Barber Schools and License Requirements in Kentucky

Barbers are experts of men’s hair care and styling, specializing in hair, beard, and moustache design. Now is a great time to start your career as a barber in Kentucky. The number of licenses for personal appearance workers, which includes barbers, hairstylists, manicurists, and estheticians, is expected to increase by 14.6% between 2010 and 2020 to keep pace with the growing demand for the services they provide. This means there will be in excess of 200 job openings in the field each year throughout this period, according to the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.

If you are ready to join this growing field, you will need to be licensed through the Kentucky Board of Barbering. This is the Board that regulates the education and exam licensing requirements for barbers throughout the state, defining these licensed professionals as hairstylists who specialize in cutting, trimming, and styling hair and facial hair.

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

Complete a Minimum of 1500-Hours of Barber Training
Pass the Kentucky Probationary Barber Examination
Pass the Kentucky Barber Examination
Begin your Career as a Licensed Kentucky Barber
Renew your Kentucky Barber License Annually



Step 1. Complete a Minimum of 1500-Hours of Barber Training

Your first step toward a barber license in Kentucky is graduating from a barber training school.

The Kentucky Board requires that your program provide at least 1500 hours of barber training, including courses on the following Board-required barbering subjects:

  • Instruments- 30 hours
  • Shaving instructions- 100 hours
  • Haircutting for men, women and children- 935 hours
  • Shampooing- 40 hours
  • Permanent waving- 40 hours
  • Hair coloring- 40 hours
  • Hair straightening and relaxing- 40 hours
  • Massaging- 35 hours
  • Scalp and skin diseases- 20 hours
  • Physiology and anatomy of the head, face and neck- 100 hours
  • Sterilization and sanitation- 40 hours
  • Hygiene- 10 hours
  • Bacteriology-20 hours
  • Electricity- 10 hours
  • Pharmacology- 20 hours
  • Psychology- 10 hours
  • History, Professional ethics and other information- 10 hours

After you graduate from barber college, you will be eligible to take the probationary barber examination.


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Step 2. Pass the Kentucky Probationary Barber Examination

Once you graduate from barber training school, your next step will be becoming a probationary barber. To become a probationary barber, you must first pass the probationary barber written examination. As long as you are at least 17½ years old, have graduated from high school, and have gradated form a licensed barber school in Kentucky, you are eligible to take this licensing exam.

Because the Kentucky Board of Barbering prefers to do all licensing and examination communication over the phone or in-person, you will need to call or visit the Board to get information on the examination application and the examination dates.

For the probationary barber exam, you will have 1 hour and 20 minutes to finish, and it will be a written examination. This written exam will test your knowledge on barber theory topics, including the following:

  • Infection Control
  • Bacteriology and Sanitation
  • Head, Neck, and Face Anatomy
  • Kentucky Barber Laws and Regulations
  • Shaving Procedures
  • Hair Styling and Cutting
  • Hair Coloring
  • Chemical Hair Services

Once you complete this exam and pass with a score of at least 75% or higher, you will be able to purchase your $50 license as a probationary barber.

Once you finally attain your license as a probationary barber, you will need to complete 6 continuous months of probationary barber work. This means that you will need to work under the supervision of a licensed barber in a licensed barbershop for 6 months. After this 6-month period, you will be eligible to take the regular Kentucky barber examination.



Step 3. Pass the Kentucky Barber Examination

Towards the end of your 6-month probationary period, the Kentucky Board will send you a letter and barber examination application. Once you receive the letter and examination application from the Kentucky Board, you will need to fill out and return the application. When the Board receives your barber examination application, you will be scheduled to take the exam.

This exam is similar to the probationary barber examination; however, this is a practical examination that will take 1 hour and 10 minutes. You will be tested on your ability to perform the following barber services:

  • Set up and Client Protection
  • Haircutting and Styling
  • Permanent Wave


  • Permanent Straightener


  • Permanent Coloring

After you pass this exam, you may pat the $50 license fee and receive your Kentucky barber license.



Step 4. Begin your Career as a Licensed Kentucky Barber

Once you are a licensed Kentucky barber, you will be eligible to find traditional employment, a commissioned position, rent a booth in an established barbershop, or even open your own barbershop.

If you decide to open your own barbershop, you get to control your hours, the location of your shop, and the culture of the shop. You can create your own barbershop experience, ranging from traditional, classic styles to more modern, luxurious styles. In order to open your own shop, you must hold a current barber license, and you must complete the following steps:

Kentucky cities, such as Louisville, Lexington, Paducah, and Georgetown have a long tradition of barbershop culture supported by top shops that include:

  • Meadowthorpe Barber Shop – Lexington
  • East End Barber Shop – Louisville
  • Bonnie’s Barber Shop – Louisville
  • Ashland Barber Shop – Lexington
  • J-Town Barber Shop – Louisville



Step 5. Renew your Kentucky Barber License Annually

You will need to renew your license annually in order to keep working legally as a barber in Kentucky. Your barber license will expire on July 1st of each year. When the renewal period approaches, the Board will mail you a renewal form.

To renew your Kentucky barber license, you must return this form along with the $50 renewal fee to the Board before July 1st. If you are late, you will need to pay a $25 late fee.

Barber Salaries in Kentucky

Barbers interested in joining an expanding workforce should consider developing a career in Kentucky.

According to the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet’s most recent occupational outlook publication, personal care and service occupations, such as barbers, are expected to become the fastest growing occupational group through 2022.

Between 2012 and 2022, personal care and service occupations are projected to experience a 25.3% rise in employment. This high percentage is more than twice the average growth rate predicted for all other occupations.

Average Salary and Wages for Barbers in Kentucky

In 2013, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Kentucky held the second highest concentration of barber jobs in the country.

In that year, the Kentucky Department for Workforce Investment found barbers earned an average salary of $35,261/yr. and an average wage of $16.95/hr. Inexperienced barbers typically earned an average entry-level pay of $20,849/yr. or $10.03/hr., while more advanced barbers earned a much higher average pay of $53,884/yr. or $25.91/hr.

Barbers are routinely awarded added gratuity by their clientele for great customer service. However, government released salary and wage information for barbers does not include tip amounts. Therefore, all occupational income statistics should be viewed as base pay figures.

Regional Salary and Wage Averages for Barbers in Kentucky

Since each community has a different demand levels for barbers, a barber’s geographic location of employment may shape their salary earning potential in Kentucky. In 2013, the Kentucky Department for Workforce Development found professionals working in personal care and service occupations earned the following regional salary and wage averages:

Northern Kentucky: $23,673/yr.
Louisville: $23,382/yr.
Big Sandy: $23,262/yr.
Pennyrile: $22,211/yr.
Green River: $21,927/yr.
Bluegrass: $21,915/yr.
Barren River: $21,069/yr.
Kentucky River: $20,882/yr.
Purchase: $20,864/yr.
Fivco: $20,630/yr.

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