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Last Updated: Friday, 4 March 2005, 18:55 GMT
Hairdressers 'happiest at work'
Sarah Parish as Allie Henshall and Amanda Holden as Mia Bevan in series two of the hairdressing drama 'Cutting It".
Happy snippers? "Cutting It" told a different story
When it comes to happiness at work, hairdressers appear to be a cut above the rest, a new league table suggests.

According to examiner City & Guilds, hairdressers are the happiest workers in the UK, with two out of five saying they are very content in their job.

Next in the happiness stakes are the clergy, chefs, beauticians, and plumbers and mechanics.

In contrast, social workers, architects, civil servants and estate agents made up the foot of the table.

Only 2% of social workers and architects say they are extremely happy at work, according to the survey.

Happy crimpers

Jonathan Pickup, who has been a hairdresser for 21 years, and works at the Slice Salon in Newcastle, says he loves his job.

Hairdressers (40%)
Clergy (24%)
Chefs/cooks (23%)
Beauticians (22%)
Plumbers (20%)
*% who rated their level of happiness as 10 out of 10 in brackets

"It's quite a young environment - it's quite trendy. You mix with quite a lot of young people. You get to my age and it is quite nice to be around people who are eager in their job," he told BBC Radio Five Live's Wake Up to Money programme.

A TUC report issued this week found hairdressers did less unpaid overtime than any other occupation.

Michael Osbaldeston of City & Guilds said there were plenty of reasons why hairdressers should be happy.

Social Workers (2%)
Architects (2%)
Civil Servants (3%)
Estate Agents (4%)
Secretaries (5%)
*% who rated their level of happiness as 10 out of 10 in brackets

"It is the relationship they have with their client which makes the job what it is," he said.

"They are appreciated. They make people feel good and look good. Many of them have the opportunity to be their own bosses and that also seems to be something that is quite important in people's happiness."

Your comments:

As a childcare worker I have immense job satisfaction, as if you have a from in your care when they are a baby and you see them grow up you can say that you have contributed to the child's education and you have encouraged their development!
Kelly Thwaytes, Wigton, Cumbria, England

I was a Barber for thirteen years and enjoyed the daily interaction with my regular customers. We had music playing all day in the background and it was very relaxing. I then went to University and now work in an office and I find myself thinking back to those happy times. On the negative side though the pay was not very good.
Mark , Cambridge

I'm a building engineer and can totally see why the top five professions are so happy. They get to interact with people on a personal level and provide a service that is greatly appreciated by making people happy.

By contrast what I do is seen as boring, un-important and a target to attack. It's little wonder I feel depressed, unappreciated and like my job has little value or benefit to peoples lives. No one smiles when I do good job or says thank you. It's little wonder Engineering is one of the least popular professions that people want to go into.
Anonymous, UK

What a shame to see that Estate Agents are unhappy! (I'd have thought that aftershave fumes alone would have made their day bearable.)
Robert MacCombe, Strabane, Northern Ireland

It is noticeable that none of the top five happiest professions involves working in an office.
Peter ,

I am a former hairdresser (I spent 10 years in the job) and gave up 8 years ago to do a degree. I am now working at a university and have regular hours, no back problems, Saturdays to do what I want with and no late nights. There is nothing I miss about hairdressing - the only good thing to come out of it was the fact that I met my husband (he was my boss) and we have been happily married for 10 years. Incidentally, he gave up hairdressing too!
Jill Handley, Norwich, UK

My mother is a hairdresser and the profession is basically the family business with both my mother and her sister working with my Gran before she recently passed away. My Aunt chose to go into hairdressing while my mother had less choice about the matter which explains why she hates it.

My aunt increasingly dislikes it. They are on their feet from 8am till 5, wages in hairdressing are not good and a lot of independent businesses have to struggle with paying the minimum wage. They also find it harder to entice younger people into the job and in various points in my life there have been so many juniors that come and go and just leave hairdressing after a year or two as it doesn't pay if you aren't one of the top salons.

I did summer work there as a teenager and hated every minute of it. There was no way in the world I would want to be a stylist and am now very content working in IT.
Jacqueline , Welwyn Garden City, Herts

I really relate to this table! I work full time as a civil servant and hate it! I work in an office by myself and actually get quite depressed at times, I'm doing an NVQ2 course in hairdressing two nights a week at college and I love it !! I now know the meaning of the phrase ' scissor happy'
Sarah, Belfast

It is well-known that the most important elements in what makes for a 'happy job' are personal control and social relationships - clearly hairdressers get a lot of both these factors. They also get good (as in immediate) feedback on the quality of their work - another pleasant attribute of work. However happiness is not the only game in town - there is also the question of interest and meaningfulness - and I reckon if they had asked civil servants, architects and social workers about this very important aspect of people's experience of work - they might have found a reversal of fortunes!
Nic Marks Head of Well-being Research New Economics Foundation, Oxford

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