Barber Schools and License Requirements in Washington, DC

The District of Columbia Department of Employment Services, Office of Labor Market Research and Information reported a total of 141 barbershop employees licensed in the District in 2012 – and this does not include the many shop owners and independent contractors. The Department projects there will be a 23 percent increase in the number of licenses issued in the District in the ten year period between 2012 and 2022 because of growing demand for men’s grooming services.

The D.C. Board of Barber and Cosmetology regulates the practice of barbering in Washington D.C. through barber licensure. To become a barber in Washington D.C., complete the steps detailed in this guide:

Complete a Formal Barber Program Recognized by the Board
Apply to Take the Barber Licensure Examinations
Take and Pass the Required Examinations for Barber Licensure
Renew your Barber License in Washington D.C.
Explore a Career in Barbering in Washington D.C.
Become a Barber Manager in Washington D.C.



Step 1. Complete a Formal Barber Program Recognized by the Board

To become a barber in Washington D.C., you must successfully complete a formal barber college program through a dedicated barber institution or school of cosmetology that consists of at least 1,500 study hours.

The Board also recognizes the completion of the required study hours under the supervision of a recognized apprenticeship program sponsor. You can view a list of approved apprenticeship program sponsors here.

Further, if you currently hold a cosmetology license in Washington D.C. and wish to pursue a barber license, you may qualify upon the completion of at least 500 hours of barber training.



Step 2. Apply to Take the Barber Licensure Examinations

Once you have completed the required education/training, you must apply to take the required barber license examinations through Pearson VUE by completing and submitting an Exam Scheduling Form and a New License Application, along with a check or money order in the amount of $230 (made payable to Pearson VUE). You may also obtain an application through

Your New License Application must include two, passport-size photos and it must be notarized. To qualify for a barber license in Washington D.C., you must be at least 18 years old and not have been convicted of any crimes of moral turpitude.

After your exam scheduling form has been reviewed, you can expect to receive an Authorization to Test notice to take the exam, which will include instructions on how to schedule your examination. If you do not receive this letter, you must contact the DC test administration unit at 202-442-4363.

Note: You must schedule and sit for your examination within 30 days or receiving the Authorization to Test letter.

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Step 3. Take and Pass the Required Examinations for Barber Licensure

Computerized examinations for the written portion of the barber license examination are administered on a monthly basis, while the practical examination is offered four times a year.

The Board utilizes the examinations of the National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology (NIC). You can learn more about the NIC national barber examinations here.



Step 4. Renew your Barber License in Washington D.C.

All D.C. barber licenses expire on September 30 of odd-numbered years. You can expect to receive a renewal notice in the mail about 3 months before your license expires. In addition to completing a renewal application, you must complete at least 6 continuing education credits during each two-year licensure period.

The Board requires that at least 2 of the 6 continuing education credits be in health, safety, and/or welfare, while the remaining 4 may be in general elective courses. Just a few of the topics you may choose to complete your continuing education credits in include:

  • Business
  • Product knowledge
  • District laws and regulations
  • Ethics and standards of professional practice
  • Infectious disease control

Continuing education may be obtained through classroom instruction, lectures, seminars, trade shows, online classes, and college/university classes, among others. Many barbers who plan to eventually open their own barber shop business are often best served by taking courses in areas such as business management and marketing.



Step 5. Explore a Career in Barbering in Washington D.C.

Barbers in Washington D.C. may work as employees of barbershops, salons, resorts, and hotels, while others may choose to work as independent contractors, renting booth space in a popular barbershop.

Your options for a career as a Washington D.C. barber are plentiful, as the following are just a sampling of the barbershops serving professionals in the nation’s capital:

  • The Grooming Lounge
  • Michael Craig Men’s Grooming
  • The Art of Shaving
  • Camillo Damiano Barber Shop
  • Bang Salon
  • Edge
  • Nantucket Hair Salon
  • The Barber Shop & Co.



Step 6. Become a Barber Manager in Washington D.C.

To become a licensed barber manager in Washington D.C. and thus manage a barbershop, you must successfully complete one of the following options:

  • 2,000 hours of training from an approved school, plus 6 months of continuous work experience
  • 1,500 hours of training from an approved school, plus 2 years of continuous work experience

If you want to become a barber manager without completing at least 2 years of work experience, you must complete an additional 500 hours of barber training through an approved school of barbering. Once you have accomplished the required education/experience, you may earn licensure as a barber manager in Washington D.C.

Barber Salaries in Washington, DC

While the median salary for barbers in Washington, DC is available from both the district and federal governments, these figures are on the low end. Customers that are happy with their service typically tip 10 to 25%, and official salary figures do not factor in these tips. Thus, the take home pay for barbers in the district will be substantially higher than what is reported here.

Median Salaries for Barbers in DC and the U.S.

Barbers in DC are very highly paid compared to barbers in the rest of the country. Their median salary for 2012 was more than $20,000 higher than the 2013 national median reported by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The median salary for barbers in the District of Columbia was $50,560 in 2012 according to the Dc.Gov Department of Employment Services (DEC). They obtained this value by studying the salaries of the 141 barbers who practiced in the district that year.

Rate of Increase in Jobs for Barbers in Washington, DC

The number of jobs for barbers in Washington, DC is growing much faster than in the rest of the country. The DEC expects the number of these jobs to increase by 23.4% in the ten-year period ending in 2022. This level of increase is nearly twice as high as that in the rest of the country.

There are two sources of jobs for barbers. One is those that are created by the increasing demand for the services of barbers. Such growth is expected to result in 33 new jobs for barbers over this ten-year period.

Additional jobs are created when barbers stop practicing, and new professionals fill these positions. This should generate 40 jobs during this time frame.

The BLS provides salary levels from 2013 for barbers in the metropolitan DC area for those with different levels of experience:

Area name
Annual mean wage
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria DC-VA-MD-WV
Estimate not released

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