How Much Does a Barber Make?
For the uninitiated, it may come as a surprise to learn that a trip to the barbershop is so much more than a trim or cut. The barbershop is a key social hub where men can catch up with friends, talk sports, and unwind. And, of course, nothing beats the feeling of a crisp line up.
For individuals who care about personal grooming and are looking for a workplace with a strong social side, working behind the chair of a barber shop business can be a rewarding way to make a living. In 2021, the average barber salary is $35,700 per year.1
That said, we’ve all seen barbers on social media bragging about six-figure salaries. Below, we’ll break down some of the most common factors that determine a barber’s income and chat strategies to surge your paycheck as a professional barber.
What Affects a Barber’s Pay?
Before you put down your scissors and pull the trigger on that tattoo gun, it’s worth looking at three key elements that influence a professional barber’s take-home pay.
#1: Chair vs. Shop
If you’re just fresh out of barber school and starting out in your hair-cutting journey, you have a few options for breaking into the biz:
- Working as a commissioned employee
- Renting a chair in a shop
Commissioned-based barbering entails being paid out a percentage of any amount earned through your services. Something in the neighborhood of a 60–40 split is typical. In other words, if you make $100 in a day, you’ll take home $60, and the rest will go back to the babrer shop owner to cover supplies and rent.
Chair rental is just that—you rent a chair in an established barber shop and pay the barber shop owner a fee. The beauty of this setup is that once you’ve earned out the rental cost, everything else you make is yours.
Both options have their advantages and disadvantages. In terms of money, though, barbers with an existing client base can potentially make bank renting a chair. For those who are just starting out, working on commission is a safe way to learn the trade as an extension of barber training and establish a network.
#2: Location, Location, Location
According to recent data, almost 4 million men are living in New York City.2 That’s a lot of shape ups to maintain and, in other words, plenty of business for a small army of barbers.
But the answer to the question, How much does a barber make in a major metropolitan area? can vary drastically from other parts of the country. While New York barber shops may enjoy a line out the door on most days, hair care professionals in small towns or the ‘burbs are going to experience less of an influx.
#3 Skill Level
Professionals who have dedicated hours of dedication to their craft by going to barber school or undergoing barber training are more likely to charge higher prices and keep clients coming through their doors. A master barber can also charge more for speciality barber services, like:
- Relaxing hair
- Permanent waves
- Facial massage
Don’t discount the soft skills, either. Attention to detail, the ability to manage your time efficiently, and a warm bedside—er, chairside manner aren’t usually part of the job description. But, they are key when it comes to attracting repeat customers. Additionally, find out how to get a barber license if you haven’t done so already as this indicates that your barber skill is recognized professionally.
Climbing Into a Higher Salary Bracket
Ambitious individuals know there are always ways to make a little more on top of their barber salary, and surprisingly, many have nothing to do with the haircut itself. Here are our top tips for making big barber bucks that are not part of the usual barber job description:
- Offer specialty retail products – With their head in your hands and your scissors on their hair, customers are primed to view you as the hair care expert, which means they’ll take your word on what texturizing spray or finish cream is king. Take a few moments to educate clients on the products you use, and they may end up spending a little more to take them home. Cha-ching!
- Grow your social presence – Hair is a visual art, making your business perfect for swoon-worthy social posts. If your skills are truly share-worthy, why not start a social media account to spread the word? Uploading a haircut post daily is free, fast, and easy. Plus, you already created the content.
- Get those tips – These days, hair care professionals make about 15–20% in tips on top of their average salary.3 Maximize your gratuity earnings by going the extra mile to make customers feel welcome. Some barbers sweeten their services with coffee, mints, or other refreshments. Some offer better listening skills than a therapist. Whatever your secret skill is, make sure to play to your strengths and leave a tip jar front and center.
Earn More with SQUIRE
The above tricks of the trade are a great place to start, but in reality, any master barber would know there are ways to turn small moments into dollar signs at every turn. Once you’ve mastered the straight-razor shave and eyebrow waxing, your time spent learning how to create a barber shop business plan, market your services, and reach out to clients via mass text will be time well spent.
If you Googled, how much do barbers make? and are stumped about which way to turn next, you won’t go wrong signing up for an all-in-one barbershop business management system like SQUIRE. The platform is a marketing engine designed to get you clients and keep them. Plus, its dashboards let you keep an eye on your business in real-time, so you know when it’s time to hustle.
By helping to attract customers and manage operations, SQUIRE helps barbers increase their revenue and take their business to the next level. Not convinced? Reach out today to request a demo.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2021, 39-5011 Barbers. https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes395011.htm
- Weissman Center for International Business. NYC Data. https://www.baruch.cuny.edu/nycdata/population-geography/age_distribution.htm
- Christian Science Monitor. How much should you tip for a haircut? Baggage service? https://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Saving-Money/2014/0514/How-much-should-you-tip-for-a-haircut-Baggage-service
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