HNC Hairdressing

Higher National Qualifications provide practical skills and theoretical knowledge that meet the needs of employers. The HNC in Hairdressing (SCQF level 7) provides underpinning knowledge and skills required to work in the hairdressing industry. Learners will become competent in a range of cutting and colouring skills and techniques, and hair and scalp treatments, as well as in the use of social media which will enable them to seek employment in the hairdressing sector.

This subject will not have alternative assessment guidance for session 2023-24. You should refer to the Group Award/Unit specifications for detailed delivery and assessment information. For general support on delivery and assessment see the HNVQ assessment guidance 2023-24.

Higher National Qualifications have been developed by SQA in partnership with colleges, universities and industry ¿ so employers recognise that they provide sound evidence of ability.

The unit-based structure supports flexibility. A unit is typically 40 hours of timetabled learning.

The mode of delivery for the HNC in Hairdressing can be either full-time or part-time at the discretion of the delivering centre.

The HNC in Hairdressing is suitable for a wide range of learners, including those with the SVQ at SCQF level 6 Hairdressing or an equivalent qualification. It is suitable for direct entrants with occupationally relevant skills and experience.


As with all SQA qualifications, entry is at the discretion of the centre.

Examples of formal entry qualifications include:

  • SVQ at SCQF level 6 in Hairdressing
  • relevant skills and work experience

Different combinations of relevant National Qualifications, vocational qualifications and equivalent qualifications from other awarding bodies may also be acceptable.

Progression and employment

Learners who successfully complete the qualification may progress to employment within the hairdressing industry or progress to further study.  There are a number of progression routes from this award into qualifications such as the PDA or Professional Development Award in Barbering Practice at SCQF Level 7 or the PDA Hairdressing Practice at SCQF Level 8.

Centres with devolved authority for approval should use their own internal approval process.

Centres without devolved authority are required to come forward for approval and should contact SQA's Business Development Team for guidance.

Assessors and verifiers must be able to meet SQA's general requirements for technical/occupational competence as outlined in the Systems and Qualification Approval Guide.

The responsibility is with the centre to fully comply with the EU Directive and be aware of the Pre-16 Restrictions set out by the Sector Skills Body, HABIA, (European Directive Pre-16 Restrictions).

Each individual unit specification gives detailed information on the evidence requirements and approaches to assessment for each unit.

Assessment support packs and e-assessment are available for this qualification. SOLAR assessment will be available for Outcome 1 - Principles of Colouring and Outcomes 1 and 2 - Hair, Skin and Scalp Conditions and Treatments.

HNC Hairdressing

Group Award code: GP7W 15 (96 SCQF credit points)

HNC Hairdressing at SCQF level 7 consists of 6 mandatory units (88 SCQF credit points) and one optional unit (8 SCQF Credit Points)