As an occupation, barbers are easily and commonly found in almost every community in the country. While the employment of professionals in this field is expected to fall by 1% between 2019 and 2029, boys and men will still need to have their hair cut, styled, and groomed regularly. Other reasons for the ongoing need for barbers include the growth of the U.S. population; this leads to a stronger demand for basic hair care services, such as cutting and styling. Barbers are also being asked to straighten and color hair, as well as provide other hair treatments. This trend for relatively steady employment opportunities in this field is likely to continue throughout the next decade.
Barbers interact with other people throughout their working days. This is a switch from someone who works from home or who works in a cubicle, experiencing little interaction from colleagues. The career of a professional barber fits a more social type of person well.
What Programs are Available for Barbering?
Barbering students may choose to attend schools that specialize in cosmetology and barbering. These schools may have multiple campuses, making it easier for students from a wider geographical area to attend, earn their degrees or diplomas, and graduate. While a barbering program may not be housed within a traditional trade school or community college, the schools or academies should still hold some form of accreditation.
At one California school, the curricula has been carefully curated, choosing from the best education and training practices available. Students are trained using a variety of methods of education - written, visual, hands-on, and verbal - as they learn about practical skills in barbering. Such programs should also offer business-oriented entrepreneurial classes that will teach students how to start and own their own businesses, such as a barber shop or salon. In these classes, students learn about client-building, online marketing, and financial management. Once they finish their degree program, they will be ready to take their certification exam, earn their state certification, and enter the job market.
Many barbering programs can be completed in around 1,500 training hours, which is a little more than one year. In this time frame, students learn about state laws and regulations, sanitation, disinfection, health and safety concepts, anatomy, physiology, hair analysis, hair composition, cutting, styling, permanent waving, and chemical straightening. They also learn about shaving, hair bleaching, and hair coloring theory and best practices.
Community colleges also offer barbering degree programs. Students in these programs spend around 1,250 hours learning their new career, after which they will be licensed. The full program can be completed in 10 months for full-time students. Part-time students will finish in 16 months. A technical college offering a barbering program instructs students in the removal of facial hair, scalp treatments, practical hair cutting skills, and chemical texture services.
Other community colleges may offer a Barbering Associate of Applied Science (BAR.AAS). Students learn hair design, how to install temporary hair pieces, chemical treatments, salon operations and, for experienced barbers, a barber license review. Students have to complete a set number of hours to complete the program. However, after completing their program, they are ready to take their licensure exam.
A beauty university may also offer barber programs. these programs include around 1,500 hours of training, which is about 12 months. This may be as many as 37.5 hours of classes weekly for students who attend full-time. For part-time students, the instructional hours are the same, but students graduate after 20+ months, with a schedule that gives them 21.5 to 22.5 hours each week. Some cosmetology university programs also offer an on-campus clinic salon, giving students practical experience in working with clients’ hair.
Students may choose to attend a technical school offering a barbering school diploma. These programs require around 1,200 contact hours. Lecture hours make up 200+ hours of this time while lab hours come in at around 950 altogether. Students may be able to graduate in 12 months.
What Will You Learn in a Barber Program?
In a barbering school program, students should expect to learn about the history of the barber, tools and their uses, hair types, infection control, bacteriology, the physiology and anatomy of the human scalp and hair, how to professionally cut hair, groom facial hair, and about skin care. Students may also learn business management, since some of them may be planning to open their own barbershops. They also need to understand basic business practices, even if they don’t start their own shops. They will learn how to set fees for each service, develop a book of clients, and manage customer relations. Students will most likely take part in hands-on training so that they can practice their newly learned skills. They may also be able to work directly with clients in the student-run salon.
Specific skills they may practice include shampooing clients’ hair, identifying scalp conditions and offering appropriate scalp treatments, and choosing and selling treatments or products that the salon carries. Students in beauty school may also have the option of joining an esthetician program.
Students in a barbering program learn how to shape facial hair for clients with beards and mustaches, then teach their clients how to keep their facial hair shaped and maintained. They also may choose to learn how to give a shave with an old-fashioned straight razor if that is something they are interested in offering their clients. Men also enjoy different hair colors; they also want to cover up those gray hairs. Barbers should know how to properly bleach hair and dye their client’s hair with a new color. Proper sanitation and safety are a must in any barbershop So is good hygiene. Students learn how to maintain good personal hygiene and keep their station, or the shop, sanitized. This may be covered in the exam for a cosmetology license.
This is a key skill as you need to understand what a person expects from their haircut or style. You also need to be able to explain certain terms that may not be familiar to some, especially to younger clients. You should be ready with easy explanations for terms like feathering, layering, highlighting, etc.
Not everyone can have the same hairstyle, but many are looking for the same fashionable look. You'll need to find creative solutions so that your clients and customers can walk away from your chair looking like a contemporary fashionista. As your barbering skills improve, you'll style hair in new and surprising ways.
- Time Management:
You'll need to know how to use time in such a way that you are able to take care of your appointments in a timely fashion.
To be successful on the business end, you'll need to be able to manage your expenses and revenues. If you plan to open your own barbershop, you will need higher level accounting and bookkeeping skills in order to survive and thrive.
- IT Skills:
If you are working as an independent barber or stylist, you should be able to set up your own website with at least a calendar feature. You may also need to set up a payment system so that clients and customers can pay in advance or without needing cash in hand.
- Physical Dexterity and Stamina:
Barbers are on their feet all day long, so they need to be prepared for the wear and tear on their feet, knees, and even hips. Barbers also need be precise when using their scissors, straight razors, and electric clippers. One false move can be the difference between a dynamite haircut and a disaster that must be grown out.
Financing and Scholarships
Students entering a college hoping to start a barbering career need a way to pay for their education. As long as they qualify for financial aid, they will be able to receive grants and/or scholarships, even in these types of programs. The trade school, cosmetology school, or barbering school should be accredited in some way and, therefore, participants in federal student aid; this program is the Title IV Student Aid Program. Students need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to find out if they qualify for financial aid. Speaking with a financial aid representative at the school will get them started. And here are some examples of scholarships available to students looking to complete these types of programs.
Joe Francis Haircare Scholarship Foundation
Out of Joe Francis’ desire to elevate the status of the hair care profession, he was at the front in efforts to break barriers in the barbering industry. His company, The Barbers Hairstyling for Men, enrolled the first female student in its barber school.
Beauty Changes Lives Scholarship
This 501(c)3 awards beauty school scholarships intended to cover the student’s tuition. These scholarships have been funded by beauty brands. In addition, Beauty Changes Lives offers scholarships (advanced) for professionals who are currently licensed.
AHBAI Fred Luster, Sr. Education Foundation Grant in Cosmetology
This scholarship was established in 1991 in honor of Fred Luster, Sr., who founded Luster Products, Inc. in Chicago. As of 2011, this foundation awarded almost $670,000 in scholarships to deserving students. Students should have an 85% or higher grade point average in school.
Choosing a Barbering Programs
Online vs. On-Campus
An on-campus barbering program gives students the chance to learn the theory and science of this career field. Students will learn and practice skin care, haircutting, scalp treatment, and chemical services. They also learn just what being a professional barber means. After they graduate with their certificate or degree, students will be able to fill positions as a barber, platform artist, beauty supply administrator, or as a barber shop owner.
Some barbering programs are offered online only. Students may be required to complete up to 1,000 contact hours or more in which they learn shampooing, trimming, cutting, and how to give shaves and beard trimming techniques, especially those for the most popular styles. They also learn various grooming services, such as hair styling techniques, color treatments, and hair coloring so that they are able to provide the service a client wants.
The thing to keep in mind is that, even with an online barbering program, you can only take the educational courses online. The hands-on training MUST be completed in person so that your educator can evaluate how you work with an actual head of hair or face. Though, of course, most of your work will be done with mannequins or faux heads of hair so that there’s no chance of you injuring someone or completely ruining their hairdo.
Job Placement Assistance
Trade schools, beauty academies, and barbering schools may offer a job placement office with connections and outreach to area barbers and beauty salons. At one school, their placement office operates on a full-time basis, giving support to current students and even graduates who are still seeking work as barbers.
Good job placement offices should know whether the demand for licensed barbers is high or low. In areas all over the U.S., students graduate from their diploma or degree programs ready to start a barber career. They may contact barbershops themselves, letting them know that they are skilled barbers ready to begin employment. Some students and graduates gain access to online job search networks, where they can search for job openings and additional resources.
How long does it take to complete a barbering program?
This depends on the school’s program and where it is located. California requires its barbering students to earn at least 1,500 hours and other states may have their own requirements that determine the length of a program.
How much do these programs cost?
While barbering school is one of a few vocational programs, students will have to pay for their education and training. Tuition runs from $10,000 up to $25,000. This price includes books, kits, supplies, and frocks (jackets). Some schools don’t include supplies in their tuition and it’s an unavoidable fact that the better-known schools are likely to cost more.
Schools participating in the federal financial aid program may be able to offer assistance to students who qualify. Assistance consists of grants, scholarships, or loans (which must be repaid) that can help the student pay for their education and get into the work force fast.
Is there specific accreditation for this field?
Students who want to become barbers should go to a school that holds accreditation. This gives them advantages that students attending unaccredited schools won’t have. The National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences (NACCAS) gives accreditation to schools that have met its requirements.
Students who go to an unaccredited school may suffer from lower-quality instruction. By going to the NACCAS website and clicking on “accredited school,” students are able to find out whether a school has this commission’s accreditation.
Vocational Trade School & Career Paths