How to Get a Barber License
Maybe you’ve been the go-to individual when it comes to giving your friends the tightest fades, the person they come to with questions like whether the quiff or the side part is more their style.
Then, it dawns on you. You could turn your passion into a career and earn an income with your expertise—and it all starts with a barber license.
But where do you even start?
With our step-by-step guide, discover how to get a barber license so you can monetize your talents and find your place in the ever-expanding world of the barber shop industry.
Step 1: Determine Your State’s Prerequisites
Before you begin hunting for the right school in the United States, you’ll need to make sure you meet your state’s requirements to be a barber school candidate, including:
- The minimum age – Most states require applicants to be at least 16 years old, but some require them to be 17 or 18.
- The minimum degree requirements – Most programs in the United States insist applicants prove they’ve received a high school diploma or GED before accepting them into the program.
Step 2: Find the Right Barber School for You
The next step in obtaining your barber license is deciding where you want to go to school. When you begin your quest for the perfect place to hone your craft, you’ll find that barber schools are as plentiful as well-manicured beards. Although they’re a dime a dozen, not all barber schools are created equal.
Here are a few key aspects to consider when searching for a barber school:
- Check their accreditation status – According to the BLS, all barbers must receive schooling from a state-approved program (an accredited school).1 Sure, it’s a requirement, but it’s more than that. Accredited programs ensure you’re receiving an education that meets or exceeds the state’s conditions, so you can feel confident in your knowledge and skill set when you graduate. You can make sure your program’s accredited by checking on the Department of Education’s website.2
- Ask for the student-to-teacher ratio – When it comes to learning the tools of the trade, less is more—fewer students and more teachers, that is. Fewer students typically equate to more one-on-one time with instructors. This gives you more time to perfect the pompadour and finally discover the difference between tapers and fades.
- Find out if they offer job placement services – Some schools provide job placement after you’ve received your license. While not all students take advantage of this convenience, it’s reassuring to know you’ll have a guaranteed job offer once you graduate and pass your licensing exam
Step 3: Complete the Necessary Barber Training
Once a barber school has accepted you into their program, the real excitement begins. Although every school offers its own unique curriculum based on the number of hours required, you can expect to learn a wealth of knowledge and gain hands-on experience through barber training in a variety of areas, including:3
- Hygiene and sanitation – Learn the fundamentals of keeping your station clean and clients safe, like the distinction between disinfecting and sanitizing (as a matter of fact, there is a difference).
- Related sciences and general knowledge – Understand more about hair and scalp anatomy so that you can properly treat, cut, color, and style a variety of hair types.
- Shaving, cutting, and styling techniques – Learn the fundamentals of different shaving styles and strokes and perfect the art of haircutting with sheers, razors, and scissors. You’ll also practice styling techniques, like curling, brushing, combing, and thermal pressing.
- Barber chemistry – Study the basic chemistry related to compounds used in hair relaxers, cold waving, hair dyes, and more.
- Shop management – If you’re interested in managing or owning a barbershop in the future, consider a school that offers shop management. It’ll break down topics surrounding local and state regulations, inventory control, advertising, record-keeping, and customer relations.
Step 4: Apply for (and Pass) Your Barber Licensing Exam
After a rigorous year of hands-on barber training , you can apply to take your state’s licensing exam. The cost and length of the examination varies by state. For example, Nebraska’s state board test is three hours long and includes a $220 licensing fee,4 while New York’s state board examination is 90 minutes and costs $15, along with a $40 application fee.5
Since each state has different stipulations, you can speak with the director or one of the barber examiners or instructors at your barber school for exact details on how to register for your state’s exam.
After you’ve passed, you are now a licensed barber. With your hard-earned business license in hand, not even the dullest pair of clippers could keep you from expertly sheering your way toward your long-term barber goals. With hard work and grit, you can make those dreams a reality.
Things to Consider Before Becoming a Licensed Barber
Before investing your time and money into barber school and becoming a professional barber, there are a few questions to mull over before you can truly decide if pursuing a career in razor-wielding hair-styling is for you:
How Long Does It Take to Get a Barber License?
Although it varies from state to state, the average barber program is approximately 1,000 to 1,500 hours long.6 Some states, like New York, only require 288 hours,7 whereas others, like Ohio, mandate 1,800-hour curriculums.8
The time to complete your education depends on your student status:3
- Full-time students can finish school and apply for their exams in as little as six months, possibly longer, depending on the length of the program.
- Part-time students often work other jobs while attending barber school. While their path will probably take twice as long to complete, many part-time students finish barber school in one or two years.
How Do I Know If Barbering Is The Career For Me?
Now you’re familiar with how to get a barber license, but you’re not sure you’re ready to take the plunge to become a professional barber. Why not try dipping your toes in the pomade-filled waters by giving your friend a haircut?
If you feel that special spark while you’re working on their high and tight, there’s your answer. And if your high and tight ends up a little too tight, you can buy him a fresh cut at the barbershop and have a candid conversation with the barber about their career. It’s a win-win for all parties.
How Can I Learn More About the Industry?
You’ve only just brushed the surface of barbering. If you want to learn the inner workings of a barber shop, there are a couple of quality resources you can turn to, like:
- Listening to barber podcasts – There’s a podcast for almost any subject you can think of. It only makes sense that there would also be numerous podcasts dedicated solely to barbers. You can expect to soak in a variety of topics, including the most recent trends in the industry, insight into what it takes to be a thriving barber, and a deep dive into the art and science of barbering. You’ll even pick up in-depth tips such as which barber services to offer or creating a barber shop business plan.
- Speaking with (or shadowing) a barber – Nothing beats finding answers directly from the source. Whether you owe your friend a clean-up after a very valiant but failed haircut or you’ve set up a job shadow with your favorite local barber, an already-practicing pro can give you all the details about what they do. With their help, you can outline a comprehensive list of pros and cons and keep a sharp eye on the ins and outs of daily life on the job. You can even learn the answer to the question: how much do barbers make? straight from the experts themselves.
What Does It Take to Become a Successful Barber?
Besides the hard skills you’ll learn in barber school, you’ll use plenty of soft skills each day too, like:
- Interpersonal skills – Otherwise known as people skills, it’s important to know how to read the room, or in this case—your client. Some clients will tell you their life stories without coming up for air. Others would rather pop in their AirPods and avoid conversing altogether. Distinguishing one from the other is key to providing them with just the right amount of chit-chat that keeps them coming back for more.
- Physical stamina – In theory, standing for eight hours a day doesn’t seem too daunting. But you might change your tune after your first full day of apprenticeship at your barber school. Plus, you’re not simply standing in the same place. You’re moving around your station to perfect your client’s cut, walking them to the sink for hair washes, and going to the supply closet to mix bleach or hair colors. While it’s doable, it requires stamina—and a comfortable pair of shoes.
SQUIRE: Streamline Your Management With Ease
Picture it: You’re the proud owner of the hottest up-and-coming barbershop in town. You’ve secured your business license, and you’re fully booked and bringing in a sizeable amount of dough. But with that success comes daily responsibilities.
Why not take some of the pressure off by investing in some help?
SQUIRE is an all-in-one barber business management system that streamlines all of your processes for you. Whether you’re benefitting from daily One Touch Payout™ for barbers or managing bookings from the comfort of your phone, SQUIRE makes space for you to operate your business with ease and agility.
Leave all of your barber management needs to SQUIRE and begin expanding your business by requesting a demo today.
- BLS. How to Become a Barber, Hairstylist, or Cosmetologist. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/personal-care-and-service/barbers-hairstylists-and-cosmetologists.htm#tab-4
- Homeland Security. The Basics of School Accredidation. https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/the-basics-of-school-accreditation
- National Barbers. Barber School. Everything You Need to Know. https://nationalbarbers.org/barber-school-guide/#tab-con-6
- Nebraska Board of Barber Examiners. Fees for Applications. https://barbers.nebraska.gov/fees.html
- Department of State. Barber. https://dos.ny.gov/barber
- Injustice for Justice. Barber Licensing. https://ij.org/report/license-to-work-3/ltw-occupation-profile/barber/
- Barber License. Barber Schools and License Requirements in New York. https://www.barber-license.com/new-york/#pass-exam
- Barber License. Barber Schools and License Requirements in Ohio. https://www.barber-license.com/ohio/
- Barber License. How to Become a Barber. https://www.barber-license.com/
- College Tuition Compare. Barbering/Barber Career Program Tuition & Fees Comparison. https://www.collegetuitioncompare.com/compare/tables/vocational-program/barbering-barber/
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