How to Become a Barber

What you’ll earn | Choosing a good school | Taking the exam | Career opportunities | Top five barber schools | Cosmetology boards listed by state

Becoming a barber – is it the right choice for you?

While a good barber can make a complicated job look easy, not everyone has what it takes to cut hair for a living. Being a barber requires a high level of commitment. Not only are you required to complete extensive training and register with your state cosmetology board, but you must also have the patience to work long hours while standing on your feet – and becoming a truly successful barber could take years of honing your craft and developing a clientele.

There are several good ways to determine whether or not hair cutting is the right career choice for you:

If you think you’ve got what it takes and decide to move forward with your plans to become a barber, you can take comfort in knowing that you’ll be in good company. Whether you’re renting a booth at someone else’s shop or opening up your own business, being a barber is an incredibly rewarding career that offers independence as well as financial security. Your skills as a barber will follow you wherever you go, and a loyal clientele will ensure a steady income.

What you’ll earn

In 2010, the median base salary for barbers in the United States was $27,977 a year. In addition to this base salary was nearly $13,000 in benefits including social security, 401k, healthcare, disability, pension, and time off (

Barber school

Choosing a good school will be one of the most important steps in starting your career as a barber. Not only will this education prepare you for the state required exam, but it will also provide you with a foundation of business and barbershop principles that will support you throughout your entire career.

Some barber schools will offer an Associate of Arts degree, while others will result in a certificate of completion. And whether you decide to go for a degree or a certificate, make sure you choose a school program that focuses on at least a few of the following areas:

Getting your license

Before getting set up in a barbershop and accepting your first clients, you’ll have to apply for a license from your state’s cosmetology board. Almost all cosmetology boards in the U.S. require you to take an examination before they will issue your license, and to be eligible for this exam you generally must posses a high school diploma, GED or proof of specialized training.

Taking the exam

Depending on what state you apply for your license in, this examination may include one or all of the following:

To learn more about your state’s cosmetology board or which school is right for you, check out the “Becoming a Barber Resources” located at the bottom of this article.

Start working and advance your career opportunities

Once you’ve made it through schooling and have completed your state examination, you’ll be ready to start applying for your own booth at a barbershop or even opening up your own business. Applying for a booth might involve a one or two day working interview during which your abilities will be evaluated, while opening your own barbershop will require researching potential locations for your storefront, writing a business plan and hiring well-qualified staff. As you perfect your skills and establish a healthy clientele, keep looking for ways to take your career in different directions. Many barbers move into management positions, become sales reps or even work as examiners on the state board. As a barber, you’ll have the power to move your career in any direction you want. And before you know it you’ll be a master – cutting hair with one hand and greeting customers with the other, all the while assessing their desire to engage in conversation. You will embody the essence of what it means to be a barber: flawless skills and happy customers.

Becoming a barber resources:

Top five barber schools in the U.S.


  1. Cincinnati School of Barbering and Hair Design
  2. Borners Barber College
  3. Ohio State College of Barber Design
  4. Woody’s hair Styling School
  5. Trend Barber College


Cosmetology boards listed by state:


Board of Cosmetology: 100 N. Union St., #320 Montgomery, AL 36130 (334) 242-1918


Division of Occupational 
Licensing Board of Barber & Hairdressers: 
P.O. Box 110806 
Juneau, AK 99811-0806 (
907) 465-2547


State Board of Cosmetology
: 1721 E. Broadway Rd.
Tempe, AZ 85282 
(480) 784-4539


State Board of Cosmetology:
 101 F. Capital, Ste. 108
Little Rock, AR 72201 
(501) 682-2168


Barbering & Cosmetology Program: 
P.O. Box 944226 
Sacramento, CA 94244-2260 
(800) 952-5210


Office of Barber and Cosmetologist Licensing
: 1560 Broadway, #1340 
Denver, CO 80202 
(303) 894-7772


Dept. of Public Health Cosmetology & Licensing: 410 Capitol Ave., MS #12 APP P.O. Box 340308 Hartford, CT 06134 (860) 509-7569


Dept. of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs 
Board of Barbering & Cosmetology: 
1100 4th Street, SW
Suite 500E
Washington, DC 20024 
(202) 442-4320


Board of Cosmetology & Barbering: Canon Building #203 P.O. Box 1401 Dover, DE 19903 (800) 273-9500


Dept. of Business & Professional Regulation
: 1940 N. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399 
(850) 487-1395


State Board of Cosmetology: 
237 Coliseum Drive
Macon, GA 31217 (
478) 207-1430


Dept. of Commerce & Consumer Affairs Board of Cosmetology: 1010 Richards St. P.O. Box 3469 Honolulu, HI 96801 (808) 586-3000


Board of Cosmetology
Barbers - Cosmetologists 
Bureau of Occupational Licenses
: Owyhee Plaza
1109 Main St, Suite 220
Boise ID 83702 
(208) 334-3233


Dept. of Professional Regulation 
Barber & Cosmetology: 
320W. Washington St., 
3rd FIr.
Springfield, IL 62786 (
217) 782-8556


Professional Licensing Agency
 Barbers & Cosmetology
: 402 W. Washington St., Room W072 
Indianapolis, IN 46204 (
317) 232-2980


Dept. of Public Health
Barber - Cosmetology 
Board of Cosmetology Arts & Sciences
 Professional Licensure: 
Lucas Bldg., 5th Floor
 321 E. 12th Street
Des Moines, IA 50319


State Board of Cosmetology
: 714 S.W. Jackson 
Topeka, KS 66617
 (785) 296-3155


State Board of Hairdressers & Cosmetologists: 111 St. James Court Frankfort, Kentucky, 40601 (502) 564-4262


State Board of Cosmetology: 11622 Sunbelt Ct. Baton Rouge, LA 70809 (225) 756-3404


State Board of Barbering & Cosmetology: 
State House Sta. 35
Augusta, ME 04333
(207) 624-8637


State Board of Cosmetologists
: 500 N. Calvert Street Room 307
 Baltimore, Maryland 21202 
(410) 230-6320


Division of Professional Licensure:
1000 Washington Street
Suite 710
 Boston, MA 02118 
(617) 727-9940


Bureau of Commercial Services 
Barber Examiners
: P.O. Box 30018 
Lansing, MI 48909 (517) 241-9201


Board of Barbers and Cosmetology Examiners
: 2829 University Avenue SE Suite 710 
Minneapolis, MN 55414
 (612) 617-2600


Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners:
 3605 Missouri Boulevard
 P.O. Box 1062 
Jefferson City, MO 65102 
(573) 751-1052


Department of Labor and Industry 
Board of Cosmetologists
: 301 South Park
 P.O. Box 200513 
Helena, MT 59620 
(406) 841-2333


Dept. of Health & Human Services 
Regulation & Licensure Credentialing Division
: P.O. Box 94986
 Lincoln, NE 68509 (
402) 471-2117


State Board of Cosmetology
: 1785 EAST Sahara Ave., #255
 Las Vegas, NV 89104 (
702) 486-6542


State Board of Barbering, Cosmetology and Esthetics: 2 Industrial Park Dr. Concord, NH 03301 (603) 271-3608


Board of Cosmetology & Hairstyling
: P.O. Pox 45003 
Newark, NJ 07101 
(973) 504-6400


Board of Barbers & Cosmetologists: 
P.O. Box 25101
Santa Fe, NM 87504 
(505) 476-4690


Dept. of State Division of Licensing Services
: 84 Holland Ave.
Albany, NY 12208 
(518) 474-4429


Board of Cosmetology
: 1201 Front St #110
 Raleigh, NC 27609 
(919) 733-4117


Board of Cosmetology: 1102 S. Washington St. Bismarck, ND 58504 (701) 224-9800


State Board of Cosmetology
: 1929 Gateway Circle
 Grove City, OH 43123 
(614) 466-3834


State Board of Cosmetology: 2401 Northwest 23rd Street #84 Oklahoma City OK 73107 (405) 521-2441


Board of Barbers & Hairdressers Health Division Licensing Programs: 700 Summer St. N.E., #320 Salem, OR 97310 (503) 378-8667


State Board of Barber Examiners 
: P.O. Box 2649 
Harrisburg, PA 17105 
(717) 783-7130


Dept. of Health, Division of Hairdressing & Barbering: Rm. 104 3 Capitol Hill Providence, RI 02908 (401) 277-2827


Board of Cosmetology: 
P.O. Box 11329
 Columbia, SC 29211
(803) 896-4494


Cosmetology Commission: 500 E. Capitol Pierre, SD 57501 (605) 773-6193


Board of Cosmetology
 Barber Examiners
: 500 James Robertson Pkwy. 
Nashville, TN 37243 (615) 741-2515


Department of Licensing and Regulation: P.O. Box 26700 
Austin, TX 78755 (512) 380-7600


Division of Occupational & Professional Licensing Board of Cosmetology: 160 East, 300 South P.O. Box 45805 Salt Lake City, UT 84145 (801) 530-6628


Board of Barbers and Cosmetologists: 26 Terrace Street Drawer 09 Montpelier, VT 05609 (802) 828-2191


Dept. of Professional Occupation & Regulation Board of Cosmetology
: 3600W. Broad St.
Richmond, VA 23230 
(804) 367-8509


Dept. of Licensing Professional Licensing Services
 Cosmetology: Section
 405 Blacklake Blvd.
 P.O. Box 9026 
Olympia, WA 98507 
(360) 664-6626


Board of Barbers & Cosmetologists: 
1201 Dunbar Avenue
Dunbar WV 25064
 (304) 558-2924


Dept. of Regulations & Licensing 
Barbering & Cosmetology Examining Board
: P.O. Box 8935
Madison, WI 53708
 (608) 266-5511 (608) 266-2112


Board of Cosmetology: 
2515 Warren Ave., Ste. 302
Cheyenne, WY 8200| 
(307) 777-3534