Barber School: Everything You NEED to Know

Are you considering enrolling in barber school, but are still unsure whether it is the right career path for you?

Let me start by saying this: in my opinion, you can’t become a barber, you either are one or you’re not.

Maybe you already know giving glorious fades and cuts is the path for you, and you’ve always know. Now, you’re just collecting all of the information you can, so you are able to make the best, most educated decision on choosing the right barber school for you.

No matter where you are in the decision-making process, you are in the right place because you are about to learn everything you could want, and quite honestly need, to know about getting into and successfully completing barber school.

Due to the hype that has emerged over the past two years, the art of barbering has become more prominent and is getting the attention it deserves. But has that blurred what barbering really is?

First, we’re going to break down for you exactly what being a barber means, and what your potential career choice has in store.

What Is Barbering?

Barbering, which is as old as America itself, is certainly a career steeped in tradition.

Many of today’s barbers use the same equipment or tools, practice the same techniques, and retain the atmosphere of barber shops of long ago. In fact, not much has changed in barbering, as this profession is considered an art form that requires skill, training, a steady hand, and a sharp eye.

As a barber, you get to specialize in the cutting, trimming, and styling of hair, mustaches, and beards. Barbers are the specialists in masculine style, providing facial, shaving, and hair-cutting services to men.

The barber career choice has also seen a recent resurgence or rise in popularity. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics “Employment of barbers is projected to grow 13 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations.”

If you’re passionate about beginning a career in the barber industry and are ready to blaze a path in this booming industry- we’re here to help get you started. However, entering this particular field does require you to obtain specialized schooling.

Why Attend Barber School?

If you wanted to be a chef in a nice restaurant, you would attend culinary school to get the proper training and learn all the prerequisites, before applying. If you wanted to be a business titan, you would go to school and choose a major in your desired field of practice.

This all goes for a career in barbering, too.  

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), every state mandates that a barber must complete barber school and become licensed in order to practice in that state. If you don’t go to school to undergo the necessary training in barbering, you cannot legitimately work in this field. Be advised every state has slightly different requirements, so read up on yours before doing anything else! indicates that barbering is the “fourth most heavily regulated occupation among moderate-income occupations,” when compared to other types of occupational licenses.

This means that there is absolutely no way to work around this requirement.

If you want a barber career, you must go to school to earn a license.

Is There A Difference Between Beauty School And Barber School?

It’s not uncommon for beauty school and barber school to be used interchangeably. Yet while it may be subtle, there is actually a difference between the two. Yes, cosmetologists do and can cut men’s hair but your learnings in barber school go much more in depth than what a cosmetologist is allowed to do within their scope of practice.

It is important to realize this difference up front to ensure that you are attending the school that can give you the career you want.

According to the online career resource, Beauty Schools Directory, “barber school will teach you how to properly cut, style and color (primarily) men's hair and facial hair. In comparison, a cosmetology program will provide you with a more varied education that includes hair, nails, makeup and skin care, and you will serve both male and female clients.”

In further detail, certification for becoming a barber is completed on average in about 9 to 12 months. You’ll start with the basics, general information, and safety and sanitation, then later move onto more advanced techniques of shaving, hair coloring and cutting as you progress through your chosen barbering program.

A beauty school, on the other hand, does not always provide this type of comprehensive training in all of the areas that make up barbering. For instance, cosmetologists (unless also dual-certified in barbering) are not allowed to use a straight razor during cuts.

No matter what kind of school you decide to attend, it is important that you have a passion for what you do. 

Barbering and cosmetology are both social career choices; they will require you to be outgoing and understanding when you consult with your clients.

What Can I Expect From Barber School Curriculum?

For most people, this is the convincing part because the curriculum is all about what you can expect to learn, while enrolled in barber school.

Effectively, these are the areas where you are able to have real, hands-on training to learn a variety of skills in different areas..

Most barber school curriculums include classes in the following eight areas:

  • Hygiene and Sanitation: Your responsibility to your clients doesn’t just stop at aesthetics and experience – it, without a doubt, includes safety. These courses include: sanitizing, disinfecting, and sterilizing procedures.
  • Related Sciences & General Knowledge: Study of the basic sciences including physiology of the hand, arm, head, and face, applying to areas which barber work is done.
  • Shaving: Students learn the fundamentals of shaving, positions and strokes and the application of these fundamentals are practiced through preparation of the patron’s face
  • Barber Chemistry: Specialized subject in chemistry of cosmetic products used in the barber field. Includes studying the basic theory of molecular structure, simple organic chemistry, and the application of various compounds to cold waving, hair relaxers, chemical processing, shampoos, rinses, dyes, and various hair preparations
  • Shop Management: Designed for persons interested in managing and owning a salon. Topics included are: local, state and federal regulations, mathematics, accounting and taxes, inventory control, customer relations, salesmanship, advertising, record-keeping, and equipment and time utilization
  • Salesmanship and Product Knowledge: What about after the appointment? Your attitude is everything.
  • Hairstyling: Study in styling hair, shampooing, hair design, scalp massage, curling, brushing and combing, reconditioning hair, thermal pressing, iron curling, and hairpiece fitting and care
  • Haircutting: Fundamentals in haircutting for both male and female. Important steps for a complete basic haircut. Procedures for cutting hair with clippers, shears, and razors. Manipulative skills are developed in correct methods of razor and scissor hair Shaping

How Long Is Barber School?

If you are currently working or have some other obligation that will not allow you to focus solely on school, then you are likely closer to a year-and-a-half of attending school on a limited, part-time basis. If you are able to commit to going to classes on a full-time basis, you can expect to go for at least six to nine months, if not longer.

Each barber school is slightly different in terms of its time requirements, but the BLS indicates that most full-time programs take nine months or more to complete. Check your state requirements and regulations before committing to a school!

Though the focus has been predominantly on going to barber or any technical school after graduating from high school, some high schools do offer this type of training for students who already know that barbering is their career path.

What Are Barber School Requirements?

When it comes to what you need to do before even thinking about beginning barber school, every state has its own requirements.

Make sure you meet these two minimum requirements before taking the time to enroll in a barber school to ensure that you will not run into any obstacles when seeking admittance or licensing after graduating.

These are the only two qualifications you need to meet:

  • You must be at least 16 years of age.
  • You must have graduated from high school or have an equivalent diploma or degree—unless you’re in a program offered by a high school, as we mentioned previously.

Most schools require you to prove that you meet their minimum requirements.

To do so, barber schools typically request a state-issued picture identification, such as a driver’s license or a state ID.

High school graduation or its equivalent can often be shown by providing a copy of your diploma, your GED (General Education Development or General Education Diploma), or if you cannot locate either, your high school transcripts.

Some barber schools also require that you submit letters of recommendation or personal essays (either written or video) with your application—while others want you to take aptitude tests or answer additional questions about your education and experience.

Each school's requirements are different, so take the time to research the requirements of the school you want to attend..

Additionally, if you’re applying for financial aid to help you cover the costs of school, you will may need your tax forms from prior years—or your parent’s tax information, if you’re underage. Though it is unlikely you should have to hand these types of forms over to the school because the application process now occurs online through FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

How Do I Pick The Best Barber School For Me?

Deciding which school to attend, no matter what the area of study, involves looking at a lot of factors that affect you personally. 

Ideally, you want to select a school that is reputable for turning out good students, thus making you more marketable after graduation.

No clue where to start?

That’s okay, we’re done the homework and hand-selected the top barber schools in the game for you already.

Here are some factors to consider and ask the school before beginning the application process.

  • The student-teacher ratio: The smaller this ratio is, the more one-on-one time you will get with your instructors, which can be beneficial if you are struggling in a certain area or learn best from individual instruction.
  • Graduation rate: Check out the number of students who are able to successfully complete the program to give you a better idea of how successfully the school is able to teach and how difficult the classes are to pass.
  • Affordability: Ask yourself whether you can afford that particular cosmetology school based on your income and budget. Be sure to include any dues that you are able to obtain via financial aid—which we will talk more about in a minute.
  • After-graduation placement services: If a cosmetology school offers assistance with placing you after graduation, this can help increase the likelihood of gaining employment as soon as you are licensed and able to work in the field.

What Does It Take To Be A Successful Barber Student?

What qualities does a successful barber student possess?

Choosing a barber school, applying, and beginning classes are only half the equation. Once you’re admitted to barber school there are a few key factors in making sure you’re successful when you’re there.

Superb People Skills: As a barber, your livelihood (aka your paycheck) is based on your ability to create and sustain repeat clients. This requires knowing how to best interact with your audience while providing great service. Be a good listener, withhold judgment, and appear genuine.

Continuous Learning: Not only does becoming a barber require a passion for the initial learning of the trade, but being inquisitive throughout one’s career is important when it comes to keeping up with all of the latest fads and trends.

Good Physical Stamina: You’re probably going to be standing ALL DAY. While your client is in the chair you’ll be moving around them to provide the perfect cut. You’ll be moving to the wash bowl mixing color, changing tools, and be moving non-stop. While this isn’t rigorous exercise, it can be tiring after a 9 hour day.


Know Your Audience: Have you ever met a service professional who was so positive and upbeat that it made you smile at the mere thought of them…or one who was so bubbly you had a headache just thinking about them? Get to know who’s sitting in your chair.

Do they want to talk about sports, the latest trends, or just relax in quiet- think about these things to make your clients so comfortable they come back time and time again.

This will ensure repeat business.

How Much Does Barber School Cost?

Barber school is just like any other postsecondary school in that you are expected to pay for your learning materials and tuition. Community colleges and private technical schools offer barbering programs, but at significantly different costs. According to the Education Cost Helper, the average tuition ranges from $2,000 to more than $11,000, with the actual amount depending largely on whether the school is public or private.  

  • For example: On the higher end of the scale, at Dayton Barber College in Ohio, a private technical school, tuition is more than $11,000 for a 1,800 hour course, including books and fees. On the lower end of the scale, Atlas Barber College in New York City charges about $2,500 for a 17-week course, including books and fees.

Fortunately for you, the Higher Education Opportunity Act requires all post-secondary institutions to publish a net price calculator on their websites to make it easier to find out up front what it will cost.

Here’s a helpful tip—ask about having to purchase supplies from specific vendors beforehand, so you can budget accordingly for all of your educational needs.

Depending on which barber school you choose, you may be required to purchase these types of items from specific vendors. These supplies could include acquiring standard barber tools, as well as frocks and aprons.

Are There Any Grants Or Scholarships To Help Combat The Price Of Barber School?

Like we mentioned about, make sure you complete your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)! FAFSA Financial Aid can include grants, work-study, and loans.

Check the school you plan on attending.

 Many barber schools offer their own grants and scholarships. When you apply for your barber program, there will likely be a second application for financial aid, or you may be able to indicate your interest in scholarships and grants on the primary application. Ask the school's admissions office about the procedure for getting school-specific financial aid.

Contact Professional Organizations.

  • Several professional associations are available for barbers and cosmetologists, and they either sponsor scholarship funds for aspiring barbers or they list information about available scholarships and grants. For example, the American Association of Cosmetology Schools has information for several scholarships and grants for barber students on its website.

Search Scholarship Directories.

  • Scholarship directories like Fast Web and Big Future by the College Board include grant opportunities for barber schools. Search these directories to find funding opportunities such as  the the Alice Madden Barton Scholarship program,  which can be awarded to students entering barber school.

Can I Take Barber School Online?

While some schools do offer online barber classes, individual state licensing requirements may prohibit you from getting your license—if you choose to take this approach. This should be obvious, as a majority of cosmetology training is conducted via hands-on experience. In-classroom work enables the instructors to better evaluate student skills and techniques to offer more constructive advice.

What Comes After Graduation?

Once you graduate from barber school, as we mentioned you must apply for your license. Each state has different requirements, so make sure to check with the licensing board in your particular state of residence to find out exactly what steps you must take next.

Be prepared to pay a licensing fee. The fee amount differs by state.

After you obtain your license and accept a position in a barbershop, or if you decide to rent your own space, your employer may or may not provide you with barber insurance to protect your career. And, if your employer does provide you with liability insurance, you cannot always assume you are 100% covered.

So, why carry your own professional liability insurance policy? Having this type of liability insurance can protect you in the event a client suffers a mishap while in your care. There are more than 5,000 beauty and barbering-related emergency room visits every year, which makes carrying the right insurance of the upmost importance.

For more information on how you can protect your career, while in school and after graduation, click here.