Barbers Overview

Employment levels for barbers are expected to grow much faster than other occupations. Though qualifications vary by state, most barbers, cosmetologists, and personal appearance workers are required to have a license in the field. Many barbers have flexible schedules and 44 percent are self-employed.

Nature of the Work for Barbers

The job of a barber is to provide hair care services to the client in order to enhance their appearance.

Their job includes shampooing, trimming, cutting and styling hair. Some barbers will offer scalp treatments, fit hairpieces and provide face shaving for a clientele consisting mostly of men. They can also offer treatments for your nails and skin.

Barbers may be licensed to bleach, color, and highlight hair in certain states with the appropriate licensing.

Along with these duties, barbers who own or operate their own salon may perform managerial duties. These duties can include hiring, firing, supervising inventory as well as advertising arrangements and ordering supplies.

A 40 hour workweek is common unless self-employed, which may mean longer hours. Since salons are busiest during the evenings and weekends, barbers must be prepared to work during those times. For barbers who are self-employed, flexible schedules and creating their own schedules may occur.

The work environment for a barber usually involves working in clean and pleasant surroundings with good lighting and ventilation. Though some barbers can work in a spa or hotel, most barbers work in a barbershop or salon.

Since barbers are on their feet most of the day, good stamina and energy is required to perform efficiently. Protective clothing, gloves, and aprons are available for use when exposure to some hair chemicals will take place.

Training, Other Qualifications and Advancement for Barbers

In order to practice, barbers must obtain a license. In order to qualify for this license, one must graduate from a barbering school that is state-licensed.

A full time program for a barber usually lasts around 9 months and can eventually lead to an associates degree. Though attending a state-licensed barbering school is mandatory for a barber, many take optional classes to keep up with trends as well as classes in sales and marketing.

Even though qualifications vary, all barbers must be licensed. Qualifications usually include a high school diploma or GED, you must be 16 years of age, and must have graduated from a state-licensed barbering school. After graduation, in order to become a barber, one must take a State licensing examination consisting of a written test or in some cases a practical or oral examination on styling skills. In some states, barbers and cosmetology licenses are combined. An initial fee is often required for testing and renewed testing can occur.

Reciprocity agreements exist in some states allowing barbers to obtain a license in a different state than they originally took the test. If you wish to work in a different state than the state you took the exam, you should check the laws of that state for exact rules.

Personal appearance and a clean work area are important qualifications for a barber. One’s image and interpersonal skills help barbers to become successful. Having a steady clientele and using sales techniques are also important qualifications for a barber. Some barbers also find it important to be up to date and knowledgeable of art, fashion and technical designs.

Business skills are also extremely important, especially for barbers who own their own business.

As barbers become more skillful and gain more clientele, they can earn more money in their career. Once a barber has worked a number of years, many tend to manage salons or even open their own salons. Some barbers even teach at barbering school or use their sales skills to become sales representative in a related field.

Employment and Job Outlook for Barbers

Barbers hold about 10,550 jobs. Most barbers as well as other personal appearance workers are employed in salons, barber shops, and resort spas. Jobs for barbers exist in populous cities even though nearly ever town has a barbershop.

Many barbers are self-employed and either own a salon or lease their own booth space from a salon. When barbers choose to become self-employed, they take on paying for supplies, taxes, and benefits. If they are renting a chair or booth, they may pay a weekly or monthly fee to the salon.

Employment for barbers is set to increase 12 percent more than other occupations. Though working in high-end establishments will always mean heavy competition, many entry-level job opportunities should be available with this employment increase. A population increase will be the main reason jobs will be available as well as baby boomers and younger people looking for specialty services such as hair coloring and hair treatments.

Barbers who are licensed and looking for entry-level work will have many job opportunities due to other barbers who have retired, left the occupation or left that particular location. Yet for those looking to work in higher-end and higher paying salons, the competition is still extremely difficult.

Earnings and Salary for Barbers

Median hourly wages for barbers, including tips, are $11.61. The middle 50 percent earn between $9.39 and $15.13. The lowest 10 percent earn less than $7.90, and the highest 10 percent earn more than $20.48.

Factors affecting one’s income include the size and location of the salon as well as if they are entry-level or have experience. While barbers can either be on commission or salary, some salons offer bonuses to barbers who bring in a lot of business.

Unlike barbers who work in a salon and may receive benefits and paid vacations, barbers who are unemployed do not receive such benefits. Some barbers receive free products from manufacturers in hopes that they will tell clients to use and purchase the product.

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