If you want to know how long it takes to become a barber, you’ll want to look at all the necessary steps. The short answer is about two or three years. However, there’s more to answering this question than just providing a simple number.
If you want to become a barber, you have to meet the minimum age requirement of 16. You will also need to have a high school diploma or GED. Once you’ve met these simple requirements, you still need to graduate from barber school.
It will take you around two or three years to become a licensed barber. Those planning to work for themselves may also want to take business classes at a community college. But, first, let’s look at the steps it takes to become a barber.
Necessary Steps to Become a Barber
Step #1 – Complete High School
As stated above, you need to complete high school or get your GED to become a barber. This is necessary to get into barber school. While in high school, if you can get a job as a receptionist or another type of worker in a barbershop, it can be helpful.
Step #2 – Attend Barber School or Cosmetology School
You have two basic options for schooling: Barber School or Cosmetology School.
A barber school program will provide lessons for cutting men’s hair. You will gain hands-on experience in cutting, styling, and treating hair. This type of program will also teach you facial shaving and beard trimming. You will learn scalp treatments and men’s skincare in some of these schools, as well.
If you choose a Cosmetology school, you will learn men’s haircutting and styling, along with general hair coloring. This curriculum will also teach you many other skills outside of must cutting men’s hair and handling grooming. In addition, you will have the opportunity to learn advanced skincare and learn some of the styling used on women’s hair.
Many barber school programs will teach you how to manage a barbershop, as well. On the other hand, a cosmetology program can teach you some business practices and laws, too.
Barber school will take about a year if you attend full time. Cosmetology school will take up to two years, depending on the programs you choose.
Step #3 – Complete On-The-Job Training
Often referred to as an apprenticeship, you will need to complete on-the-job training to become a barber. This is the bulk of the time you will spend working before you can become a licensed barber.
Barber training programs will last about 1,500 hours. This can be completed in addition, you if you work full-time, in one year. In many cases, you can work on your apprenticeship while attending barber school.
Some states will actually allow you to become certified as a barber before you finish your apprenticeship. This allows you to earn while you train. It’s common to work as an apprentice for about two years and earn an income close to minimum wage while training.
Step #4 – Pass the Licensing Test
You cannot become a licensed barber without passing the test. Each state is a little bit different. However, the exam will likely cover the following topics:
- Client Physiology
- Skin Treatment
- Business Ethics
Along with the written test, you will need to demonstrate certain hairstyling skills, such as shaving facial hair, trimming, washing, and blow-drying.
Once you have received your license, you’ll be considered a barber. Now, you can open your own barbershop or work for a barbershop.
If you decide to move to a new state, you might not need to retake the licensing exam. However, not all states have a reciprocal arrangement. Make sure you understand what will be necessary if you decide to move.
Keeping Your License Up-to-Date
You will need to complete continuing education courses each year to keep your license up-to-date. Many of these courses can be completed online. A small fee will also be necessary when renewing your license.
In most states, if you let your license go inactive for three or more years, you will have to retake the original exam.
Skills for Barbers
As a barber, you will need specific skills to become successful. During your schooling and training, you will learn the necessary grooming skills. However, you should already have some of the other skills, such as:
- Communication – Good communication skills are necessary as you will work one-on-one with clients
- Stamina – Barbers tend to spend quite a bit of time on their feet
- Dexterity – You will be working with your hands, so good coordination and a steady hand are necessary
- Time Management – Barbers need to manage their schedules well, so clients are not left waiting
- Customer Service – Providing excellent customer service is necessary if you want to become a successful barber
With these skills and the technical skills you will learn in school, you can become a successful barber.
Job Duties of a Barber
If you decide you want to work as a barber, you will have certain job duties, including:
- Working with clients to figure out what type of style they prefer
- Providing a trim or cut for clients, including facial hair
- Washing the hair of a client with shampoo and conditioner
- Applying hair treatments
- Styling hair and providing advice
- Cleaning the area around your workstation
- Keeping combs, razors, scissors, and other tools clean and organized
- Training apprentices
Some barbers will also provide face, neck, and scalp massages. With the proper training, you can also provide other services, such as skincare and facials.
Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Barber
How much can I make as a barber?
Barbers tend to be rather well-paid, and many work for themselves. The average salary for a barber is around $43K per year. In some locations, barbers make quite a bit more, however.
What type of benefits do barbers typically get?
You will likely enjoy a flexible schedule, health insurance, and paid time off if you work for an employer. It’s also common for barbers to gain access to a 401(k).
What is the cost of attending barber school?
The cost of a barber school or cosmetology school will depend on the school. It can range from about $2,000 to $11,000. Usually, in-state students will gain access to lower rates.
Along with the schooling, you will need to buy equipment and supplies. There will also be license application fees. If you take a program through an accredited barber school, you may be eligible for financial assistance.
Which associations should a barber join?
There are two main associations to consider if you’re a barber:
You may also find associations locally or on the state level to join.
What type of hours do barbers keep?
While most barbers may have access to a flexible schedule, they will likely work full time if they work for an employer. There are some part-time jobs in the market, but most barbers work a full-time schedule. Some barbers may even work overtime if they have a large client list.
Can I work as a barber without a license?
No. It is illegal to work as a barber if you don’t have the proper license. You may pay a fine of $500 to $1,000, depending on your state, if you’re caught working as a barber without a license.
What type of tools will I need to become a barber?
When you start training or going to school to become a barber, you will need some tools. The most common tools you need include:
- Professional clippers
- Water spray bottle
Keep in mind; you will use these items much more often than someone at home. Therefore, make sure you get high-quality products so they will last throughout your training.
What are the common career options for a barber?
After you’ve completed training to become a barber, you will likely work as a barber or as a hairstylist. You may work for someone else or open your own barbershop.
Barbers can also gain the necessary training to work as cosmetologists, skincare specialists, and even massage therapists.
Can I become a barber without going to school?
In some states, you can complete an apprenticeship to become a barber. This usually means you will need to complete 2,500 hours of training instead of just 1,500. However, some states require you to complete school and an apprenticeship.