A hairdresser apprentice assists a senior or more experienced hairdresser in all types of salon procedures, from shampooing to cutting and coloring hair. A beginning hairdresser apprentice may be responsible for everyday tasks, such as cleaning the floor and sterilizing the hair cutting equipment, while an established apprentice may apply chemical treatments to a client's hair while under the supervision of an experienced hairdresser. A hairdresser apprentice may begin his or her experience by simply shampooing hair or booking appointments, however, as the apprenticeship matures, the apprentice will be given increasingly difficult tasks to perform within the salon.
For many would-be stylists, becoming a hairdresser apprentice is a means to gaining entry into the salon business. Some salons will allow a person to begin working as a hairdresser apprentice with only minimal training. Learning a trade through on-the-job training typically requires patience and determination. The early apprentice is often given the most mundane jobs in the salon prior to being allowed to actually work with customers. Many times it is a self-taught hairdresser who applies for an apprenticeship. This process allows a person without formal schooling to become a hairdresser, while at the same time protecting the clients as the apprentice gains and perfects skills.
It is common for a hairdresser apprentice to wash customers' hair to ready them for an experienced hairdresser. This provides the apprentice with an opportunity to build rapport with a customer and begin to work on the people skills necessary for becoming a hairdresser. A large component of the apprenticeship program is to assist the new hairdresser in honing his or her people skills by placing them in positions where they can control conversations. In some salons, the apprentice will assist the hairdresser in coloring, conditioning and styling. In many instances, any tip will be divided equally between the two hairdressers.
Once a hairdresser apprentice has completed the apprenticeship, the new hairdresser can typically submit an application for employment with the salon. Occasionally, the new hairdresser will choose to seek employment in another salon. When this happens, the new salon will typically contact both the apprentice's instructor as well as the salon owner to discuss the qualifications of the applicant and any concerns. Once satisfied with the information received, the new salon may make an offer of employment to the applicant. It is customary for many salons to require a probationary period as a condition of employment when hiring stylists.