Become a Certified Barber: Certification and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a licensed barber. Research the job description and the education and licensing requirements to find out how to start a career in barbering.

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Do I Want to Be a Licensed Barber?

Rather than earning certification, barbers must become licensed by the state in which they intend to practice. Barbers style, cut and fashion the hair of customers per their requests. They may act as consultants on hair products and hair care. A barber can also perform other hair duties, such as bleaching, dyeing, shaving and shampooing.

Many barbers are self-employed, which allows them to keep a flexible work schedule. They might be able to own their own barber shop with enough experience. However, this job requires workers to spend entire shifts on their feet and possibly interact with harmful chemicals. Barbers also are usually the busiest on weekends and evenings.

Job Requirements

Earning state licensure as a barber involves the completion of a formal barber education program, which can take about nine months. Aspiring barbers must then pass written, oral and skill portions of their state licensing exam. This table contains requirements for barbers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Common Requirements
Degree Level Completion of a postsecondary, state-approved barber program. Depending on the state, a 10th-grade education or a high school diploma or equivalent.
Degree Field Barbering
Licensure and/or Certification Licensure by exam is required for barbers in all states.
Key Skills Creativity, listening, customer service, and time management
Additional Skills Ability to stand for long stretches of time

Step 1: Complete a Barber Training Program

A barber typically must graduate from a state-licensed barber school. Many programs are administered through for-profit institutions, although non-profit and public schools also offer barbering training. The length of these programs can vary, but they usually take at least nine months to complete. These programs are offered as certificate, diploma or associate degree programs. Aspiring barbers learn how to properly style, cut and shave hair. They train to properly sanitize and maintain all the tools, such as scissors, combs and razors, used in this trade. Additionally, they may be trained in nail and skin treatments.

  • Participate in an apprenticeship. Some schools offer barber apprenticeships, which combine paid on-the-job experiences with classroom instruction. These agreements are typically offered through technical colleges and last two years. This could help prepare individuals in states that require experience before qualifying for licensure.

Step 2: Acquire State Licensure

Every state requires that barbers be licensed, and eligibility requirements vary in each state. Graduating from an approved barber school is generally required. States may set age requirements, require a high school diploma or GED, or both. Some states may accept an apprenticeship working under a licensed barber in lieu of school training. Others require an apprenticeship in addition to completing a formal course of study. Barbers meeting state requirements must pass an examination for licensure.

The examination can consist of multiple parts, including written, oral and skill portions. In order to get a license, a fee is typically required. Barbers may need to renew their licenses. It's often possible to receive credit for cosmetology training that can be used for earning a license as a barber.

  • Take continuing education courses in barbering. Not only can they help fulfill renewal requirements, but they can help barbers learn about new trends and policies. By understanding modern trends, a barber can meet the hairstyle demands of customers or make recommendations based on a customer's hair.
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