What Does a Barber Do?

Barbers are licensed to cut, color, perm, shampoo, and style hair, and provide shaves.

They may use tools like scissors, clippers, razors, and combs. Barbers are licensed to color, bleach, give permanent waves, and add highlights to hair. Professional barbers can also shave, trim, and style facial hair, like beards and mustaches; give hot wax and lather treatments; and administer scalp treatments. Some barbers may provide professional fittings for toupees or wigs for men.

Many barbers are self-employed, and can set their own hours, typically on weekdays and weekends, during regular day business hours, and the early evenings. This career requires you to stand on your feet for long periods of time each day.

A good barber will make clients feel at ease while they cut their hair or facial hair. After the haircut or grooming services, the barber may recommend hair care products or grooming maintenance instructions.

At the end of each client session, the barber cleans their work area, disinfects their work tools, bills the client, and closes the sale. The workstation of a professional barber meets the state’s health, safety, and sanitation codes at all times.

Job Duties of Barbers

Successful barbers make sure that each client is satisfied with the services provided, so they become repeat customers, or refer other customers. It is common for barbers to develop a loyal roster of clients who provide return business regularly.

For the individual barber, these are some common job duties, which are performed with clients, and continuously throughout each workday.

  • Cut, trim, shave, or style customers’ hair
  • Recommend haircuts, hairstyles, or hair treatments to clients
  • Hair coloring, bleaching, perms, or highlighting
  • Disinfect haircutting tools and keeping workstation clean and sanitary
  • Shave, trim, or shape facial hair
  • Administer scalp treatments
  • Carry on conversations with clients to make them feel at ease
  • Keep up with current trends in hairstyling and shaving
  • Improving haircutting skills and techniques

Skills a Talented Barber Should Have

Creativity. Barbers and hairstylists must be able to keep up with changing trends and learn new techniques as popular hair styles change over time.

Customer Service. Building your clientele as a barber is dependent on being friendly, personable, pleasant, as well as your hair cutting and styling skill.

Empathy and Ability to Listen. The professional barber listens to what the client wants and can achieve a hairstyle that makes the client look good.

Endurance and Stamina. Barbers work on their feet all day long. You must be able to stand for long periods of time and be in motion throughout the day.

Organization and Tidiness. Keeping your workstation clean, cutting tools sanitized, hair swept up, and personal appearance sharp are all essential components, both for health requirements, and professional presentation.

Time Management. Barbers who provide hair cutting and styling in an efficient manner will be able to book appointments in a predictable manner. Clients also appreciate when they receive a great looking haircut in a reasonable amount of time.

Career Options for Barbers

The traditional role we think of when we picture a barber is someone who works at the local barbershop or salon. Most professional barbers in the US work in this role, but there are other options as well.

Owning your own barber shop, and employing other barbers and hairstylists is also a viable path.

Some barbers work in skilled nursing facilities, or long-term health care facilities where patients need someone to cut their hair.

Highly skilled barbers and hairstylists can work in the celebrity sector, taking care of hair styles for actors in film or television, musicians, or other well-known celebrities.

A handful of barbers work in government or military positions, providing haircuts for federal or state employees.

Salary and Job Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not show recent projections for barbers alone, but projects that job growth for cosmetologists, barbers, and hairstylists will increase 19% between 2020 and 2030, which is much faster than most job positions are projected to grow over that decade. This means the demand for barbers is very high.

How Much Do Barbers Earn on Average?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2020, the mean annual wage for barbers nationally was $38,050 and the mean hourly wage was $18.29. The median hourly wage for barbers was $15.61 in May 2020. The mean is the average of all wages divided by the number of all jobs; the median is the middle wage of the entire set of wages.

Reported in the 2020 survey showed the bottom 25% of all barbers earning $25.80 annually and 12.25 hourly, and the top 10% percentile earning $63,450 annually and $30.51 hourly.

Learn the Trade of Barbering

The Barbering School by Paul Mitchell at MTI College in Sacramento prepares students to build a successful career as a barber. Students will be equipped to work in a salon, build a client base, and start their own barbershop.

Will You Be Able to Find a Good Barber Job?

Because there are barbershops and salons in most areas, and several in any city of reasonable size, finding a job as a barber should not be too difficult, especially if you have completed a reputable barber training program and earned state certification.

Places Where Barbers Work

The majority of barbers work in personal care services, with a small percentage working in skilled nursing facilities and hospitals, government, and other areas.

Top Cities for Barbers by Average Salary

As of May 2020, the top ten metro areas where barbers earned the most were, in this order: Seattle, Albany NY, Chicago, Washington DC, Louisville KY, Minneapolis, Portland, Los Angeles, New York City, and Baltimore.

How Do You Become a Licensed Barber?

In most states, you must complete a training program of about a year, consisting of 1500 hours of classroom instruction to be able to take the state licensing exams. A reputable barber school will help students learn how to give haircuts, shaves, and style hair, as well as training on serving clients and running the business.

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).

In most states, these things are required to become a barber (check your state requirements).

  • High school diploma, GED, or equivalent.
  • State issued barber’s license.
  • Knowledge of current hairstyles and trends.

These attributes will help you excel in your barbering career:

  • The ability to learn new techniques quickly and accurately.
  • Being able to stand on your feet for a long period of time each day.
  • Exceptional communication skills.
  • Superb customer service skills.

What Is a Barber’s Work Environment Like?

Most barbers work in a barbershop or a salon. The environments are slightly different, as traditional barbershops usually have a more masculine atmosphere, and salons are designed to be welcoming to both men and women. Some franchised barbershops may have specialized décor, such as sports memorabilia. Neighborhood barbershops may be more “no-frills”. In a neighborhood barbershop, it is common for the shop to be a welcoming spot for men and women of the community to socialize and enjoy each other’s company and small talk.

Related Careers

The most similar job position to barbers are cosmetologists. Both barbers and cosmetologists cut hair, but only barbers are licensed to use a razor to cut customers’ hair or facial hair (in most states). Cosmetologists are typically allowed to use wax or electrolysis to remove hair, and offer manicures, while barbers are not (in certain states).

Both barbers and cosmetologists are trained in esthetics. Though there are no restrictions on who barbers and cosmetologists can serve, barbers typically serve mostly male clients, while cosmetologists serve predominantly women, as they offer mail and makeup services.

Get Barber Training from Paul Mitchell the School at MTI College

If your dream is to become a highly skilled barber, and work in a barbershop or salon, MTI College has a world-class barbering program for you. To learn more about the Paul Mitchell the School at MTI College training program, find out more about our Sacramento campus, get information on class schedules, or ask questions about financial aid, contact our Admissions team today to schedule a virtual tour.

Want to learn more about MTI’s programs?

Our admissions team will help you find the perfect program to meet your goals. Financial aid is available to those who qualify.

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