The finest in men’s style is found in classic, American barbershops. As a barber, you get to specialize in the designing and styling of men’s hair, beards, and moustaches. Michigan is a great place to get started in your barbering career, offering barbershops such as Berkley Chop Shop in Detroit— which is one of the best places in the nation to get a correct, vintage haircut.
Even further, the Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget expects the number of barber licenses in Michigan to increase by 3.2% between 2010 and 2020 to keep up with the demand for men’s grooming services throughout the state.
Before you can work as a barber in Michigan, you need to be licensed by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Board of Barber Examiners. This Board regulates the licensing standards for barbers, barber colleges, barber instructors, and barbershops throughout the state.
For a detailed explanation of how to become a barber in Michigan, follow the steps in this guide:
Step 1. Graduate from an 1800-Hour Michigan Barber Training Program
Your first step toward becoming a Michigan barber is graduating from a barber training program. In this program, the Michigan Board requires that you complete both theory and practical training hours. These hours must meet the following requirements:
Theory – 250 hours
- History of Barbering – 10 hours
- Safety and Sanitation – 60 hours
- Client Services – 30 hours
- Haircut and Shave – 60 hours
- Chemical Services – 45 hours
- Secondary Services – 20 hours
- Laws, Rules, and Regulations – 10 hours
- Business Management – 15 hours
Practical – 1,750 hours
- Safety and Sanitation – 50 hours
- Hair Cutting, Styling, and Shaving – 1000 hours
- Shampooing, Hair Waving, and Hair Coloring – 350 hours
- Skin Care, Hair and Scalp Treatments – 250 hours
- Business Ethics, Merchandising, Bookkeeping – 100 hours
In Michigan, you may become licensed as a student barber if you cannot complete the traditional barber training program option. To attain this student license, you must have completed 10th grade (or equivalent) and have good moral character. Upon being licensed, you will then be able to perform barber services underneath the direct supervision of a licensed instructor. This license lasts for 2 years, and you will only be allowed to renew it for 1 additional year.
Step 2. Submit an Application for Barber Licensure by Examination
Your second step toward attaining a Michigan barber license is applying for the license by examination. You cannot take the licensing exams until you receive approval. You will receive approval by submitting the license by examination application. Michigan has an online application system, and to submit an application, you need to register with the Michigan licensing system by completing the following steps:
- Read the Michigan Barber Licensing Exam Information Page
- Complete Initial Application for Barber License by Examination through MyLicense
You will find MyLicense instructions to download on the Barber Examination Process page.
If you already have a license in another state, you may apply for a Michigan barber license based on reciprocity. This means that you will be able to bypass the Michigan licensing exams, and your previous license and experience will allow you to qualify for a Michigan license. To obtain a license by reciprocity, you will need to complete the following steps:
- Submit Reciprocal Barber License Application
- Attach a Copy of your License
- Attach $50 Application Fee (for even-year applications) or $80.00 Application Fee (for odd-numbered years)
If you need to mail in any application or supporting document materials, you can mail them to the Board at the following mailing address:
Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
Corporations, Securities & Commercial Licensing Bureau
P.O. Box 30018, Lansing, MI 48909
Step 3. Pass the Michigan Barber Licensing Examinations
Your next step is taking and passing the Michigan licensing exams. Before you can take the licensing exam, you will need to register directly with the Michigan testing vendor, PSI Services. To do this, make sure you download and read through the PSI Candidate Examination Bulletin. You will need to complete your registration online and pay the $161 examination fee. Once you are fully registered with PSI and the Michigan Board has approved your testing application, you will receive an examination registration form, and you will be able to take the two Michigan licensing exams: the theory and the practical examination.
You will have 120 minutes to finish this written exam. This exam will be a 100-question, multiple-choice exam that will cover the following barber theory subjects:
- General Concepts (31%)
- Hair and Scalp (14%)
- Physical Services (19%)
- Chemical Services (16%)
- Haircutting and Styling (10%)
- State Laws and Regulations (10%)
You may take the theory exam at any of the following Michigan locations:
- Holt-Lansing Exam Center
- Southfield (Detroit area) Exam Center
- Grand Rapids Exam Center
- Gaylord Exam Center
- Marquette Exam Center
You will have 170 minutes to complete the practical exam. This is a physical exam, where you will perform barber services. You will need to bring a live model who is over 18 years old and a supply kit with you to take this exam. You will be tested on your ability to complete the following barber tasks:
- Set Up and Disinfection
- Shampoo Service
- Blow Drying Service
- Hair Cutting Service
- Mock Shaving Service
- Facial Service
- Chemical Service
- Virgin Hair Color on Right Front Quadrant
- Permanent Waving Service
- End of Exam Disinfection
You may take the practical exam at any of the following Michigan locations:
- Southfield (Detroit area) Exam Center
- Grand Rapids Exam Center
- Marquette Exam Center
If you have passed these exams with a score of 75% or higher, you will receive notification of your passing scores online or in the mail at least 7 business days after completing the exam. Once you pass these exams, you will receive your Michigan barber license.
Step 4. Begin your Career as a Licensed Barber in Michigan
The Detroit area in Michigan is one of the best places to find barbershops. Generally, barbers who have more intensive training and education will excel in the industry. For example, many job listings will ask for a barber who specifically knows how to complete a straight neck shave. Having already perfected this, and other barbering services, will give you a leg up on the competition.
As a licensed barber in Michigan, you may now look for work by seeking conventional employment, a contracted position, a chair rental opportunity, or you may even open your own barbershop in accordance with Michigan laws.
If you are looking to open your own barbershop, that will mean you need to have an inspection, pay an additional barbershop license fee, and submit a barbershop license application. However, if you are looking to work in one of the many creative, cooperative barbershop environments already established in Michigan, you may find contracted or payroll jobs at any of these barbershops:
- Berkley Chop Shop – Detroit
- Gentlemen First Shop – Detroit
- The Harbor Barber – Harbor Springs
- Pete’s Barber Shop – Detroit
- Cascade Barber Shop – Grand Rapids
- Men’s Quarters Barber Shop – Detroit
- Top Shelf Barber & Beauty Team – Detroit
Step 5. Renew your Michigan Barber License Biannually
The Michigan barber and barbershop licenses expire on September 30th every two years. The Michigan Board will mail a renewal notification to the address you have on file 30-44 days before your license expires.
Once you receive this notice, you can submit the online renewal form along with your $60.00 renewal fee, and your new license will be sent to you. You will want to renew promptly to avoid late fees and/or the relicensing process.
Barber Salaries in Michigan
The Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget estimates between 280 and 290 barbers were employed across the state in 2011. In that year, barbers earned an average wage of $10.20/hr.
Past work experience often impacts how much a barber can make in Michigan. For instance, in 2011 barbers receiving an entry-level wage earned an average of $8.09/hr., while their more experienced colleagues were paid an average wage upwards of $11.26/hr.
Michigan employers recently advertising job opportunities for barbers and/or stylists with barber licenses included:
Pit Stop Barber Shop
Zoey + Joey
Cool Cuts 4 Kids
Bosco Barber Shop
Salary Percentiles for Barbers in Michigan
In 2013, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics helped jobseekers understand barber pay scales in Michigan by providing the following salary percentiles for this occupation:
10th Percentile: $16,300/yr.
25th Percentile: $17,100/yr.
Median Percentile: $18,500/yr.
75th Percentile: $24,000/yr.
90th Percentile: $35,900/yr.
Wage Percentiles for Barbers in Michigan
In 2013, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics showcased barber pay scales in Michigan by providing the following wage percentiles for this occupation:
10th Percentile: $7.84/hr.
25th Percentile: $8.24/hr.
Median Percentile: $8.91/hr.
75th Percentile: $11.52/hr.
90th Percentile: $17.26/hr.
Regional Salary Figures for Barbers in Michigan
In 2013, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics posted these regional salary averages for personal care and service workers, including barbers:
Saginaw-Saginaw Township North: $24,780/yr.
Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills: $23,260/yr.
Grand Rapids-Wyoming $20,620/yr.
A more comprehensive analysis of salary and wage data, including selective percentile profiles, for personal care and service workers employed in metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas of Michigan is located in the table below: