With the resurgence of customers wanting a barber shop experience, many people are choosing to become a barber. Though this has traditionally been a male-dominated field, a 2017 report by USA Today shows that at least 16 percent of professional barbers are women.
A good barber school helps students learn how to give haircuts, shaves, and style hair, as well as training on serving clients and running the business. In most states, it takes close to a year to complete this training and become licensed.
How Long Does It Take to Complete Barber School in California?
In California, the first step to become a licensed barber is completing a training program of at least 1,500 hours. This is a little less than 10 months for a full-time enrollment.
This consists of training hours and practical hands-on training. After the training program is completed, you must take a written and a practical exam, overseen by the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology and National Interstate Council of Board of Cosmetology (NIC).
Steps to Becoming a Barber
In California, the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology regulates licensure and the practice of barbering. To become a licensed barber in the State of California, you must complete these steps:
1. Complete a barbering training program.
You should start with a list of possible barber schools that are approved by the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology. Pay particular attention to programs that are taught by experienced instructors who keep up with current barbering and cosmetology trends. You will need to know how to cut, style and color hair, groom and shave facial hair, as well as understanding physiology, hygiene, state regulations, and how to run a barbering business.
2. Apply for a California Barber License.
Once you have completed a barber program approved by the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology, you must complete and submit a Barber Application for Examination, along with a license fee of $125, and additional processing fees You can also complete an online application.
Once the Board has reviewed your application, they will notify you of your eligibility to take the written and practical exam. Passing these exams is required for licensure as a barber in California.
3. Pass the licensing exams.
The barbering exam in California is in two parts: a written and practical component. The barber written examination has 100 questions and candidates are allowed 90 minutes to complete. The practical component may take up to 3 hours, with a scheduled 15-minute break period. The Board has two permanent testing sites; one in Northern California in Fairfield and one in Southern California in Glendale.
4. Renew your barber license when the time comes.
In California, your barber license must be renewed in the first odd-numbered year after you pass the initial exam. Every two years you must submit a renewal application and the renewal fee of $50. If you pay your renewal fee late, there may be an extra fee.
What Do You Learn in Barber School?
Barbering students learn the techniques of hair styling, shaving, hair cutting and more.
The California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology has specific requirements for training hours and hands-on training. This consists of the following:
- Hairstyling: 65 hours of instruction and 240 procedures.
- Permanent waving and chemical straightening: 40 hours of instruction and 105 procedures.
- Hair coloring and bleaching: 60 hours of instruction and 50 procedures.
- Hair cutting: 20 hours of instruction and 80 procedures.
- Shaving: 200 hours of instruction and practical training.
- Preparation and performance: 100 hours of instruction and 40 procedures.
- Laws and regulations: 20 hours of instruction.
- Health and safety considerations: 45 hours of instruction.
- Disinfection and sanitation: 20 hours of instruction.
- Anatomy and physiology: 15 hours of instruction.
Additionally, the Paul Mitchell Barbering Program at MTI College teaches students the following:
- Haircutting and styling following the Paul Mitchell Barbering system.
- Skincare treatments for men.
- Beard Design, shaving with straight edge razors and maintenance.
- How to accurately make product recommendations based on customers’ needs.
- Fundamental business practices to a barbershop or salon environment, including customer service, retail skills, and client record-keeping.
Differences Between Barber School and Cosmetology School
Barber programs focus not only on men’s hairstyling, haircuts, and facial shaving including straight-razor shaving, coloring and styling, but also teaches skincare and esthetics, and advanced male styles.
How Long Will The Barbering Program Take?
The Paul Mitchell the School at MTI College program is 1500 clock hours, and the length of the program is 43 weeks.
The program is divided into pre-clinical classroom instruction, followed by clinical hands-on experience. In the first part of the curriculum, students learn design principles, techniques, and professional practices through workshops and instruction. This is followed by hands-on clinical experience learned on the salon floor and the classroom.
Are There Other Paths to Becoming a Licensed Barber?
In other states, like New Hampshire and West Virginia, the required course hours are less than the 1,500 hours required for licensure in California. In states like New York, you can apprentice under a licensed barber. Generally, these state-specific licenses do not transfer over state lines.
What Do Barbers Typically Do?
A barber is a grooming and hair styling professional who works primarily with male clients. Barbers cut, trim, style, and color hair. They also provide custom shaves, facial hair maintenance, and other scalp and grooming services.
Some other tasks a barber typically does each day include:
- Using scissors, clippers, razors, combs, or other hair styling tools.
- Coloring or styling hair, taking care to protect their skin and the client’s skin from any chemicals used in processing.
- Shaving or styling facial hair.
- Shampooing hair.
- Recommending products for hair styling or treatments for scalp conditions.
- Sanitizing tools and equipment.
- Keeping a clean work area and cleaning up any hair after a haircut or shave.
- Greeting and conversing with customers.
- Accepting payment and setting future appointments.
Usually, barbers work in a barbershop or salon. Many will be self-employed. Standing on your feet most of the day is also part of the job.
What Is the Job Outlook for Barbers?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that 64,000 jobs will be added in barbering and cosmetology between 2018 and 2028. This is an 8% increase, which is faster job growth than average.
Barbers held about 66,500 jobs in 2019. 70% of these were self-employed, and another 29+% worked in personal care services. Less than 1% of barbers were employed in long-term health care facilities and government.
Take the Next Step to Become a Licensed Barber
You can talk to one of our admissions specialists and learn more about our world-class barbering program, see our training facility, find out more about our campus, learn about class schedules, get questions answered about financial aid, and more. Click the link below to get in touch with our Admissions team and schedule a virtual tour.