Ministry of Business and Innovation - Occupation Outlook

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Hairdressers and Barbers

Job Prospects

Job Prospects... At a glance

The number of hairdressers and barbers has increased in recent years, and job prospects are considered as average. Their slightly-below-average income partly reflects the relatively high proportion of part-time workers in the industry.

There is always demand for the service hairdressers provide, and employment prospects are more positive for those who are fully qualified and experienced.

How to become a hairdresser or barber

What they do

Hairdressers cut, colour, style and care for clients’ hair and scalps. Most hairdressing skills are learnt on the job. Barbers primarily cut men’s hair, and sometimes they also shave their customers. Barbers do not colour hair.

Their tasks may include:

  • providing advice on hair care, beauty products and hairstyles
  • shampooing hair and conditioning scalps
  • colouring, straightening and permanently waving hair with chemical solutions
  • cutting hair with scissors, clippers and razors
  • styling hair into dreadlocks and braids and adding hair extensions
  • shaving and trimming beards and moustaches
  • cleaning work areas and sanitising instruments
  • arranging appointments and collecting payments
  • cleaning, colouring, cutting and styling wigs and hairpieces.

Qualifications needed

Some people complete full-time training over one or two years in hairdressing or barbering at a polytechnic or other training provider.

In the first year of a full-time hairdressing course, trainees usually gain the New Zealand Certificate in Hairdressing (Salon Support) (Level 3). Some schools also offer the New Zealand Certificate in Hairdressing (Emerging Stylist) Level 4. Students who attend a full-time barbering course will spend 8-9 months to gain the New Zealand Certificate in Barber Skills (Level 3).

These hairdressing qualifications include some unit standards towards a Level 4 New Zealand Certificate in Hairdressing (Professional Stylist). . The units gained in the Barber Skills (Level 3) qualification can go towards the New Zealand Certificate in Commercial Barbering (Level 4). Both the Professional Stylist (Level 4) and Commercial Barbering (Level 4) qualifications contain practical work experience components that must be completed in a commercial salon or barbershop.  

To be eligible for entry to most hairdressing or barbering qualifications, you will need at least 3 years of secondary education. Good maths, art, English and communication skills are also useful.


The New Zealand Certificate in Hairdressing (Professional Stylist) (Level 4) is usually gained after four years working as an apprentice. The New Zealand Certificate in Commercial Barbering (Level 4) can also be completed by doing a barbering apprenticeship, which takes 2.5 years

Apprentices are employees of a salon or barbershop and gain on-the-job experience while also undertaking training at a polytechnic or other training provider. They are employed and paid by the business they train in.

Cost of study

New Zealand Certificate in Hairdressing (Salon Support - Level 3)Hairdressing Apprenticeship (HITO)
$7,000 over 34 weeks $3,000 over four years
New Zealand Certificate in Barber Skills (Level 3)Barbering Apprenticeship (HITO)
$7,500 over 36 weeks $1,600 over two and a half years

Average costs in 2018 for a domestic student. Costs vary between institutions. First time students may be eligible for  fees-free tertiary education for their first year of study, which will reduce the total cost. For more information about fees-free eligibility, go to Some polytechnics may have a zero-fees scheme. Further costs include materials, textbooks, and accommodation.

The StudyLink website provides general budget advice for students, and the Sorted website provides help with detailed budget planning.

Rents vary from place to place. Estimated market rents by region, city and suburb are available on the MBIE Tenancy Services website.

Tenancy Services: 

Other programmes

If you are a secondary school student interested in becoming a hairdresser or a barber, you can complete the Gateway programme. The Gateway programme allows you to spend up to two days a week in a salon or barbershop, so you can learn about the industry and a potential career in hairdressing, and gain unit standards at the same time.

Gateway programme:

Where to study

About 26 organisations offer Level 3 certificates in hairdressing. There are 12 organisations throughout New Zealand who offer local hairdressing qualifications at Level 4.

The New Zealand Hair and Beauty Industry Training Organisation (HITO) is responsible for on-the-job training for hairdressers and barbers.

NZQA, hairdressing organisations. Level 4: 

Completed qualifications

Although the number of students completing a Level 3 Certificate in Hairdressing fell for 2017, there has been a rise in the number of people completing the Level 4 Certificate in Hairdressing.

Number of students completing a hairdressing qualification

Source: Ministry of Education

Income and employment prospects


In 2019, the average annual income for hairdressers and barbers was estimated to be around $33,600, which partly reflects the number of hairdressers who work part-time.

Estimated Average Income

Source: MBIE estimates based on Statistics NZ Census and Labour Cost Index

A hairdresser’s pay depends on their experience and the number of clients they have. Once qualified, an experienced hairdresser can earn up to $50,000 or more.

Employment and skill shortages

Hairdressers and barbers’ employment

HistoricProjected Growth
2006 2013 2023 2028
8,772 8,880 9,450 10,320
  0.2% 1.1% 1.5%

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections. Percentages are compound annual growth rates.
*Growth projections are for the broader category “Other Personal Services Workers”.

Hairdressers and barbers’ employment is expected to grow at 1.1% until 2023 and at 1.5% until 2028.

Employment prospects within the hairdressing industry are relatively good. This is because demand for the service remains relatively stable, even in times of economic recession. However, demand is likely to be higher at senior levels, and the number of apprenticeships has decreased over the past few years, making the industry more difficult to move into.

Employment chart

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections

Where to find job vacancies

Hairdresser vacancies are advertised through websites such as Trade Me Jobs and Seek.

Trade Me Jobs: 

Career path

Once fully qualified and experienced, hairdressers can work in a variety of areas like film, TV, magazines or fashion shows, and in different locations such as cruise ships or resorts.

Some hairdressers and barbers choose to move into salon management or open their own business, whereas others move into training. Local, national and international competitions offer opportunities for talented hairdressers.

Related occupations

The following occupations are related roles or alternative titles. Some of the roles may require a higher level of skill than entry-level hairdressers or barbers.

  • Beautician
  • Beauty Therapist
  • Hair Stylist
  • Make-up Artist

Other information


More information on a career in hairdressing is available on the Careers New Zealand website.

Careers New Zealand:

The NZ Hair and Beauty Industry Training Organisation Inc (HITO) provides comprehensive information on the industry, qualifications, apprenticeships and job vacancies.


Just the Job video clip: A Career in Hairdressing
Just the Job video clip: A Career in Hairdressing
Just the Job video clip: A Career in Hairdressing


The Australian New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) is the official classification of occupations in New Zealand.

The occupation of hairdressers and barbers has been coded to the following ANZSCO codes for the purpose of this report:

3911 – Hairdressers