If you want to become a barber, you’ll need to research barber schools, classes, state license requirements, cost and length of different programs. Because barbering will always be in-demand, being a barber can offer a great career. But before you start, you’ll have to get a barber license. There are many traditional and online barber schools, courses, and training programs that can help you transform from beginner to master barber.
To help inspire you, here’s a complete guide to becoming a barber. From how long to how much is barber school, we will cover everything you need to know to get your barber’s license and eventually open your own barbershop!
How To Become A Barber
While the license requirements to become a barber differ by state, most barbers are required to take multiple barbering courses as well as get through 1,500 hours of instruction in barber school. Although some students who want to be barbers already have the hair cutting skills necessary to be successful in the profession even before attending classes, professional barber shops are legally required to only hire individuals who have a license.
If you’re confident in our ability to cut hair, give fades, and style beards, then you can always consider an online barber school to accelerate the process. While you’ll still need in-person training to get your certification, online classes can be cheap and convenient. If becoming a barber is something you are serious about pursuing, read on to learn how to get a barber license so you can start your career.
How To Get A Barber License
If you’re looking to get a barber license, there are a number of steps that you need to bear in mind. For starters, getting a barber’s license and getting certified to work in your local barbershop can vary from state to state.
Every state has an independent Board of Barbering and Cosmetology. Although many of the requirements are very similar, becoming a barber in California can have a different set of rules than getting a license in Texas, New York, Florida, Massachusetts, Illinois, Washington, New Jersey, Georgia, or Colorado.
You’ll need to check the demands for your state as the various laws, regulations and courses will all differ, but all states require that you go to barber school to get a license to work as a paid professional. However, we will review the most common requirements to get a barber license.
High School Diploma or GED
Across all states, you will need to have your high school diploma or GED. You can attend barber school while you are still in high school, through community college classes at night, but you will eventually need to graduate high school to get your license.
Finish An Approved Barber Training Program
To apply for your license and become a barber, you’ll need to complete an approved training program. Barber schools offer courses such as hair washing, cutting, styling, hygiene and sanitation, coloring, and shaving. Other aspects of the programs may cover best business practices, how to start a barbershop, and state laws, rules and regulations for barbering.
Some boards will also need you to work as an apprentice or take on a certain amount of work to get experience before you can get your license. Also, for many barber courses, you’ll have to work on-campus, as you’ll be doing a lot of practical work. This means you’ll need class hours to qualify to take your barber exam.
For example, to get a barber license in California, Illinois, and Texas, you will need to find a program at a school approved by the state board. To take the state board exam for certification, you will need a total of 1,500 hours of class instruction and training. The breakdown of these courses can be as follow:
- 1,100 hours technical instruction and practical training for hair styling
- 200 hours technical instruction and practical training for health and safety
- 200 hours technical instruction and practical training for shaving
Take The State Board Barber Exam
Once you have completed the required hours, you’ll need to submit an application. Sign up quickly as you might have to wait 8 weeks for your application to be processed and approved. If you’ve completed a good program from a reputable school, then your classes will have already covered everything you should know for the test.
In fact, the best barber schools will likely make you take a mock exam to measure your current preparedness, and where you might need to improve.
Finally, you’ll need to take the official exam: a two-part test with a computer-based written section and a practical section. The first half contains about 100 questions to complete in 90 minutes and will cover everything that you have learned. The second part requires you to actually cut hair. Should you pass, you will officially be a licensed barber.
Barber License Online
Getting a barber license online is easy and simple if you have the necessary barbering skills to pass the state exam. While you will still have to enroll in barber school to get your hours, you can take all your classes online and accelerate the process. You’ll just need to find the right online barber school to accommodate your needs.
To learn more about how to get a barber license online, review your state’s licensing requirements, laws and regulations. You’ll also find a list of approved barbering courses and programs near you. There may even be free barber schools and training programs you can attend. At the very least, most community colleges near you will offer cheap classes at night.
Best Online Barber Schools
Learning to become a barber takes a lot of practical, hands-on training such as cutting hair, so entry-level programs aren’t available in an online-only format. In general, you will need to enroll at a barber college that has a suitable training program with in-person instructors who can help you learn barbering techniques.
However, students can complete some courses online. Classes that teach sanitation, hygiene, good business practices, laws and regulations can be available online.
In all states, there are licensing requirements for barbers and cosmetologists. Professionals will usually need to both pass a test and finish a program of education, which are generally offered by your state’s licensing board.
Should you complete the required training and get your professional certification, this will open more doors for barbers who are looking to advance into higher positions, such as instructor or manager.
If a barber school is willing to help you find work and get hired after, it means they are investing in their students and confident in their program. A school’s alumni, connections, and support system are crucial to your future success.
Choose A Reputable School
Just as if you were intending to study at a traditional college or university, it’s important that you choose a reputable school that will deliver high-quality training. With growth in both the men’s beauty sector and the digital world, you’ll have plenty of options to sift through – it’s up to you to weed out the bad ones.
Make sure that the course has been planned by industry professionals and will teach you everything you need to know about everything that goes alongside simply cutting and styling hair. Opening your own business, becoming an instructor yourself, and finding work are all skills that can be included at courses run by reputable schools.
Cost of Tuition
Anyone considering going to a barber school is already wondering “how much is barber school going to cost me?” While the education you get is the most important factor, the cost of tuition can make a program worth the money or not. The reputation and location of a school will impact how much the program will charge.
However, you should talk to graduates and read online reviews to see what past students have to say about classes and instructors. Moreover, don’t be afraid to ask about financial aid, student loans, and scholarships.
Full Time or Part Time Program
Most traditional and online barber classes can be taken full-time or part-time. If you have a family to support or other commitments in life, you may need an evening barber school program. Given the cost of barber school, be honest with yourself and determine whether you can handle a certain schedule.
Online Barber Courses
How To Cut Hair
This course revolves around the basics. Students will learn the basics of barbering, including using equipment like clippers, scissors, detailers, combs and razors. You’ll also learn how to give good haircuts and style the most popular hairstyles. If you plan to take online barber courses, this is one you should be starting off with.
Laws For Barbering and Cosmetology
It’s vital to know the laws around your responsibilities as a barber, as well as regulations regarding inspections, penalties, and health standards. Of course, the laws in every state can be different, so although this course can be taken online, it will generally reflect the statues and codes of the state in which the school’s campus is physically located.
As we’ve seen, it’s important to get this right if you want your license, so this is a course that you will need to take in order to qualify.
Safety and Sanitary Practices
If you’re planning on being a barber, you’ll need to know how to deliver a safe and sanitary service. This course shows how to be safe and clean while providing quality service. You’ll also learn about the risks of poor hygiene, such as infection.
Students of the course will learn what precautions and steps should be taken to keep the work environment clean when dealing with clients.
Should you want to become a barber’s instructor yourself, this course can help you teach barbering, hair cutting and styling to future barbers. It generally consists of a combination of online work and first-hand experience in the classroom. As part of the course, you can learn everything from planning lessons and activities to grading students and even handling simple first aid.
The ability to educate others at a barber or cosmetology school can be a career of its own.
How To Open A Barbershop
If you want to learn about the business side of things, you’ll need to understand the basics of opening and running a barbershop. With a focus on marketing, finances and employment, it’s aimed at barbers looking to set up and run their own business.
From risk management to choosing employees to work for you, this type of online course can prove valuable in the long run.
How Long Is Barber School?
Barber school can take 6 months to 2 years to complete, depending on whether you enroll part or full-time. Even after you graduate school and have learned all the barbering you need to be successful, the process of getting your barber license can take weeks.
Simply put, barber courses aren’t a fast-track into the career, as you need to put in many hours of hard work. For instance, in California, most programs will require that you put in between 1,000 and 1,500 hours of training, instruction, and practice before you can take the state exam and get your license.
If you’re working on the program full-time, you’ll probably be at school for around 6 to 12 months. However, if you’re juggling school with other commitments like work or family, it can take 12 to 24 months or longer to graduate and start your work as a barber.
Do You Have To Go To Barber School?
You might be wondering whether there’s any way to side-step going to school when getting your barber license. However, while it’s theoretically possible in some states, it’s not recommended. You’ll have to use your own equipment and learn the required skills yourself.
There are tutorial kits and YouTube videos online to help, but even the best instructional videos will not compare to a program at barber school. You’ll also need to enroll at a barber school to obtain a certificate of completion. The other way to become a barber is to start an apprenticeship, but the process is much longer and more complicated.
Hence, it’s much more practical to go down the traditional route and go to classes instead of trying to get the experience independently.
Online Barber Schools vs Traditional Schools
Another consideration is whether to enroll in a traditional school or to take a barber course online. Both have their advantages, and many courses offered today are a hybrid of the two. But if distance is a concern, you can always choose an online barber school.
A range of good vocational schools and 2-year colleges offer barbering classes, but keep in mind that you’ll still need to complete a set number of hours before you get your license. More to the point, it may be harder to choose the right school if you’re planning on taking an online-only course, as you aren’t getting the first-hand experience that you need to be a successful barber.
Ultimately, even the most comprehensive online courses won’t give you the real-world experience that you’d get taking a traditional program at Paul Mitchell Barber School or another local college. Therefore, going to a traditional barber college is almost always the best option.
So much of the training involved in getting your license requires in-person instruction and experience, and it’s difficult to do most of your learning solely online. You can embrace your career fully and enjoy the practical side of cutting and styling hair with instructors able to assist and critique your technique.
How Much Does Barber School Cost?
The cost of barber school can vary wildly, depending on the location, length of the program, reputation of the school and whether you take online classes. Barber school can cost between $1,000 to over $20,000. Generally, online barber schools are cheaper.
However, you shouldn’t just choose a cheap barber school to save money. There can be many reasons for a school charging a higher price, and you should choose the one right for you, your needs, and your budget. Specifically, if you have no experience and need to learn how to cut and fade hair, then you may benefit from hands-on instruction and training.
Furthermore, some schools might be in better locations than others, or have better facilities and a longer, more detailed program. Make sure that you do your research and don’t just enroll in the first school that catches your eye.
Like anything else, what you pay for your education will eventually reflect what you get back. Check out barber school reviews, and if you can afford to spend more money on a good program, it will more than likely be worth it in the long run. This will hopefully be your career for years to come, so an investment now can really pay off for decades to come.
Free Barbering Courses
Grants and Scholarships
Despite what you may think at first, there are a number of grants and scholarships open to students looking to complete barbering courses. There has been a rise in the amount of scholarships offered for vocational programs in recent years, and prospective barbers are among those who can feel the benefit.
It’s worth having a look around for the grant or scholarship that works for you. Particularly for students struggling with the financial side of things, businesses in the hair and beauty industry sponsor a range of scholarships. Just make sure that you get your application in early, and that you meet any merit requirements.
For example, the Joe Francis Haircare Scholarship Foundation gives out $1,000 scholarships each year to students enrolled in a barbering or cosmetology school. Similarly, the Alice Madden Barton Scholarship Program is sponsored by Great Clips, and gives awards in January and July to high school graduates who want to study barbering or cosmetology for their career.
Online Courses with Videos
Another low-cost option is to take online courses with videos. A lot cheaper than other programs, they feature a range of videos from professional barbers. Often, each course will consist of a few video tutorials with comprehensive training and detailed instructions. The videos will come alongside documents and diagrams to support you develop your skills.
Of course, these aren’t the same as enrolling in a course at a barber school, as you don’t get the personalized teaching and physical experience. So, while online video tutorials are an option, they definitely shouldn’t be your first choice.
Do you know any local barbers? An apprenticeship with a skilled master barber can be a great way to get experience for free. If you can, build relationships with local barber shops and owners. You never know what benefits you might get in return. Of course, there are drawbacks to this method.
Just remember that professional barbers are not perfect themselves, and you run the risk of picking up bad habits. Plus, you won’t get the well-rounded experience that you could expect from going to a barber college. Similarly, you may just learn one style of barbering.
We recommend getting real-world advice from a professional while also completing a reputable program.
Most barbers are pretty happy and fulfilled by their career. In addition to working with your hands, being creative, and making money, there is never a dull moment for barbers. If you’re naturally outgoing and social, you’ll build relationships with your clients and always have someone new to talk to.
You can gain experience and start by renting a chair in a barbershop. Ultimately, successful barbers always have the ability to start a barber shop. Opening your own barbershop, or even buying one, is often the dream goal. This is when barbers can really start to make 6-figure incomes and take their entrepreneurial spirit to the next level.