Barber Schools and License Requirements in Massachusetts

Today’s barbers are expert stylists specifically trained in men’s grooming and hairstyling. As a barber in Massachusetts, you will join a community of barbers who are dedicated to the classic, sophisticated barbershop experience.

Details Magazine recently voted Tweed Barbers in Boston one of the “Best Barbershops in America.” Tweed is known for its dedication to timeless, classic barbering, including vintage photos, oak flooring, and hot lather shaves.

Even further, the number of hairstylist jobs in Massachusetts is expected to grow 24.18% between 2012 and 2022, creating more than 800 annual job openings, according to Massachusetts Labor and Workforce Development. Clearly, now is the time to start your barbering career in Massachusetts.

To learn how to become a licensed barber in Massachusetts, follow the steps in this guide:

Complete 1000 Hours of Barber Training
Pass Massachusetts’s Apprentice Barber Licensing Exams
Pass Massachusetts’s Master Barber Licensing Exams
Begin Working as a Master Barber and Renew your License Biannually
Look into Opening your Own Barbershop

If you’re ready to join this community of traditional barbers and stylists in Massachusetts, you will first need to be licensed by the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Barbers. This board regulates the license requirements for barbers, barbershops, and barber schools throughout Massachusetts.



Step 1. Complete 1000 Hours of Massachusetts Barber Training

Your first step to attaining a Massachusetts barber license is graduating from a Massachusetts barber school. The Board requires that your barber college provide at least 1000 hours of barber theory and practical instruction, including instruction in the following subjects and services:

  • Public Sanitation
  • Sanitation Methods
  • Product Chemistry
  • Professional Conduct
  • Safety Precautions
  • Hair, Skin, and Scalp Structure and Growth
  • Shampoo and Rinses
  • Scalp and Hair Care
  • Facials
  • Shaving and Beard Design
  • Hair coloring
  • Chemical Waving
  • Hair Styling
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Upon graduation, you will receive an apprentice barber license application from your barber school.



Step 2. Pass Massachusetts Apprentice Barber Licensing Exams

Once you receive the apprentice barber license application, you will need to fill out it and pass the apprentice barber licensing exams. Once you submit the application to the Board and pass the licensing exams, the Massachusetts Board will issue you a Massachusetts apprentice barber license.

Apprentice Barber Licensing Exams

A national testing vendor called Pearson VUE administers the licensing exams. You will schedule and take your exams directly with Pearson VUE. To schedule these exams, you will need to complete the following steps:

Further, you will need to schedule two licensing exams: the apprentice barber written exam and the apprentice barber practical exam.

Apprentice Barber Written Exam

This exam consists of 100 questions, including questions on the following barber subject matter:

  • Patron Protection – 25%
  • Hair, Skin, and Scalp – 14%
  • Physical Services – 8%
  • Shaving/Beard Design – 7%
  • Chemical Services – 8%
  • Haircutting and Styling – 17%
  • Massachusetts Laws and Rules – 15%
  • History of Barbering – 3%
  • Shop Management – 3%

Apprentice Barber Practical Exam

For this exam, you will need to bring your own kit with supplies and your own model. You will have 2 ½ hours to complete the practical exam, which consists of you performing five barber service tasks, such as the following:

  • Preparation
  • Honing and Stropping
  • Disinfection
  • Haircut/Scalp Manipulation
  • Shaving

You will be able to schedule these exams in any of the following Massachusetts locations:

  • Malden
  • West Springfield
  • Framingham

Once you pass these exams with a score of 70% or higher, the Board will issue you a Massachusetts apprentice barber license. You must work as an apprentice barber under the supervision of a master barber for 18 months outside of school before you may apply for a master barber license.



Step 3. Pass Massachusetts Master Barber Licensing Exams

Once you complete the 18-month period working as an apprentice barber, you will need to contact the Massachusetts Board by calling (617) 727-7367 or emailing [email protected]. When you do this, the Board will give you the application and instructions on how to take the master barber licensing exams and apply for a master barber license.

Master Barber Licensing Exams

Before you can obtain your master barber license, you must pass two more licensing exams with Pearson VUE: the master barber written exam and the master barber practical exam. You will schedule these exams just as you did with the apprentice exams, but you will now have to pay a $181.00 master barber exam and application fee.

Master Barber Written Exam

The master barber written exam will only have 25-30 questions on it. These questions will be concerning the following barber subjects:

  • General Provisions Applicable to Barber Shops and Barber Schools – 90%
  • Barber Schools – 10%

Master Barber Practical Exam

For this practical exam, you will again be responsible to bring your own supply kit and model. You will be graded on your ability to complete the following barber services:

  • Preparation
  • Honing and Stropping
  • Disinfection
  • Haircut/Scalp Manipulation
  • Shaving
  • Facial

You must pass both of these exams with a score of 70% or higher. When you do, the Massachusetts Board will issue you your Massachusetts master barber license.



Step 4. Begin Working as a Master Barber and Renew your License Biannually

With your master barber license, you can choose to work as a barber in a Massachusetts barbershop. If you’re looking for some of the best-rated barbershops in the state, consider some of the following options:

  • Barbershop Deluxe – Boston
  • Tweed Barbers of Boston – Boston
  • Boston Barber & Tattoo Co. – Boston
  • Charlie’s Barber Shop – Cambridge
  • Floyd’s 99 Barbershop – Boston
  • Razors Barbershop & Shave – Somerville
  • University Barber Shop – Boston
  • Sims Barber Shop – Pittsfield

Apprentice and master barbers will renew by December 31st of every odd year. The apprentice barber renewal fee is $40, and the master barber renewal fee is $78.



Step 5. Look into Opening your Own Barbershop

If you would like to open your own barbershop, the Massachusetts Board will allow you to do so with a new barbershop license. When you open your own barbershop, you get to choose the location, hours, and style of the shop. To attain this license, you must complete the following steps:

  • Create a Floor Plan
  • Complete the New Shop Application
  • Obtain a Business Certificate or Occupancy Permit
  • Submit a $130.00 Money Order
  • Have an Inspection of the Shop

Once you complete these steps, the Massachusetts Board will issue you a barbershop license allowing you to go into business for yourself.

Barber Salaries in Massachusetts

In 2012, the Massachusetts Department of Labor reported 685 residents employed as personal care and service workers, like barbers. By 2022, these workers are expected to swell to 824. This projected employment trend is expected to generate approximately 33 new job openings annually.

Examples of local employers recently interested in hiring barbers and other cosmetology professionals holding a barber’s license in Massachusetts include:

Regis Corporation
Milk + Honey Spa
Cost Cutters

Average Barber Salary in Massachusetts

In May 2013, the Massachusetts Department of Labor found approximately 500 personal care workers, including barbers, employed throughout the state. At that time, these professionals were earning an average salary of $29,190/yr.

Barbers can optimize their salary earning potential by creating diverse and substantial work histories. In 2013, the Massachusetts Department of Labor reported notable salary gaps between entry-level and experienced personal care and service workers by publishing the following salary statistics:

Entry-Level: $17,970/yr.
Median: $20,760/yr.
Experienced: $34,800/yr.

Average Barber Wage in Massachusetts

Of course, not all barbers are compensated with annual salaries. In fact, the large majority of part-time barbers earn hourly wages. In May 2013, the Massachusetts Department of Labor reported personal care and service workers, such as barbers, earned an average wage of $14.03/hr.

Here are additional wage averages for this occupational group according to experience level:

Entry-Level: $8.64/hr.
Median: $9.98/hr.
Experienced: $16.73/hr.
Jobseekers researching how much a barber makes in Massachusetts should be aware that government provided salary and wage statistics do not account for additional clientele gratuity. Therefore these pay figures are considered base earnings rather than total earnings.

Geographical Pay Averages for Barbers in Massachusetts

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, geographical pay averages for personal care and service workers, including barbers, in 2013 were as follows:

Area name
Annual mean wage
Boston-Cambridge-Quincy MA-NH
Boston-Cambridge-Quincy MA NECTA Division
Estimate not released
Providence-Fall River-Warwick RI-MA

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