Barber Career Options and Employment Outlook

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a barber. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

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A barber's job is to cut and style hair, usually for males, though there are several other options to choose from. Formal training and licensure is mandatory, and while job growth for this profession are a little higher than average, salary is below average for all occupations.

Essential Information

Barbers typically work with male clients, trimming, shampooing and styling their hair. Some barbers also provide skin care treatments and hair coloring services. All states require barbers to complete an approved training program and pass a licensing exam. Barbers can work in traditional barbershops or in many other places, including barbering schools and retirement communities.

Required Education Completion of a state-approved training program
Licensing State licensing required
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 10%
Mean Annual Salary (2015)* $29,140

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career Options for Barbers

When most people think of a barber, they think of someone who snips and clips hair at a shop with a striped pole out front. While many barbers still work in traditional barbershops, a new variety of career options and opportunities has become available. Barbers can work for themselves, find careers in the personal care industry or teach in barber training programs.

Self-Employed Barbers

Many barbers work on a self-employed basis, either in their own barbershops or in spaces they have leased in businesses such as salons, hotels and spas. Barbers who lease typically supply their own personal care products and tools and pay a fee or rent to the business' owner. Self-employed barbers usually have to manage their own taxes and provide their own benefits, such as insurance and retirement plans.

Personal Care Services

Barbers often find jobs in the personal care industry working in a variety of locations, such as established barbershops, resorts and cruise ships. Nursing homes and retirement communities often hire barbers to provide services for their residents. Barbers are frequently employed by government agencies to provide haircuts at military bases and public institutions, such as hospitals or prisons.

Educational Instructors

Since many states require prospective barbers to attend training programs before they can obtain a license, there is a need for barber instructors. Many schools hire experienced licensed barbers to teach students the skills needed to wash, cut and style hair, mustaches and beards. Potential instructors may need to meet additional licensing requirements to teach.

Employment Outlook Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for barbers were expected to increase by 10% between 2014 and 2024 ( This growth in opportunities was due to an increased demand in personal care services coupled with an increase in the number of barbers retiring or leaving the profession, in addition to the rise in population.

In 2015, the mean hourly wage for barbers was $14.01, including tips, reports the BLS. Barbers who worked for state government earned a higher mean wage of $21.00 an hour, while those working in personal care service earned slightly less than the national hourly mean at $13.87.

As a barber, you may be employed in a variety of establishments. This occupation calls for the completion of a barber program, after which you can pursue the necessary licensure. Job growth is faster than average, but salary is below average.

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