HOW TO BECOME A BARBER
Becoming a barber – is it the right choice for you?
While a good barber can make a complicated job look easy, not everyone has what it takes to cut hair for a living. Being a barber requires a high level of commitment. Not only are you required to complete extensive training and register with your state cosmetology board, but you must also have the patience to work long hours while standing on your feet – and becoming a truly successful barber could take years of honing your craft and developing a clientele.
Ways to determine whether or not hair cutting is the right career choice for you:
Shadow a professional barber for a week
- See what the day-to-day process is really like. You might discover that it’s not what you had in mind, or it might be ever better than you expected.
Evaluate your personality type
- Being a barber is a highly social job and your success will depend on your ability to win people over. If the customer in your chair wants to chat, you’d better be ready to deliver authentic and engaging conversation.
Determine your level of creative awareness
- When a client comes to you and says, “I want to look good but I can’t decide on a style,” you should be able to suggest one quickly and persuasively. This ability requires a strong understanding of artistic expression, creative design and current fashion trends.
If you think you’ve got what it takes and decide to move forward with your plans to become a barber, you can take comfort in knowing that you’ll be in good company. Whether you’re renting a booth at someone else’s shop or opening up your own business, being a barber is an incredibly rewarding career that offers independence as well as financial security. Your skills as a barber will follow you wherever you go, and a loyal clientele will ensure a steady income.
What you’ll earn
In 2010, the median base salary for barbers in the United States was $27,977 a year. In addition to this base salary was nearly $13,000 in benefits including social security, 401k, healthcare, disability, pension, and time off (http://swz.salary.com/SalaryWizard/Barber-Salary-Details.aspx).
Choosing a barber school
Choosing a good school will be one of the most important steps in starting your career as a barber. Not only will this education prepare you for the state required exam, but it will also provide you with a foundation of business and barbershop principles that will support you throughout your entire career.
Associate of arts degree options:
Some barber schools will offer an Associate of Arts degree, while others will result in a certificate of completion. And whether you decide to go for a degree or a certificate, make sure you choose a school program that focuses on at least a few of the following areas.
- If you ever decide to open a barbershop of your own you’ll be prepared to hit the ground running.
- Successful communication is key when it comes to winning loyal clients and staying on good terms with your booth-neighbor.
Sales and marketing
- Every barber is essentially a freelance contractor, so you can only benefit from knowing how to sell yourself to your target market.
- When you’re done cutting hair at the end of the day, you’re pocket or cash register will hopefully be filled with money. Don’t let the process of paying your commission, separating your tips and recording your earnings get in the way of enjoying the payout.
- Developing a strong understanding of fashion will give you a competitive edge when competing with other barbers for clients.
Getting your license
Before getting set up in a barbershop and accepting your first clients, you’ll have to apply for a license from your state’s cosmetology board. Almost all cosmetology boards in the U.S. require you to take an examination before they will issue your license, and to be eligible for this exam you generally must posses a high school diploma, GED or proof of specialized training.
Taking the exam
Depending on what state you apply for your license in, this examination may include one or all of the following:
- Administered online or at specific test-taking facilities, written exams and will test your knowledge of everything from cleaning procedures to state laws.
- Conducted by a state board examiner, oral exams are designed to gauge your understanding of various barber-related subjects.
- The practical exam requires you to prove your skills as a barber on a live model or a cosmetology mannequin. Rather than judging the creative content of your work, examiners will be evaluating your execution of various procedures as well as your attention to safety and sanitation guidelines.
To learn more about your state’s cosmetology board or which school is right for you, check out the “Becoming a Barber Resources” located at the bottom of this article.
Start working and advance your career opportunities
Once you’ve made it through schooling and have completed your state examination, you’ll be ready to start applying for your own booth at a barbershop or even opening up your own business. Applying for a booth might involve a one or two day working interview during which your abilities will be evaluated, while opening your own barbershop will require researching potential locations for your storefront, writing a business plan and hiring well-qualified staff.As you perfect your skills and establish a healthy clientele, keep looking for ways to take your career in different directions. Many barbers move into management positions, become sales reps or even work as examiners on the state board. As a barber, you’ll have the power to move your career in any direction you want. And before you know it you’ll be a master – cutting hair with one hand and greeting customers with the other, all the while assessing their desire to engage in conversation. You will embody the essence of what it means to be a barber: flawless skills and happy customers.
Becoming a barber resources:
Top five barber schools in America:
Cosmetology boards listed by state:
Montgomery, AL 36130
MINNESOTA Board of Barbers and Cosmetology Examiners
2829 University Avenue SE Suite 710
Minneapolis, MN 55414
MISSOURI Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners
3605 Missouri Boulevard P.O. Box 1062 Jefferson City, MO 65102-1062
State Board of Cosmetology
1721 E. Broadway Rd.
Tempe, AZ 85282-1611
MONTANA Department of Labor and Industry
Board of Cosmetologists
301 South Park
P.O. Box 200513
Helena, MT 59620-0513
ARKANSAS State Board of Cosmetology
101 F. Capital, Ste. 108
Little Rock, AR 72201
NEBRASKA Dept. of Health & Human Services Regulation & Licensure Credentialing Division P.O. Box 94986 Lincoln, NE 68509 5007 402/471-2117
CALIFORNIA Barbering & Cosmetology Program P.O. Box 944226 Sacramento, CA 94244-2260 800-952-5210 Fax 916-445-8893
NEW HAMPSHIREState Board of Barbering, Cosmetology and Esthetics
2 Industrial Park Dr.
Concord, NH 03301
1560 Broadway, #1340
Denver, CO 80202
NEW JERSEY Board of Cosmetology & Hairstyling
P.O. Pox 45003
Newark, NJ 07101
410 Capitol Ave., MS #12 APP
P.O. Box 340308
Hartford, CT 06134
NEW MEXICO Board of Barbers & Cosmetologists P.O. Box 25101 Santa Fe, NM 87504 505-476-4690
Board of Barbering & Cosmetology
1100 4th Street, SW Suite 500E
Washington, DC 20024 (202) 442-4320
NEW YORK Dept. of State Division of Licensing Services 84 Holland Ave. Albany, NY 12208-3490 518/474-4429
DELAWARE Board of Cosmetology &Barbering Canon Building, #203
P.O. Box 1401
Dover, DE 19903
NORTH CAROLINA Board of Cosmetology 1201 Front St #110 Raleigh, NC 27609-7533919-733-4117
FLORIDA Dept. of Business & Professional Regulation 1940 N. Monroe St. Tallahassee, FL 32399 850-487-1395
1102 S. Washington St.
Bismarck, ND 58504
GEORGIA State Board of Cosmetology 237 Coliseum Drive Macon, GA 31217 478-207-1430
OHIO State Board of Cosmetology
1929 Gateway Circle
Grove City, OH 43123
HAWAII Dept. of Commerce & Consumer Affairs Board of Cosmetology
1010 Richards St.
P.O. Box 3469
Honolulu, HI 96801
Oklahoma State Board of Cosmetology2401 Northwest 23rd Street
Oklahoma City OK 73107 -2431
(208) 334-3945 fax
OREGON Board of Barbers & HairdressersHealth Division
700 Summer St. N.E., #320
Salem, OR 97310
3 Capitol Hill
Providence, RI 02908-5097
SOUTH CAROLINA Board of Cosmetology P.O. Box 11329 Columbia, SC 29211 803/896-4494
KANSAS State Board of Cosmetology 714 S.W. Jackson Topeka, KS 66617-1139 785-296-3155
SOUTH DAKOTA Cosmetology Commission500 E. Capitol
Pierre, SD 57501
KENTUCKY State Board of Hairdressers & Cosmetologists111 St. James Court
Frankfort, Kentucky, 40601
Phone: 502- 564-4262.
LOUISIANA State Board of Cosmetology11622 Sunbelt Ct.
Baton Rouge, LA 70809
TEXAS Department of Licensing and RegulationP.O. Box 26700 Austin, TX 78755-0700 1-800-943-8922 or 512-380-7600
MAINE State Board of Barbering & Cosmetology State House Sta. 35 Augusta, ME 04333 207/624-8603 207-624-8637
UTAH Division of Occupational & Professional LicensingBoard of Cosmetology
160 East, 300 South
P.O. Box 45805
Salt Lake City, UT 84145-0805
MARYLAND State Board of Cosmetologists 500 N. Calvert Street Room 307 Baltimore, Maryland 21202-3651 (410) 230-6320
VERMONT Board of Barbers and Cosmetologists26 Terrace Street
Montpelier, VT 05609-1106
Division of Professional Licensure
1000 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02118
VIRGINIA Dept. of Professional Occupation & Regulation Board of Cosmetology 3600W. Broad St. Richmond, VA 23230 804/367-8509 Fax: 804-367-2475
WASHINGTON Dept. of Licensing Professional Licensing Services Cosmetology Section 405 Blacklake Blvd. P.O. Box 9026 Olympia, WA 98507-9026 (360) 664-6626
WEST VIRGINIA Board of Barbers & Cosmetologists 1201 Dunbar Avenue Dunbar WV 25064 Ph.(304) 558-2924
WISCONSIN Dept. of Regulations & Licensing
Barbering & Cosmetology Examining Board
P.O. Box 8935
Madison, WI 53708
WYOMING Board of Cosmetology 2515 Warren Ave., Ste. 302 Cheyenne, WY 82002 307/777-3534