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How Do I Earn a Barber's License?

Earning a barber's license usually entails completion of high school or its equivalent, along with graduation from a state-approved barbering school. For more licensing information, keep reading.

Barber's License Requirements

In order to qualify for a barber's license, most states require that you hold a high school diploma or GED credential. Many state licensure boards for barbers have a minimum age requirement and mandate that you complete a certain number of hours in a state-approved barbering program. Because state licensure requirements vary, you may wish to check with your state's board of barbering and cosmetology to ensure you meet the necessary requirements.

Important Facts About Barbers

Required Education Postsecondary non-degree award
Work Environment Barber shop, salon, spa, hotel, resort
Similar Occupations Manicurist/pedicurist, skin care specialist
Key Skills Creativity, customer service, physical stamina, cleanliness, time management

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Training Programs and Coursework

Barber training programs can be found in vocational schools and community colleges in the form of diploma, certificate and associate's degree programs. Some states allow you to train as an apprentice to a licensed barber and earn a small wage while building skills and experience. In general, these programs can be completed within 1-2 years.

As a student, you'll learn how to provide hair care services, such as trimming, cutting and shampooing hair for mainly male customers. You'll work with multiple kinds of hair - including hairpieces, weaves and wigs - and learn common approaches for styling. Important safety and sanitation techniques, basic skin care, nail care and shaving techniques will also be taught. Most diploma programs provide some business training as well, including sales, shop management and customer service.

License Exam Information

States typically require between 1,000-2,000 hours of combined training and education in order to qualify to take the barbering licensure exam. Exams usually includes two sections: a written test and a hands-on styling or practical test. In general, the written portion takes 1-2 hours and consists of multiple-choice questions testing your knowledge of hair care skills, safety and sanitation techniques. The practical exam portion may take longer, and it usually requires you to demonstrate your skills on a live model.

Employment and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of barbers was expected to decline by 1% from 2019-2029. As a licensed barber, you may start your career renting a station in a salon, building your skills and establishing a clientele. With experience, many barbers open their own shops. PayScale.com reported that the median salary for barbers in March 2021 was $39,000.