Barber Schools and License Requirements in Iowa

Barbershops in Iowa consist mostly of small, local, individually owned shops, where the barber gets to control the atmosphere and culture of the shop. Based on a growing demand for barbering services in the state, The Iowa Workforce Development expects the number of licensed barbers to grow by 2.3% each year between 2012 and 2022, meaning an overall growth of 23% during the decade. This means there is great opportunity for aspiring barbers who want to open their own local shop.

Before you dive into the world of professional barbering, you will first need to be licensed through the Iowa Board of Barbering. This Board establishes the education and exam requirements for barbers, barber instructors, and barbershops throughout the state.

For a guide on how to become a barber in Iowa, follow these steps:

Complete a Minimum of 2100 Hours of Barber Training
Pass the Initial National Theory Licensing Examination
Submit an Application for the Practical Exam and the Iowa Barber License
Pass the Final Iowa Licensing Practical Examination
Begin your Career as a Licensed Barber in Iowa
Complete Continuing Education to Renew your Iowa Barber License



Step 1. Complete a Minimum of 2100 Hours of Barber Training

Your first step toward an Iowa barbering license is graduating from a barber training school. The Iowa Board of Barbering requires that your school provide at least 2100 hours of training.

This training must be split between theory and practical training, meeting the following Board requirements:

Theory, Demonstrations, and Lectures – 380 hours

  • Law, Ethics, Economics, Equipment, Shop Management
  • History of Barbering
  • Sanitation
  • Bacteriology
  • Chemistry
  • Facials, Shaving, Honing and Stropping, Haircutting and Styling

Practical Instruction – 1675 hours

  • Scalp Care and Shampooing
  • Shaving
  • Facials, Massage and Packs
  • Science of Hair Structure
  • Haircutting
  • Hair Tonics
  • Hair Relaxing
  • Hair Coloring and Processing
  • Hair Styling
  • Fitting of Hairpieces
  • Manicuring
  • Waxing

Oftentimes, your barber school will offer advanced education. Taking advanced education courses once you are working as a licensed barber will help you satisfy continuing education requirements, while also allowing you to learn more barbering services. The more services you are able to provide, the more earning potential you have as a barber.

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Step 2. Pass the Initial National Theory Licensing Examination

Your next step is passing the national theory barber examination. Before you register for and take thee examinations, you will want to read the Iowa Board of Barbering – Important Exam Information form. You must pass two exams in order to be eligible for the Iowa barber license: the national theory and national practical examination. You must first pass the theory examination in order to be eligible to take the practical examination.

National Theory Examination

The Iowa Board of Barbering Theory Examination is a computer-based, multiple-choice exam administered by PSI Services. To register, you will want to schedule and pay your $55 exam fee directly to PSI. You will have 90 minutes to take this exam, which will cover the following barber subjects:

  • Bacteriology
  • Methods of Infection Control
  • Tools, Implements, and Equipment
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Chemistry
  • Electricity and Light
  • Skin Histology
  • Hair and Scalp Services
  • Facial Treatments
  • Shaving Procedures and Facial Hair Design
  • Hair Care Services
  • Client Consultation

Once you pass this examination, your scores will be sent directly to the Board.

This exam is offered in the following Iowa locations:

  • Council Bluffs
  • West Des Moines
  • Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Area

You must pass this exams with a score of 70% or higher.



Step 3. Submit an Application for the Practical Exam and the Iowa Barber License

Now that you have passed the national theory examination, you may submit an application for your Iowa barber license and practical examination. To do so, all you will need to do is submit the following information and materials to the Iowa Board:

This application must be received by the Board at least 5 days before you plan to take the practical examination. Once your application is approved, you will be eligible to take the national practical examination.


To be eligible for license by endorsement you must have held a barber license for at least 12 of the preceding 24 months in any state or country. Along with your application for barbering, you will need to submit a certification of licensure from your previous licensing Board.

You may submit all application and endorsement materials to the Board at the following address:

Iowa Board of Barbering
Iowa Department of Public Health
Bureau of Professional Licensure
Lucas State Office Building, 5th Floor
321 East 12th Street
Des Moines, IA 50319-0075



Step 4. Pass the Final Iowa Licensing Practical Examination

The final examination is the practical exam, which is administered directly by the Iowa Board. The Board offers the practical Board exam at least 4 times a year, generally in January, April, July, and October at the American College of Hairstyling. You will need to pay a $75 examination fee for this exam. For this exam, you will need to bring your own kit, supplies, a live model, and a mannequin. You will be graded on your ability to perform the following barbering services:

  • Set Up and Client Protection
  • Shaving with a straight Razor
  • Haircutting
  • Chemical Waving
  • Hair Lightening/Coloring
  • Chemical Relaxing
  • Blood Spill Procedures

About 14 days after taking this exam, you will receive written notification from the Board if you have passed. As soon as you pass this final exam, the Board will issue your barbering license within 5 business days.



Step 5. Begin your Career as a Licensed Barber in Iowa

Once you obtain your Iowa barber license, you will be able to look for jobs at local barbershops, or you may even open your own barbershop! Some of the most well loved shops in Iowa include these locations in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids:

  • Hilltop Barber Shop – Des Moines
  • Dave’s Barber and Stylists – Des Moils
  • Christopher’s Fine Hair Cuts – Cedar Rapids
  • Virgil Janices Barbershop – Cedar Rapids
  • Roosevelt Barber Shop – Des Moines

If you want to open your own shop, the Iowa Board of Barbering requires that you obtain a barbershop license. To do so, you must submit an application for a barbershop license at least 30 days prior to your planned opening date. Apply by completing the following steps:



Step 6. Complete Continuing Education to Renew your Iowa Barber License

You will need to renew your barber license and your barbershop license by June 30th every two years, on even-numbered years. You may renew up to 60 days before your license expires.

During your first licensing cycle, you will not need to complete any continuing education to renew. However, after your first renewal, you will need to start completing at least 8 credits of continuing education during every two-year licensing cycle.

This education should be regarding Iowa barbering laws, administrative rules, and sanitation. From each continuing education course, you should receive a certificate of completion detailing the course title, date(s), course hours, and sponsor and licensee’s name. Keep these certificates of completion for 4 years in case the Iowa Board audits your education.

After you complete this continuing education, you may renew your license and submit your renewal fee online.

Barber Salaries in Iowa

The salaries of barbers in Davenport were exceptionally high in 2013. These professionals had the ninth highest average salary of barbers in any city in the country according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Barber salaries in Iowa by city:

Des Moines – $38,000
Cedar Rapids – $38,000
Davenport – $41,000
Sioux City – $41,000

Salaries for Experienced and Entry-Level Barbers in Iowa

The amount of experience has a great deal of effect on the salaries of barbers, since those that are highly experienced are better able to provide the services their clients are seeking and thus earn higher salaries. Barbers in Iowa who were experienced earned nearly 1.5 times more than those were new to the profession according to Iowa Workforce Development (IWD).

The average salary for barbers in Iowa in the 90th bracket was $30,285, while those in the 10th bracket earned $20,488 a year on average. This entry-level salary for barbers in Iowa was higher than the national average, though. These professionals made 18% more on average than their colleagues in the rest of the country.

Barbers in Iowa had even higher income levels than those reported here since these types of salary statistics do not factor in tips. The standard tip of 10 to 25% adds substantially to the take home pay levels of barbers.

Employment Levels and Job Growth for Iowa’s Barbers

Four hundred barbers practiced in Iowa in 2012. Their numbers are predicted to increase by 2.3% a year according to IWD. This should result in 22 new jobs for barbers in Iowa on average each year through 2022. Half of these will be from growth in men’s hair care and tonsorial artistry while the other half will be replacement positions generated as barbers leave the field.

The BLS provides a breakdown on the salaries of barbers with different levels of experience in Davenport:

Area name
Annual mean wage
Davenport-Moline-Rock Island IA-IL
Estimate not released

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