Barber School: Information on Becoming a Barber or Hairdresser

Mar 09, 2020

Research the requirements to become a barber or hairdresser. Learn about the job duties and read the step-by-step process to start a career in these fields.

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Becoming a Barber or Hairdresser?

Barbers and hairdressers are responsible for cutting hair and providing styling services to customers. Barbers and hairdressers have similar tasks, since they both are involved with cutting, styling, and caring for hair. However, barbers generally work with male clients, while hairdressers have male and female clients. Long hours spent standing should be expected, and these workers may need to protect their skin from repeated exposure to chemicals. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a median annual salary of $24,730 for hairdressers and hair stylists in May 2018.

Career Requirements

Degree Level No degree is required; some positions require a high school diploma
Degree Field Barbering or cosmetology
Experience Entry-level; licensure requires a minimum number of training hours
Licensure and Certification State license (requirements vary by state)
Key Skills Excellent customer service skills, creativity, knowledge of hairdressing equipment and hair styles, ability to stand for long periods of time

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Steps

Let's take a look at the steps to become a barber or hairdresser.

Step 1: Complete the Required Training

Licensing qualifications for barbers and cosmetologists vary by state. Some states require a high school diploma and successful completion of a state-approved program. Cosmetology and barber certificate and associate's degree programs offer technical studies in the classroom, hands-on training, and the necessary work hours to pursue licensure. Topics commonly covered in these programs include skin care, hair styling, sanitation, and hair cutting.

For some states, aspiring barbers and cosmetologists can work as apprentices to meet the requirements for licensure. Under the supervision of a licensed cosmetologist or barber, students will train to become professionals and prepare for the licensure examination.

Success Tips:

  • Check with the state. Make sure that the school you choose is approved by the state before beginning your education. Only state-approved schools count towards your licensure.
  • Work as an intern. Certificate or degree programs may offer their students internships. Internships can help earn on-the-job training and learn how to properly run a business.
  • Learn the tools of the trade. While working as an apprentice, be sure to master the barbering tools. This includes shears, clippers, and buzzers. You will be tested on these tools during your licensure examination.

Step 2: Earn a License

All barbers and hairdressers must be licensed by their state in order to work. Upon completing a state-approved program or apprenticeship, students are eligible to take the state licensing exam, which consists of a written exam and sometimes a practical or oral exam.

Success Tip:

  • Bring all the right equipment. You must bring your own equipment to the practical examination, and there are strict rules as to what is allowed and how they are to be transported. Be sure to check with the state prior to taking the exam.

Step 3: Complete Advanced Training

For professionals who are already licensed, there are continuing education classes in advanced topics like hair coloring, hair styling, or matching hair styles to makeup. Having these skills will help you move into upscale work and distinguish you as a professional who cares for the customer's overall appearance.

To become a barber or hairdresser, you need to be licensed by the state, which requires some training as regulated by the state.

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