Do you have passion or knack for trimming, shaving, and styling men’s hair? If so, a career as a barber may be a perfect fit for you! With a recent resurgence in the industry, being a barber today is a respectable career choice suitable for any ambitious gal or gent.
Thanks to a growing demand and optimal career outlook, the industry is in need of driven and talented individuals in search of a challenging yet undeniably fulfilling career in the world of men’s grooming. The first step down that path, however, is choosing a reputable barber school for your barbering education and certification.
- 1 Barber Schools by State
- 2 Barber Colleges by State
- 3 How to Become a Barber
- 4 How Long Does it Take to Become a Barber?
- 5 How Much Does Barber School Cost?
- 6 Online Barber Schools
- 7 Barber License and Certification
- 8 Barber License Requirements
- 9 Barber Salary – How Much Does a Barber Make?
- 10 Job Outlook for Barbers
- 11 Career Paths for Barbers
- 12 Typical Day in the Life of a Barber
- 13 Final Thoughts
Regardless of where you live, if you’re interested in how to be a barber and want to pursue this rewarding field I’ve come to love so much, you must pass a certification exam in order to obtain your barber license. This is needed to legally operate and achieve success in the field.
In addition to learning how to use successful barbering techniques to cut various types and styles of men’s hair, today’s barber students also learn how to perform traditional shaves and steam facials.
To top it all off, students in barber college or training often also learn business management and entrepreneurial skills. Since many barber school graduates open up their own shops and go into business for themselves, these skills tend to prove invaluable.
Keep reading to learn more about what it takes to be a successful barber and discover an excellent barber school or two along the way. Have fun and happy clipping!
Barber Schools by State
Barber Colleges by State
If you want to take your barbering education up a notch, then you’ll probably want to attend a specialized barber college rather than simply taking classes at a community or technical college. If so, this is the map for you.
Rather than waste your time Googling “barber college near me” and wasting hours jumping from site to site, simply click on your state and instantly begin researching quality barber colleges only a stone’s throw away!
How to Become a Barber
Depending on where you live, there may be a number of different paths available for becoming a barber. As you can see from the maps above, however, there are barber colleges and programs available throughout every state, so most aspiring barbers choose this route and gain a solid education in barbering fundamentals, the latest techniques, business management, and all of the areas needed to pass their state exam and gain their license.
Let’s take a closer look at this process so you leave here with no doubts as to what it takes to become a successful barber in your state:
Step 1 – Earn a High School Diploma
In most states, anyone interested in cosmetology or becoming a barber must be a high school graduate or have their GED. While some states allow individuals to become barbers through some sort of barber apprenticeship program, most states also require aspiring barbers and stylist to complete accredited barber training, and this requires a high school diploma. That being said, some high schools also partner with community colleges to offer barber or hair styling classes.
Step 2 – Help a Professional Barber
Regularly observing a barber or becoming an apprentice is a great way of determining if being a barber is the right career path for you. While they may not be able to allow you to cut people’s hair, a barber can allow you to observe their daily operations, teach you how to interact with customers, manage workflow, and so on.
Although cleaning equipment, organizing supplies, sweeping up around the shop, and running various errands may not sound appealing, the lessons learned from these experiences can be invaluable in your burgeoning barber career.
How to apply for the apprenticeship:
Step 3 – Complete a Reputable Barbering Program
From private barber programs to technical and community colleges, barber courses are widely available and provide you with an oftentimes required diploma or certificate when completed. Some programs are even structured to provide you with an associate’s degree.
Courses covered in today’s barber programs teach you a variety of barbering fundamentals for cutting, styling, shaving, and even coloring men’s hair. They also cover safety, sanitation, proper shop practices, marketing, management, state and federal laws, and more.
A certificate from a respected barber school can often be earned in under a year. Diploma programs, on the other hand, sometimes take up to 18 months to complete.
Step 4 – Obtain a License
The licensing requirements to become a barber vary by state. However, most states require a high school diploma or GED, the completion of a barbering program, and a passing score on a qualifying exam. Nearly all barber exams include both a written and oral or skills test. The exam can be taken whenever you’ve completed the required program hours and any other criteria established by the licensing authority in your state.
It’s important to note that some states may require you to complete further training after an initial exam and you may need to complete a final exam afterwards for full licensing.
Step 5 – Launch Your Own Shop or Find a Barbering Job
Unlike hairstylists, the majority of barbers, actually own and operate their own barber shops, providing them with a comfortable income and allowing them to truly live the American dream. This is an available option for you after completing your education and obtaining your barber license.
In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 76 percent of all licensed barbers in 2012 were self-employed. If you lack the capital to immediately launch your own shop and build up clientele, there are thousands of barber shops and salons across the country in need of talented, driven, and customer service-oriented guys and gals. The possibilities are endless.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Barber?
Like many people interested in becoming a barber, you’re probably wondering how long is barber school. Unfortunately, there’s no clear-cut answer, because the time it takes to gain your barbering education, get a license, and become a barber depends on where you live.
Most barber programs, however, take about nine months to complete. During this time, you’ll learn the fundamentals of barbering and a variety of common styles most often asked for by customers. If you plan on opening your own barber business, you may also take business management classes as well.
Today’s barber programs are provided by specialized barber colleges, community colleges, and technical colleges. The length of the program typically corresponds to the number of class hours needed to gain licensure in your state. Most programs at top barber schools last 9-12 months and involve the completion of 1,500 class hours.
How Much Does Barber School Cost?
The cost of attending barber school can differ noticeably by state and school. Different states have different minimum class hour and practice requirements in order to gain certification and licensure. Since barber programs in one state may require more class hours than barber programs in another, school costs can vary greatly.
Like everything in life, barber programs aren’t created equal, and some are better than the others. Some schools or programs only focus on preparing people to pass the exam and little more. These types of programs tend to be much cheaper than programs that integrate cosmetology skills as well and more diverse coursework in general.
I haven’t given you any figures yet, so how much is barber school? Well, believe it or not, the costs of attending barber school can range anywhere from $2,000 to over $15,000 depending on the comprehensiveness of the program and the state you’re residing in. However, when factoring in the cost of barber school, you must also account for the cost of living, books, school supplies, and other associated costs.
To ease the burden and financial stress of attending barber school and embarking on a new career endeavor, many barber students apply for grants and scholarships, which are often widely available for larger schools. Moreover, barber programs with national accreditation allow students to apply and become eligible for Pell Grants and federal student aid.
How to apply for grants and scholarships:
Online Barber Schools
Barbering is a hands-on occupation, so barber classes and training is usually completed in person. However, there are a number of online and hybrid barber courses available for barbers to fulfill their education requirements.
Now widely available at many two-year colleges and vocational schools, online and distance-learning barber courses are ideal for anyone trying to juggle work, school, and family life. In fact, just about every type of class you can think of is offered online these days, including:
- Basic Barbering
- Laws for Cosmetology and Barbering
- Safety and Sanitation
- Barber Instructor Training
- Barber Industry Business
These classes are just a small sampling of the type of courses offered in today’s online barber programs. If you have a full-time job and little time on your hands, you can rest assured there’s an online barber school out there for you.
Barber License and Certification
Like stockbrokers, realtors, and people in any number of professions, barbers must take and complete a licensing exam before being able to legally operate in their state. Therefore, it helps to know a little about the barber licensing requirements before you embark on your barbering journey.
Barber License Requirements
After obtaining your barber certification or degree, you need to apply to receive your barber license in order to become a licensed barber. So, how do you go about doing that?
Well, in order to gain your license and barber certification, you must first show proof that you’ve attended and completed a barber program from an accredited school. In doing so, you must show proof of the amount of hours you completed and ensure they meet or exceed the minimum number prescribed by your state’s licensing board.
When it comes to issuing barber licenses, each state has their own rules and regulations. You can keep reading below to find out the specific regulations and how to get a barber license in your state. When you’re ready to take the exam and file for your license, just make sure you have all of the paper work ready in order to expedite the process and help it go as smoothly as possible.
As you now know, passing the barbering exam is a critical part of earning a barber license in almost every state. The term “exam” may seem intimidating at first, but you’ll have nothing to worry about as long as you’ve studied diligently and completed a barber school program.
After you have passed the barber exam, all you have to do is sit back and wait to receive your license in the mail, which typically takes two to four weeks. If you study hard but fail the exam, you simply schedule a time to re-take the test. With that said, if you’re a good barber and you attend a quality school, you’ll have no problems acing the test!
Barber Salary – How Much Does a Barber Make?
After completing your barber education and training from a top-notch barbering school and passing your state licensing exam, you’re now ready to dive into the workforce and hopefully land a great barbering job. Before you do so, however, it may be wise to make sure the compensation you’re offered is competitive with other barber salaries.
According to the BLS, the average barber in the U.S. made $27,710 per year in 2013, with the top ten percent of barbers making $44,190 per year. Best of all, the salaries for well-trained barbers are expected to increase right along with the increased demand and job opportunities.
While these numbers may not seem impressive at first, it’s important to realize that these statistics are far from being highly accurate. You see, the bulk of what a barber makes is in tips, which are often reported inaccurately. In fact, master barbers who exude professionalism and take great pride in their craft often earn in excess of $75,000 per year.
With figures like this becoming more and more of the norm, especially for those catering to professionals with expendable cash, the cost of barber school is quite reasonable in comparison to the earnings potential of a well-trained barber.
Job Outlook for Barbers
You don’t have to do an in-depth search to realize that the job outlook for barbers is on the up and up. With new shops opening up in every town, it’s easy to see that more and more men are saying goodbye to large haircut franchises and hello to the smell of leather and the chatter of friends in barber shops across the nation.
Not surprisingly, the BLS states that 50,480 new barber jobs will need to be filled by 2018. Furthermore, it expects employment opportunities for barbers to grow by a whopping 11 percent by 2022. In addition to a renewed interest in barbershops in general, much of this growth can be attributed to the need to replace retiring barbers as well as a marked increase in the demand for personal care services as a whole. When all is said and done, thousands of new barber jobs are projected to be introduced this decade alone.
According to the BLS, states employing the most barbers are California, New York, Georgia, Washington, and Texas, with Texas being home to the most barbers by far. While there’s plenty of competition here in Austin and throughout the rest of the lonestar state, there are thousands of thriving barbers, myself included. Texas aside, the numbers don’t lie and it’s safe to say the job outlook for barbers is looking quite bright in just about every state.
Career Paths for Barbers
When most people hear the word “barber,” they normally envision someone who clips and snips at a little old shop with a striped pole spinning out front. Although plenty of barbers can be found snipping away in traditional barbershops, there are many other career options available for today’s barbers, including:
More so than any other profession, barbers benefit from a truly independent spirit and enjoy working for themselves, either in their very own shops or in leased spaces located in hotels, spas, and salons. While being a small business owner means you have to worry about insurance, taxes, and other headaches, the freedom and empowerment of owning your own barber business is second to none.
Personal Care Barbers
Sure, many barbers choose to open their own shop, but barbers also often find jobs working in established barbershops, salons, resorts, cruise ships, and other locations. Prisons, nursing homes, and retirement communities often hire barbers as well. Although it can be difficult and less than glamorous to work at these places, the pay is excellent, making them viable career paths for many barbers.
If you truly want to take your barber career to the next level, aside from owning a highly successful shop or being a barber to the rich and famous of course, becoming a barber instructor may be an option worth considering. Due to the need for accredited training in most states, there are hundreds of barber schools across the country in need of licensed and experienced barbers to instruct students on the proper hair, mustache, and beard grooming techniques. Becoming a barber instructor, however, often takes additional experience and license requirements.
If you truly have a passion for barbering and love perfecting the craft each and every day, then you may be the perfect candidate for a career as a master barber. Capable of working in any of the environments above, master barbers usually work with higher paying clientele who are willing to pay for their skill and expertise. Becoming a master barber generally requires additional training and licensing.
Typical Day in the Life of a Barber
By now, you know all about how to become a barber and what to look for when searching for the top barber schools, but you’re probably pretty curious as to what the typical day in the life of a barber is like. Well, I’ve been a professional barber for over two decades now and would be more than happy to share my typical day with you. It goes something like this:
8:30am: I arrive at the barber shop and after taking a sip or two of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee I turn on some music, turn on the lights, replace the newspapers on the rack, get the till ready, and relax as I get prepared for the day to begin. Sometimes we have gents waiting for us to open right when we arrive to avoid the busier times later in the day. Other times, they begin arriving a little later, which gives me plenty of time to do the most important barbering task of all: get the coffee brewing.
9:00am: I greet the first customer of the day, an older gent wanting a simple trim of the sides and back. Like many of my customers, I’m quite familiar with him and have been cutting his hair for years. Using traditional barbering techniques learned at any quality school, I trim him up and shave his neck while discussing the Cowboys or another sports team. There are plenty of things about being a barber that I like, but I really enjoy the social aspects of the profession and truly becoming a part of the community.
9:30am-noon: The shop usually receives a steady flow of customers as the day gets going and the town comes alive. Many days, the shop fills up pretty quickly after opening and there is a buzz in the air as my fellow barbers and I converse with customers and display our impeccable barbering skills.
Noon-1:00pm: I usually take my lunch at this time. Every shop is different, but the nice thing about being a barber at my shop is getting to enjoy a full hour lunch break. As a barber, you have to be happy to make your clients happy. Remember that.
1:00pm: I return turn to the barber shop and begin my barbering duties again while the other two barbers and longtime friends I employ begin taking their lunch breaks.
1:00-4:00pm: The afternoon stays quite busy as we see the typical wide-range of customers and haircuts. From retirees who joke about not having enough hair to cut to rambunctious and unwilling five-year olds who their parents blackmail with candy just to sit down still for a cut, we see them all and I did on this day. Everyone that comes in is quite entertaining and the shop is abuzz all afternoon with banter and laughs.
4:00pm: Customers are starting to trickle in less and less often now and for the first time all day there is no waiting list. Since we don’t close until five, I take advantage of the break in the action by doing some banking and picking up supplies. When I get back, however, there are two chaps waiting, so I get right back into it and begin helping the next customer, a younger guy wanting a more modern style. I’m happy to oblige.
5:00pm: The day flew by as usual and it’s now closing time. We didn’t have any new customers for the last 15 minutes prior to close, so everyone had plenty of time to tidy their stations and clean their clippers, scissors, razors, and combs. Since my last customer was at 4:00, my station was already clean and ready to go for the next day. Therefore, I began running the reports, gathering receipts, and tallying all of the money made throughout the day. By the time I finish, the guys have left, so I turn everything off, lock up, and get ready for another fun and busy day!
If you can picture yourself being a barber and living the life above, then a career as a barber may be a perfect fit for you! Before you can become a barber, however, you must choose a respected and accredited barber program or school for your training and certification.
Becoming a barber is a respectable career option full of fun, freedom, fulfillment, and unique benefits. With a bright job outlook and more demand for skilled barbers than ever before, the industry is in dire need of ambitious, talented individuals interested in a challenging yet fulfilling barber career.
From close to home to far away, there’s a barber shop out there for you, so pick one out and get ready for an exciting tomorrow today!