Barber Salaries

Barber shops are slowing making a resurgence in America, and many say it’s because they are reinventing their services to appeal to today’s customers. According to the Small Business Development Center Network, the U.S. haircare services industry includes about 86,000 establishments with a combined revenue of about $20 billion. Of these establishments, about 4,000 are barbershops.

A Look at the Haircare Services Industry

The haircare services industry, says the Small Business Development Center Network, is one driven by demographics and population growth. While large players in this industry are often successful through their purchasing and marketing efforts, smaller companies often find success when they offer superior service and secure favorable locations.

Revenue growth in the haircare services industry is expected to increase at a rate of 3.2 percent to $58.7 billion by 2019. Industry profit is also expected to increase, rising from 1.9 percent in 2009 to 5.7 percent in 2014.

So, what will drive employment and salary growth for barbers in the United States? Industry statistics show that improving market conditions affect the number of industry operators, which then drives employment growth and higher salaries. In fact, employment in this industry is expected to sustain an annual rate of 3.8 percent, reaching 1.7 million employees through 2014.

Barber Salaries in the U.S.

With an industry ripe for job opportunities, salaries for barbers are expected to increase along with employment numbers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean, hourly salary for barbers in the U.S. is $13.32, or $27,710 per year, as of May 2013.

The top 10 percent earn more than $21.25 per hour, or $44,190 per year. There were 15,100 barbers employed in the U.S., as of May 2013, reported the BLS. The largest share of that number (14,330) was in personal care services.

It is important to realize, however, that barber salary statistics may be far from accurate, as the bulk of a barber’s salary may come in the form of tips, which are not always accurately reported. For example, a recent post in on a website aimed at helping barbers improve their business and become successful leaders in their communities reported that many barbers who possess “professionalism and a level of seriousness” often earn well over $70,000 a year.

While actual salaries for barbers are debatable, what is evident is that a number of factors likely affect the incomes of these haircare professionals.

Factors Affecting a Barber’s Salary

While a barber’s salary ultimately depends on the work performed and the tips received, a number of other factors play a part in a barber’s bottom line:

Demographics

Unlike other professions where salaries are greatly influenced by the area of the country in which they work, according to BLS statistics, barber salaries are quite consistent throughout the U.S.

Barbers in Illinois, according to the BLS, earned the highest annual salary, as of May 2013, at $44,480, followed by Minnesota at $41,050, Colorado at $40,730, and Alaska at $37,180.

While the salaries for many professions are consistent with the cost of living in a particular city or state, barber salaries appear to be similar, regardless of the area in which they work. In fact, the cost of living appears to have little effect on a barber’s income. For example, in states like California, where the cost of living is much higher than other areas of the country, barbers earn an average, annual salary of just $25,210, far less than in states like Texas, which has a lower cost of living that many states, where they earn an average of $29,580 a year.

Salaries for barbers at the metropolitan level also do not appear to be consistent with the cost of living. The top paying metropolitan areas for barbers, as of May 2013, included:

  • Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minnesota-Wisconsin: $41,460
  • Wichita Falls, Texas: $38,420
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: $33,570
  • Kansas City, Missouri-Kansas: $29,470
  • Louis, Missouri-Illinois: $28,940
  • Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas: $28,300
  • Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, Texas: $28,030
  • Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Washington: $27,960
  • Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, Iowa-Illinois: $27,720

Pay Structure

Pay structure often affects a barber’s bottom line in terms of income. Most barbers new to the profession work as either employees of a hair salon, where they earn an hourly salary with tips or a commission-based income. A typical commission split for barbers is 60/40, with the barber earning 60 percent of the services provided and the barbershop earning 40 percent. Many times, barbershops will also split the sale of any products the barber has made, thus providing them with an incentive to push retail sales.

However, barbers with experience and a list of steady clients often make the transition to working as independent contractors, choosing instead to rent space in a barber shop. Called “booth rental,” barbers that work as independent contractors pay the barbershop a weekly or monthly fee to rent space in their barber shop and keep all earnings for themselves. This type of arrangement allows barbers to earn higher salaries as long as they maintain customer traffic, while allowing barbershops to bring in a steady income each month, regardless of customer traffic.

Experience/Skill

Ultimately, it is skill and experience that drives a barber’s income. Skilled barbers who perform precise cuts, close shaves, and great customer service will see repeat customers and plenty of customer referrals. A loyal clientele is what allows a barber’s business to flourish.

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