero. Re-touching is another important skill. You need to be sensitive enough to not spoil the intimacy of the image, but still remove any distractions that get in the way of the story. My advice? Let your own style be your unique selling point. Don’t try to copy others because they will always execute their style better than you can copy it.”

The Avant Garde Hairdresser – Shelley Pengilly, owner, Shelley’s

“My first experience of avant garde hairdressing happened when I worked as an assistant in a local salon and had the opportunity to go to a trade show with their team. I watched my first avant garde stage show and from that moment I felt so inspired. Avant garde work is not about pleasing others. It is pure art and an expression of what is in my mind. My avant garde career flourished when I became a milk_shake ambassador. The brand developed and we began doing lots of shows which led to more creative avant garde pieces. The opportunities have magnified now that I am on the brand’s global artistic team and I’ve become milk_shake’s leading avant garde hair artist.”

The Hairdresser for the Homeless – Stewart Roberts, founder Haircuts4Homeless

“After a 40-year career in hairdressing, I launched Haircuts4Homeless. In 2014 I took my scissors to a Salvation Army Centre in Romford where I volunteer and the rest is history. Anyone who wants a career in hairdressing has to love communicating with people. Those living on the streets often feel they have no voice and are invisible. But as great listeners, hairdressers are the perfect people to engage and build their confidence.” The first Haircuts4Homeless Academy opened its doors in 2019 to teach people on a low income a lifelong skill that will help them get into work. Even more recently, Haircuts4Homeless launched its all-new Ambassador Programme offering hair salons, barbers and spas throughout the UK to support the charity.

People on the streets often feel they have no voice and are invisible. But as great listeners, hairdressers are the perfect people to build their confidence.

The Prison Barber – Lynndy Rolfe, freelance hairdresser and barber

“I’ve been hairdressing since I was 16, but I’ve always been interested in psychology and criminology. When I saw a position for a barber to educate at a local prison, I thought it would be perfect. I’m a big believer in second chances – being the prison’s go-to barber gives inmates a sense of fulfilment and they get a qualification at the end of it. We make it feel like they are in a real barbershop and barbering gives them a sense of purpose within the prison.”  

The Funeral Home Hairstylist – Annie Gosling, funeral director 

“Part of my role is preparing the deceased for viewing which can include styling, trimming and colouring the hair. It is so rewarding to bring the deceased into a dignified state, often this will be the last memory a family will have of their loved one. When I am doing the hair, I always ask for a recent photo to prepare the hair as it was usually worn. We are often asked to colour the hair, touch up the roots, curl or straighten and occasionally trim the hair. I always shampoo and condition the hair, blow dry it and usually finish with a hot brush or tongs.

If you are interested in a funeral hairdressing career, go and talk to your local funeral home – it’s an industry which is always looking for compassionate and caring people.

We use products such as gels or mousses and I always finish it with hairspray to set the hair. Most people are elderly when they pass on, so the styles are usually simple and traditional. Some people wish to have their personal hairdresser come in to look after their loved one. If you are interested in a funeral hairdressing career, go and talk to your local funeral home – it’s an industry which is always looking for compassionate and caring people.”  

The Hairdressing Educator - Laura Leigh Kerr

"At the Rainbow Room International (RRI) Academy, we offer education through various courses. I also organise work experience places for mainstream and additional support needs schools. I am constantly tweaking our practices to progress training to meet the needs of the students and salons. Recently, I have become a mental health ambassador. The goal is that every stylist coming through RRI will be a mental health first aider with suicide prevention training. I have also always had a soft spot for helping disadvantaged youngsters. This has led me to become an Action for Children partner, helping teens from vulnerable backgrounds achieve a Level 1 in hairdressing and barbering. I'm also a Princes Trust partner, providing work experience, employability skills and interview prep to get kids started on their apprenticeship journey, as well as a mental health ambassador. My advice to anyone wanting to become an educator? Education can be one of the most rewarding aspects of a career. To train others to love the job as much as you do is just as fulfilling as running a column and working with clients on a daily basis."
This interview originally appeared in our November 2022 edition of Hairdressers Journal.

The Colour Technician and Educator – Emma Fowler

"I’ve specialised in colour my whole career, I love seeing the transformations you can do. Using different techniques and formulating colours tailored to your clients can create their wow moment that they get to wear every day. Technique is so important to me, and it’s an ever-evolving landscape. I do love a transformation, especially taking someone blonde in a day. We’ve come a long way since we had to do multiple sittings of full head highlights to get a client to blonde, and I think it’s actually better for a client’s hair health in the long run to get them blonde in as few bleaching sessions as possible – one session is also more cost effective than four separate ones. My advice for anyone wanting to be a colourist? Dive deep into colour theory and absorb it all. You might want to learn the latest technique but the theory will save you in the long run.”
This interview originally appeared in our February 2024 edition of Hairdressers Journal. 

The Session Stylist - Syd Hayes

"I first worked with session hairdresser Simon Maynard before I moved to Hershesons. That’s when I got into the high-end fashion world and I went on to work with Guido Palau in New York, assisting him for three years. I then decided I was going to come back to London in 2009 and work at my Dad’s salon Q Cut Hair & Beauty in Richmond, London. I actually now manage it, own it and run it alongside my salon manager - so I'm still involved in salon life, as well as the session world. My top tip for anyone looking to get into session? Never say no to anything – because you never know what’s going to happen. I also try to treat everyone the same because you never know when you’re going to bump into that person again and they might be able to help you in your career. But also, the hard work always pays off. I've been priveleged to work with the world’s best photographers, stylists and make-up artists, it really enhances you as a person."
This interview first appeared in the April 2023 issue of Hairdressers Journal.

This article was originally written by Charlotte Grant-West for the December 2018 issue of Hairdressers Journal. It has since been updated. 



Published 28th Dec 2023

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