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Barbers: Education Requirements and Career Information

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 certification standards to find out if this is the career for you.

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If you like working with people and hair, a career as a barber may be right for you. Barbers cut and style hair at barber shops and salons. They may also be trained in hair coloring and cosmetology.

Essential Information

Barbers must often complete an accredited training program offered through a barber or cosmetology school to be eligible for state licensure; however, some states will accept completion of an apprenticeship or military vocational training in lieu of formal training. Barbers provide grooming services to men and women, including hair cutting, styling and coloring.

Required Education High school diploma or GED
Other Requirements Completion of accredited barber training program
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 10%*
Median Salary (2015) $24,850*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Educational Requirements for Barbers

In most states, educational requirements for barbers include a high school diploma or GED and completion of an accredited barber training program, such as the National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences (NACCAS). Training programs are offered through cosmetology or barber schools and often take between nine months and two years to complete, depending on whether students choose full- or part-time programs. Completion of a barber training program may lead to a diploma, technical certificate or associate degree.

Most state licensing boards require that barber training programs consist of a specified number of hours (often ranging from 1,500-1,800) of classroom instruction and practical training. In some states, the completion of a cosmetology program may also fulfill barber training requirements with the help of a barber crossover training course. Many states also require licensed barbers to attend continuing education courses for license renewal.

Educational Curriculum

Barber school curriculum covers such basics as haircutting, hairstyling, shaving and beard trimming. Students are also trained in beard design, hair piece fitting and hair coloring. In addition to learning how to apply chemical treatments, students learn about detecting scalp and hair diseases.

Course topics also include sanitation and safety procedures, an overview of state barber laws and an introduction to basic business practices, such as bookkeeping and merchandising. In addition to classroom instruction, students gain hands-on experience working on mannequins and live models. Some schools also offer student services to paying customers.

Financial Assistance Options for Education Programs

In addition to federal financial assistance programs, barber students may also be eligible for industry-sponsored scholarships and grants. One such award is the Access to Cosmetology Education (ACE) Grant, offered through a partnership of three industry associations, including the American Association of Cosmetology Schools (www.ace-grant.org).

Licensure Requirements

Upon completion of an accredited barber program or approved apprenticeship, many states require aspiring barbers to pass a licensing exam. Applicants must pass a written and oral test which covers procedures of hairstyling and hair cutting, chemical treatments, scalp conditions, sanitation, safety techniques and state laws governing the barber profession. A practical exam may also be required, during which the applicant must cut the hair of a live model. Many states require barber license renewal every two years.

In some states, barber apprentices must also apply for licensure. Applicants must often complete several hours of training at an approved facility and be at least 16 years old prior to becoming a licensed apprentice.

Career Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that employment of barbers will increase by 10% during the 2014-2024 decade (www.bls.gov). Though barbers have traditionally cut hair for men, the expanding selection of services they offer--including hairstyling, hair coloring, straightening and curling--has led to a growing clientele of women.

The barbering profession is also attracting a growing number of women. According to USA Today, approximately half of all barbers were women as of 2004. The BLS reported that in 2015, barbers earned a median of $11.95 per hour, including tips. It was also reported that 44% of all barbers, cosmetologists and other personal appearance workers were self-employed.

Positions as a barber require only a high school diploma. Most states require barbers to be licensed which includes completing training and possibly passing an exam. Apprenticeships may also be available.

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