Barbering License and Credential Information

Aspiring barbers must meet a number of requirements in order to earn licensure. Many of these requirements vary by state, and states will test you on the various safety procedures involved with the barbering profession. Find out what requirements need to be met nationally and at the state level.

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Aspiring barbers need to complete state-approved training programs and pass a licensure exam in order to work. Over time, they must continually update their licenses.

How Can Aspiring Barbers Prepare for Licensure?

Qualifications for licensure vary by state, but most states require barbers to be at least 16 years old, hold a high school diploma or its equivalent. From there, they must graduate from a state-licensed barbering or cosmetology school. Program content may vary according to state requirements, but they generally consist of a mixture of academic coursework and hands-on training. Usually, they last between 9 months and one year. Specific courses may cover some of the following topics:

  • Barbering theory
  • Shampooing
  • Haircutting
  • Facial hair care
  • Hair styling
  • Artificial hair
  • Safety and first aid
  • Decontamination and infection control
  • Customer service

What Is the Licensure Exam Like?

Licensure exams are state-specific, but they typically test the aspiring barber's knowledge of the content included in certificate programs. These exams consist of a written component and a hands-on component. The hands-on portion requires applicants to demonstrate their ability to perform certain tasks, such as using hones and strops. Hands-on portions of the state exam may also test an aspiring barber's styling skills. It is important to note that barbers must pay a fee when requesting an application for licensure.

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What About License Renewal?

All barbers need to renew their licenses. Most states require barbers to renew their licenses every two years. Failure to do so can result in a number of penalties, especially if a barber continues to practice without renewing his or her license. Penalties can include fines or suspension of practice. If the unlicensed barber doesn't continue to practice, all he or she would need to do is pay renewal and reinstatement fees before beginning to work again. If the barber waits too long to renew the license, he or she may have to repeat the initial licensure process all over again - this time taking the current barber licensing exam for their state.

In order to renew their licenses, barbers must fulfill state-determined continuing education requirements. Many continuing courses cover health and safety-related topics, such as HIV/AIDs and sanitation procedures. Some states allow barbers to renew their licenses online.

Does Barber Licensure Transfer Between States?

Some states grant barbers reciprocity. Reciprocity simply means that barbers can obtain licensure in other states without completing additional training. But before attempting to work in another state, barbers should consult that state's rules and regulations, in case they do need training in addition to what they received initially.

What Can Barbers Do With Their Licenses?

Barbers are licensed to cut, trim, style and shampoo hair - traditionally for male customers. Barbers will also sometimes shave facial hair. Other services barbers provide include scalp treatments, hairpiece fittings, bleaching, highlighting and dyeing. In some states, barbers might even be licensed to provide skin and nail treatments.

In order to become a barber, it is necessary to fulfill state training and licensure requirements. To continue in the job, periodic license renewal is necessary.

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