What Can You Learn Today?

The Better Barber

by Felix Armstrong

Do you have what it takes to be a barber? Like most things, the key is to really want it and then go get it! But what you may not know is that, beyond its initial training, barbering asks ongoing development from those who study the craft. Beyond its being a requirement, continuing education is an opportunity to make yourself a true competitor in the barber shop community.

First, you must ensure that barbering is at the heart of what you want to do. Cosmetology is an overlapping but different trade. Barbering unapologetically focuses on hair cuts and trims for men, but includes some skin services as well. Cosmetology is much broader in scope and caters to both genders, perhaps favoring services for women. While it is possible to be licensed for both, in general one chooses a focus and pursues training in only that one. The good news for the aspiring barber is that we live in a time when it is once again desirable for men to have not only a coiffed 'do, but in some cases also an enviable beard or 'stache as well.

Once you have chosen to pursue barbering, the next decision is where to obtain your education. Depending on your location and your means, you may choose to train through a barber college, community college, technical school, or even some cosmetology schools. The important thing is to check that the school's program is accredited with the state and that it will assist you in accomplishing each requirement along the way to becoming licensed.

The requirements for being licensed as a barber vary from state to state but include the same general subject matter: haircuts and styles, shaving, hygiene and sanitation, owning or managing a barber shop, product knowledge, etc. Typically, the road to becoming a barber follows this general path:

  • Complete barber college or an approved training program.
  • Apply for a barber license, certificate, endorsement, or similar.
  • Pass a licensing exam.
  • Become a practicing barber.
  • Renew your license according to state requirements.

It is that last step which many often forget. After barber college, exams, licensing, and finally launching your career, there is continuing education to think about as well. Depending on your state, the conditions for renewing your license will require additional courses of some kind. Continuing education often includes such topics as sanitation, safety, techniques, product knowledge, HIV/AIDS education, or  barbering laws. These courses may be obtained through a technical college, community college, cosmetology schools, or simply through workshops at a conference or trade show. It is also quite possible that a course you need may be available in a purely online format, again, depending on state requirements.

For the aspiring barber, the good news is that there is a clear path not only toward getting your license, but also toward honing your craft on an ongoing basis. If you're ready to get started, look for a barber college in your area.