Become a Certified Barber: Certification and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a licensed barber. Research the job description and the education and licensing requirements to find out how to start a career in barbering.

Should I Become a Licensed Barber?

Barbers style, cut, and fashion hair of all kinds of different people. They act as consultants regarding hairstyle, products and care. A barber performs other duties such as bleaching, dyeing, shaving and shampooing hair. Many barbers are self-employed, which allows them to keep a flexible work schedule. The job requires barbers to spend entire shifts on their feet and work with harmful chemicals. A barber's busiest time is on the weekends and in the evening.

Barbers must become licensed by the state in which they intend to practice. Earning state licensure as a barber involves the completion of a formal barber education program, which can take about nine months. Aspiring barbers must pass written, oral, and skill portions of their state-licensing exam.

Career Requirements

Education LevelState-approved barber training program
Training Apprenticeships available
LicensureRequired in all states
Key SkillsCreativity, listening, customer service, and time management
Salary (2014)$25,410 per year (Median salary)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Complete Barber Training Program

A barber typically must graduate from a state-licensed barber school. Many programs are administered through for-profit institutions, although nonprofit and public schools also offer barbering training. The length of these programs varies, but they usually take at least nine months to complete. These programs are offered as certificate, diploma or associate's degree programs. Aspiring barbers learn how to style, cut and shave hair. They're taught to properly sanitize and maintain all tools, such as scissors, combs and razors. Additionally, they may receive training in nail and skin treatments.

Success Tip:

  • Participate in an apprenticeship. Some schools offer barber apprenticeships, which combine paid on-the-job experiences with classroom instruction. Apprenticeships are offered through technical colleges and last two years. They give students the necessary experience needed to apply for licensure.

Step 2: Acquire State Licensure

Every state requires that barbers be licensed, and eligibility qualifications vary in each state. Prerequisites include graduating from an approved barber school, meeting a set age requirement, and submitting proof of a high school diploma or GED. Some states may accept an apprenticeship working under a licensed barber in lieu of school training. Others require an apprenticeship in addition to completing a formal course of study. Barbers meeting state requirements must pass an examination for licensure.

The examination consists of multiple parts, including written, oral and skill portions. In order to get a license, a fee must be paid. Barbers need to renew their licenses, and renewal times are different in each state. It's often possible to receive credit for cosmetology training that can be used for earning a license as a barber.

Step 3: Continuing Education for Career Advancement

Continuing education courses in barbering fulfill renewal requirements, and they help barbers stay current about new trends and policies. By understanding modern trends, a barber can meet the hairstyle demands of customers, or make recommendations based on a customer's hair.

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