A barber is a professional whose job it is to give men haircuts and shave their faces. Barbers are important for ensuring that their male customers can look their best and feel confident in themselves. If you’re considering becoming a barber, it may help you to know a little more about this profession. Here are some examples of commonly asked questions about what kind of education does a barber need:
- What does a barber do?
- Why are barbers important?
- What are the educational requirements for a barber?
- What is the job outlook for a barber?
Cosmetology certificate or license
Before you start cutting hair, you’ll need to get a license. In the United States and Canada, barbers need to obtain a cosmetology certificate or license before they can practice. This typically requires completing state-specified training hours, passing a written and practical exam, and paying a fee for the license.
Training requirements vary by state, but are usually around 1,500 training hours (about 12 months). However, remember that some states have different licensing requirements for barbers than for cosmetologists. In these states it will take more time to become licensed as a barber than as a cosmetologist because many of the required classes may be different than those covered in your barber school program.
If you’re looking to become a barber, and have already completed your high school diploma or GED, it’s time to consider an apprenticeship. An apprenticeship is a program that allows new barbers to gain practical experience in the field. This on-the-job training helps you learn all of the skills that you need to be successful at cutting hair. During an apprenticeship, you will receive one-on-one guidance from another barber. You will also have the opportunity to practice your skills on real clients under their supervision.
As with anything, getting into an apprenticeship is easier said than done. However, there are a few ways to make it happen:
- Seek out potential mentors in your area and talk to them about setting up an apprenticeship
- Make sure that you do your homework; even if someone agrees to take you as their apprentice, they may expect something from you in return
- Communicate with other people who are interested in becoming barbers (for example by joining relevant forums or Facebook groups) and see if anyone else has had success finding a mentor
If you’re thinking about going directly into college instead of taking part in an apprenticeship first, keep these things in mind: While most states require that prospective barbers complete at least 1 year of formal training before receiving their license as professional cosmetologists or hairdressers (which include being able to cut men's hair), this same education requirement usually applies only when enrolling full time at cosmetology schools—not while going through an approved mentorship program where they learn on the job with guidance from another experienced stylist/barber (i.e., “apprentice").
In order to practice barbering professionally, barbers must be licensed by the state. To receive a license, aspiring barbers must complete a certain number of credit hours at an approved program and pass an examination. The requirements vary by state, but usually include around 1,500 classroom hours (that's about nine months). After graduating from formal training, students must pass written and practical exams that cover both theory and hands-on techniques.
As you can imagine, there are fees associated with getting and maintaining your barber license. Typically these costs include the application fee, exam fee(s), annual renewal (if required), and administrative fees. This can range anywhere from $50 to $1,000 depending on where you live and how long it takes you to pass your exams.
After receiving your state's seal of approval as a licensed barber—yay!—you'll need to maintain this status through regular renewals. These requirements vary significantly across states; some require renewal every year or two while others only require it once every six years or longer. Additionally, some states do not require continuing education for renewal while others do (this is common for licenses that are renewed less frequently). In most cases where continuing education is required for renewal, there is also a limit on how many hours may be obtained online (i.e., Colorado requires 20 hours of continuing education but only allows 5 hours of those to come from online sources).
If you decide to become a barber, it's important to know how to maintain your license once you have it. Every two years after becoming licensed, barbers must complete a number of hours of continuing education (CE). State requirements vary: some states require 10 hours, others 12. You can complete CE by taking individual courses or by attending seminars.
In the United States, Barbers must be licensed.
Barbering is licensed in the United States, and this means that you will be required to be licensed in order to practice. There are some exceptions - if you work on a cruise ship or in a foreign country, for example. But by and large, you must be licensed.
And the requirements vary by state. So it’s important to take a look at what your particular state requires before beginning your education, so that you can find a school that has these training components built into their program.