What's the Difference Between a Barber and a Stylist?

Whether you're a barber or stylist, you'll perform similar roles within the personal care industry. Differences will exist, however, in your education, specific professional tasks and licensing, depending on which career you choose. Read on to learn more about the similarities and contrasts between barbers and stylists. Schools offering Fashion Design degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Education for Barbers and Stylists

As an aspiring barber, you might enroll in a certificate or technical diploma program, although your state may allow apprenticeships as an acceptable form of training. A barber's course of study takes about one year to complete. You could participate in hands-on training in a school-operated salon.

If your goal is to become a stylist, your education may take longer than a year, depending on the academic credential you want to earn. You'll usually study cosmetology in a certificate, diploma or associate's degree program. Apprenticeships might be another possibility in your state. A hands-on component will also be a requirement of your learning.

Important Facts About Barbers and Hairstylists

Barbers Hairstylists
Entry-level Education Postsecondary non-degree award Postsecondary non-degree award
Work Environment Barbershops, salons, spas Salons, spas, resorts
On-the-Job Training Not provided Not provided
Key Skills Physical stamina, tidiness, listening skills Creativity, physical stamina, customer-service and time-management skills

Professional Tasks

If you are a barber, you'll specialize in performing grooming services exclusively for men with a few exceptions, while as a stylist, you may serve male or female clients. Both barbers and stylists can cut, color, perm or style hair. Only barbers, though, may perform razor shaves for men. As a barber, you'll have mastered techniques in stropping, honing and shaving, along with hair and scalp care, skin care and facial massage, disinfection procedures and sanitation practices.

It is possible that you might perform nail care and manicures as a stylist, utilizing skills you learned in a cosmetology program. Barbering programs do not include these classes, because these tasks are not typically part of barbering services.

Licensing Requirements

Every state will require that you hold a license, regardless of whether you're a barber or a stylist. Required instructional hours and practical training vary by career and state law. Typically, as a stylist, you would earn a cosmetology license, and as a barber, you would earn a barber license. With progressive experience and time on the job as a working barber, you may qualify to earn a master barber license, if that's offered in your state.

Salary and Job Outlook Information

Barbers and stylists earned similar salaries in 2014. As reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), barbers earned an average annual salary of $28,430. The BLS counts stylists along with hairdressers and cosmetologists; the agency reports that in 2014 these workers earned an average annual salary of $27,940, with most employed in the personal care services industry.

Employment of barbers and stylists had been predicted by the BLS to grow by 10% from 2014 to 2024, which is considered faster than the national average. This growth is primarily attributed to the country's expanding population.

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