Barbering Careers

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The word barber has traditionally been associated exclusively with someone who cuts or trims men’s hair and beards so many barbers today have begun to use the term hairstylist to attract female clients as well.  Barbers are trained and licensed to provide many services to both men and women, including styling and coloring, shaving, hair and scalp treatments, facial massages and waxing.

The preparation to achieve the barbering license includes formal training as well as supervised practical hours to gain experience before the license is granted. Individuals  must attend a vocational or technical school or junior college and receive either a certificate or an associate’s degree in barbering. They must complete numerous hours of hands-on training and pass a state licensing exam before they can begin working.


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Join a Barbering Association

After receiving a license, it is recommended that you join a state or national organization to further your professional development.  The two most common nationally recognized associations are The National Association of Barber Boards of America and the Barbers International.  In addition, many states have organizations exclusively for barbers.

Opportunities for Advanced Barbers

As barbers become more noticed in the field, many will choose to take part in national and international competitions.  This allows them to showcase their talent to some of the top names in the industry which ultimately will increase their exposure.  Some of the top competitions for barbers include Xotic Hair Battle Tour, Wahl National Cutting Competition, the Barber’s Battle and the Super Barber Cutting Competition presented by Major League Barber.

What is the working environment like?

Barbers, like cosmetologists and hairdressers, provide hair care and other appearance-enhancing services to clients such as facial shaving services and fitting hairpieces.  The licensing requirements vary from state to state, but the services covered by the license normally include coloring, bleaching and highlighting hair as well as providing permanent wave services.

They are responsible for keeping their work area clean and organized and their tools sanitized before use with each client. Those that manage salons or barbershops also handle receiving payments and other management responsibilities.

Barbers can be employees of a particular salon or self-employed, independent contractors that rent a chair in a barbershop.  In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost half of all barbers and other hairstylists were self-employed in 2010. When a barber rents a chair in a barbershop or salon, he is allowed to work in that station on set days or hours and pays a set fee to the owner of the shop. The owner, however, does not have to provide perks such as health insurance for the barber.

Aside from salons and barbershops, professional barbers are increasingly finding  job opportunities at day spas, hotels and resorts.  These services are often times offered as a an additional bonus for clients.

Barbers spend most of their day cutting and styling hair in a fast paced environment where often times people are coming and going constantly. In a typical day, barbers will usually have at least one client who needs more in-depth work, such as hair coloring or a special style.

How many hours should I expect to work as a barber?

The majority of barbers work full time and some work overtime while others work as little as 10-20 hours a week.  Barbering is a very flexible profession that allows many barbs to be able to set their own hours. Salon owners may or may not work long hours, depending on the nature of the business.

What skills are most beneficial to be a successful barber?

Barbers spend most of the day working with their hands so good hand-eye coordination is a must. On top of that, barbers must also have excellent fine motor control and an ability to deal with people.  Other skills that are beneficial include creativity, time-management, customer-service and great listening abilities.

What other career opportunities are there?

As the male hair care industry has become more popular in the past five  year, with establishments increasing by 5.5 percent, barbering programs have taken off.  Barbering though is only one of many career prospects in the personal care field. Other closely related career fields include cosmetologyhairdressingskincare specialistsmasseuses and manicurists.

All of these professions require a certificate or an associate’s degree and a license from the state.

What is a traditional barbers salary?

According to the BLS, the median hourly wage for barbers in 2012 was $13.17 per hour but barbers have the potential to make more.  Skilled barbers or those who own their own shops may make many times the median. Barbers also receive tips from many of their clients. The salary potential for barbers also varies depending on place to place This is slightly higher than for other professions in the field, such as shampooers, cosmetologists and hairstylists, for which the hourly wage listed overall is $10.22 per hour or $22,500 yearly.  It’s important to remember that most of the professionals in the field work independently and set their own hours, which means their salary also varies depending on the schedule they work. The busiest days and times for salons and barbershops are the evenings and the weekends.

Job growth for the barbering industry between 2010 and 2020 is anticipated to increase about seven percent. Job opportunities are expected to be good as barbers are needed to replace those that retire, choose to leave the profession or move away to other states. The higher paying positions at more exclusive salons and spas do require more experience and training so prospective employees need to expect more competition for these positions.

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