Before enrolling: please read this career outline as a guide to see if a career in barbering is  for you.

Nature of the Work – Career as a Barber

Hair care has been an important profession since the beginning of time.  Throughout history, a great deal of effort has gone into acquiring a fashionable hairstyle or a perfectly trimmed beard. Although styles change from year to year, the Barber’s task remains the same – to make an attractive change in a person’s appearance.

Becoming a barber, you will shampoo, cut and style hair, and advise patrons on how to properly care for their hair.  Frequently, they straighten or texturizer a patron’s hair to keep the style in shape.  Barbers may also lighten or darken the color of the hair at the patron’s request. Barbers may give manicures, scalp and facial treatments; and clean and style hairpieces.

Barbers keep their work area clean and sanitize their haircutting tools and implements.  Those who operate their own salons also have managerial duties, which include hiring and supervising workers,keeping records, and ordering supplies and the list goes on and on.

Working Conditions

Barbers work in a clean, pleasant environment, with good lighting and comfortable temperatures.  Their work can be tiring and physically demanding because they must be on their feet for long hours at a time and work with their hands at shoulder level. Barbers also work with sharp implements (razors)and a small amount of chemicals. Manyfull-time barbers work more than 40 hours a week, including evenings and weekends when barbershops are busiest.

Training, other Qualifications and Advancements

Although all states require barbers to be licensed, for a career as a barber, the qualifications necessary to obtain a license vary.  Generally, a person must have graduated from a state-licensed barber school, pass a physical examination, and be at least 16 years old. In addition, states have varying educational requirements – some have no requirement, while others require graduation from high school. In some states, completion of an apprentice-training program can substitute for graduation from a barber school, but very few barbers learn their skills in this way.

Barber instruction is offered in both public and private vocational schools, in either day-time or evening classes.  A day-time programs usually takes 6 months to 1 year to complete; however, evening program takes longer.  Many public school programs include the academic subjects needed for a high school diploma and at least 2 to 3 years. An apprenticeship program usually lasts 1 or 2 years.  No apprenticeship program is available in Tennessee, if your considering a career as a barber.

Both public and private programs include classroom study,demonstrations, and practical work.  Most schools provide students with the necessary hair styling implements, such as manicure implements,combs, scissors, razors, and hair rollers, and include their cost in the tuition fee.  In some instances, students must purchase their own tools and implements. A professional set of implements range between$300.00-$500.00.   Freshmen students practice on mannequins and/or each other. Once students have gained some experience, students perform their skill on patrons in school clinic.  Most schools have added unisex hair styling as part of the teaching curriculum.

After graduating from a barber program, students take state licensing examinations.  The examinations consist of a written exam and a practical exam.  These exams allow applicants to demonstrate their theoretical knowledge and practical skill to provide the required services.  In some states, an oral examination is included and hepatica is asked to explain the procedures he or she is following while taking the practical test. In other states, a separate examninationexamination is given for persons who want only a manicurist’s license. Some states have reciprocity agreements that allow a barber license out of one state to be valid in another without re-examination.

Barber Career

 For many young people, barbering serves as an entry point to the world of work. The field is also characterized by a pattern of movement from family responsibilities into the labor force-when employment and earnings are attractive enough-and back to the home again. In fact,most entrants into this occupation come from outside the labor force-from homemaking and school in roughly equal numbers.  Relatively few entrants transfer from other occupations.

Persons wanting to become barbers must have finger dexterity and a sense of form and artistry.  They should enjoy dealing with the public and be willing and able to follow patrons’ instructions.  Because hairstyles are constantly changing, barbers must keep abreast of the latest fashions and barber techniques.  Business skills are important for those who plan to operate their own salons. Many schools help their students find jobs.   Advancement usually is in the form of higher earnings as barbers gain experience and build a steady clientele, but many manage larges salons or open their own after several years of experience.

Some teach in barber schools or use their knowledge and skill to demonstrate cutting on platform.  Others become demonstrators, manufacturer representatives, research assistants, and trade technicians or technical supervisors. Other possibilities include stateboard members, state board examiners, and educational directors.

The following are excerpts from the Bureau of Labor Statistic , 2010-20 NATIONAL SURVEY

Job Outlook

Overall employment of barbers, hairdressers, cosmetologists, and shampooers is expected to grow 14 percent from 2010 to 2020, as fast as the average for all occupations. Growth rates will vary by specialty.

Employment of barbers is projected to grow 7 percent, slower than the average for all occupations. The need for barbers will stem primarily from an increasing population, which will lead to greater demand for basic hair-care services.

Employment of hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists is projected to grow 16 percent, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Demand for hair coloring, hair straightening, and other advanced hair treatments has increased in recent years, a trend that is expected to continue over the coming decade.

Employment of shampooers is projected to decline 9 percent as more barbers, hairdressers, and hairstylists perform shampooing services themselves.

Job Prospects


Overall job opportunities for barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists are expected to be good. A large number of job openings will stem from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations, retire, or leave the occupations for other reasons. However, workers should expect stiff competition for jobs and clients at higher paying salons, of which there are relatively few and for which applicants must compete with a large pool of experienced hairdressers and cosmetologists.


Because employment of shampooers is expected to decline, job opportunities should be somewhat limited, available only from the need to replace those who leave the occupation.


Employment projections data for barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists, 2010-20
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2010 Projected Employment, 2020 Change, 2010-20 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric
SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program
Barbers, Hairdressers, and Cosmetologists 712,200 813,000 14 100,900
Barbers 39-5011 62,200 66,700 7 4,500 [XLS]
Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists 39-5012 627,700 726,100 16 98,400 [XLS]
Shampooers 39-5093 22,300 20,300 -9 -2,000



Barbers, Hairdressers, and Cosmetologists

Median hourly wages for occupational specialties in May 2010 were as follows:

  • $11.45 for barbers
  • $10.94 for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists
  • $8.78 for shampooers

Many barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists work part time. However, some self-employed workers have long hours. Work schedules often include evenings and weekends―the times when beauty salons and barbershops are busiest. Those who are self-employed usually determine their own schedules.


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