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How to Become a Barber

You’re interested in becoming a barber. You’ve always been interested in the latest men’s hairstyles and helping guys look their best with a haircut. If you think the barbering profession is right for you, but you don’t know where to start, here are the basics in how to become a barber:

1. Do Some Research and Investigating

What better way to learn how to become a professional barber than talking to or interviewing one? Look around at local barbershops or visit ones you love or are interested in. Chat with the barber as you’re getting your own hair cut and styled. Ask him or her about schooling, what makes a great barber, the nature of the job and what a typical day is like.

It is also a good idea to visit the barber shop multiple times to observe what goes on and how the barber conducts his or herself and what tasks they do. Be sure to visit the shop during both slow and busy times as well as regular times. By going at different times will give you an idea of whether or not you can handle all the demands, especially during the busy, peak times.

This research and investigation are great opportunities to see first-hand the nature and everyday tasks and responsibilities of being a barber. Take a notepad or your cellphone to take notes and to jot down your thoughts, questions and observations.

2. Get an Idea of Your Ideal Clientele

Do you want to be the neighborhood barber where locals come to catch up with each other or their favorite sports team or do you aspire to be more of a hair artist in an upscale salon treating the rich and famous? Your ideal clientele can tell you a lot about the shape of your barbering career. Working in a regular barber shop will likely mean you’ll be a lot of basic cuts and trims. Employment in a high-end salon will likely open up opportunities for you to be artistic and establish your own creative styling.

Your desired clientele will also dictate where you’ll practice. Young clientele interested in fashionable, edgy looks will likely live in the city while the local mechanic or school teacher may be located outside of the big city.

Getting an idea of your ideal working environment, your personal barbering career aspirations, your preferred clientele and location are things to consider when deciding whether or not a barbering career is for you, and if it is, which barbering program to attend and what state to be licensed in.

3. Do Some Self-Reflection

While the research and interviewing may excite you, it is important to realize that barbering isn’t for anyone. There is more to being a great barber than knowing how to handle trimmers and straight razors. Barbers do a lot of repetitive, sometimes monotonous and unpleasant tasks such as sweeping, sterilizing equipment and operating the front desk. As mentioned earlier, you’ll have slow times as well as busy times. The barber shop doesn’t always have a calm, relaxing, laid-back atmosphere. It can be chaotic and rushed, and depending on where you work, you’ll have high expectations to meet, which can make the work stressful. In addition, barbering is physically demanding, requiring barbers to be on their feet all day, something not everyone can handle.

Barbers, like many professionals in the cosmetology field are to be personable in addition to being professional. Getting one’s hair cut and styled is a personal experience that can also be stressful for clients. As a barber, you need to be friendly and welcoming, knowing how to start and carry on a conversation with every individual client. You’ll also likely get regular customers to build relationships with. Building a good report with clients will not only make them more comfortable and at ease, but it will make your job more enjoyable. If you’re not super outgoing, friendly or personable or you aren’t comfortable meeting or talking to people, barbering may not be a good fit for you.

4. Attend Barber College

There are numerous barber colleges and certification programs out there. Some are affordable while others are more of a financial investment. While some barber college programs last 1.5 to 2 years, some certification programs can be as short as six months. Consider the cost and duration of the barbering program. While schools vary on their entrance requirements, most require a high school diploma.

Consider your barbering career aspirations. For instance, if you want to own your own barbershop or become a high-demand independent stylist, a more comprehensive program at a certified, well-regarded barber college would be a better option over an inexpensive, condensed certification program at a community college. Barber colleges have many advantages over certification programs including hours of hands-on training in an on-campus hair salon and cutting and styling hair on real clients, and specialized training for the state barber license certification exam.

5. Take the Certification Exam and Get Licensed

You can only practice barbering if you’re licensed by the state you’re working in. After completing your barbering schooling (a requirement to sit for the licensing exam in most states), you’ll have to take and pass the required licensing exams for the state you are or want to practice in. Each state requires a licensing exam to be passed in order to barber. The exams, however, vary by state, with some only requiring aspiring barbers to pass a state certification test and others requiring would-be barbers to pass both the state and national certification tests. Be sure to know what the requirements are beforehand for the state you want to be a barber in.

6. You’ve Made It

After getting your barbering license, you have many career possibilities including working at a barber shop either on commission, as an employee or by renting a chair, opening and running your own barber shop, work at a spa or be a freelance or personal barber-stylist. At this point, the world is your oyster and you can take your barbering career wherever you want.

As a barber, it is a good idea to take regular professional development courses to keep your skills and techniques current and to help keep you in high demand. Some states require barbers to renew their licenses every year or two sometime with or without taking an examination. After you get licensed, it is a good idea to know if and when your barbering license expires and what the renewal process is.

If you decide to move to another state, you’ll have to sit for the licensing examination for that new state, so it is a good ideas to continue learning and developing your skills.

If you’ve ever asked yourself ‘what do I need to become a barber?,’ you’re not alone. Before looking at barber colleges, talk to professional barbers, visit barber shops and do some inward self-examination to see if the barbering profession is right for you. To become a practicing barber, you’ll need to graduate from a certified barber college or barber certification course and take and pass your state’s licensing examination.

Boise Barber College is the exclusive barber school in Idaho. In a short seven months, our students are ready to sit for the Idaho barber licensing examination. Our students are taught by some of the best barbers and use the best and latest equipment. If barbering is the right career for you, contact us at Boise Barber College and let us help you become that professional barber you’ve always dreamed of becoming.