Becoming a Barber: Job Description & Salary Info

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What are the pros and cons of a career as a barber? Get real job descriptions, career prospects and salary info to see if becoming a barber is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Barber Career

If you are interested in helping people look their best by cutting and styling hair then you should consider becoming a barber. If you would like to become a barber, continue reading to learn about some of the pros and cons associated with this career.

Pros of Being a Barber
Self-employment opportunities*
Exercise your creativity and aesthetic sensibilities*
Interact with customers*
Work in pleasant environment*

Cons of Being a Barber
Stiff competition for high-end jobs*
Have to work evenings and weekends*
Spend a lot of time standing*
Must earn and maintain proper licensure*

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

Essential Career Information

Job Description and Duties

Barbers work primarily with male clients, cutting and styling their hair. They may also offer facial shaving and fit hairpieces for clients. As a barber, you will customize haircuts in accordance with the needs of their clients and make recommendations that are based on the color, shape and texture of a client's hair. In order to perform their job duties, barbers use a variety of tools including scissors, clippers and combs. Barbers who are self-employed or work in small businesses may also have to handle various business duties such as supervising, hiring, handling payment, keeping inventory records, advertising and ordering supplies.

Job Growth and Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that in May 2014 the mean annual wage of a barber was about $28,430, and the mean hourly wage was about $13.67 ( The BLS projects that from 2012 and 2022, the employment of barbers will grow by 11%, about as fast as average among all occupations.

Education and Licensure Requirements

Barbers must graduate from a barbering program; this is a full-time program that often lasts at least nine months. All states require barbers to be licensed; exact licensure requirements vary by state. Typically, candidates for licensure must be at least 16 years of age, have graduated from a state-approved program and pass a licensing examination. These examinations include a written component, oral examination and test that measures practical styling skills. In many locations, a barbering license may be credited toward a cosmetology license, and a few states combine barbering and cosmetology credentials. Barbers must periodically renew their licenses in order to maintain them. In general, the following skills, achievements and talents are needed in order to become a barber:

  • State licensure
  • Formal training through a barbering program
  • Creativity and the ability to adapt to the needs of individual clients
  • The ability to stand for long periods of time
  • The interpersonal skills necessary to interact with customers

Job Postings from Real Employers

Employers from both small and large businesses are seeking licensed and professionally trained barbers. Many employers expect candidates to be skilled and have excellent communication skills. Some may expect workers to advertise services and sell products. To get a better sense of the kinds of jobs available to barbers, see the following examples of job postings from April 2012:

  • A barber shop in California was seeking a full-time barber, and candidates were expected to hold a valid barber license, have at least two years of barbering experience and willingness to work a flexible schedule. This employer also expected candidates to have strong promotional skills and a willingness to sell specific products.
  • A New York barber shop was looking to hire a full-time barber. Candidates must be licensed and adept to working with children. This employer was willing to hire barbers with less than one year of work experience.
  • A salon in South Carolina was seeking an experienced barber for full-time work. This employer did not specify any special requirements beyond some degree of work experience.
  • A large company in Kansas was seeking to hire barbers for both part-time and full-time work. This employer required candidates to hold a Kansas barber license and offered professional paid training, paid vacations and opportunities for advancement.

How to Stand Out in the Field

There are a number of ways to stand out in this field. By maintaining friendly business relationships with customers and providing exemplary service, you can attract and sustain clientele. It is also important to keep up with the latest trends in hair styles. Customers may also be attracted to barbers who are well-organized and maintain clean and professional work environments.

Alternative Career Paths

Skincare Specialist

If you enjoy enhancing the appearance of customers, then you may wish to become a skincare specialist. Skincare specialists determine the best types of skin treatments, procedures and products that will enhance the appearance of their client; this may include masks, scrubs and peels. They may also actively sell skincare products such as creams, lotions and cleansers. Skincare specialists need to complete an approved cosmetology program and earn state licensure; exact licensing requirements vary by state. According to the BLS, in May 2011, the mean annual wage for skincare specialists was around $32,000 and the mean hourly wage was just over $15.00. Between 2010 and 2020, employment is expected to rise by 25%.

Manicurist and Pedicurist

Another career option is to work as a manicurist and pedicurist. These cosmetology professionals polish, clean, trim, buff and paint nails. They give clients advice about nail care, discuss nail services and treatments and promote nail care products. To become a manicurist and pedicurist, you must complete a state-approved cosmetology program and pass a state examination for licensure. The BLS reports that the mean annual wage for manicurists and pedicurists in 2011 was almost $22,000 and the mean hourly wage was over $10.00. From 2010 to 2020, job growth in this field is expected to rise by 17%.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Penn Foster High School

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Featured Schools

Penn Foster High School

  • HS Diploma

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World A Cuts Barber Institute

Winston Salem Barber School

Westside Tech

West Michigan College of Barbering and Beauty

West Georgia Technical College

Washington Barber College Inc

Vogue Beauty and Barber School