Barber Schools and License Requirements in New York

Modern barbershops represent the classic ideal of masculinity, encapsulating men’s style and camaraderie in an elegant and relaxed atmosphere. In 2013, New York had the second highest employment rate in the U.S. for barbers, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. More than that, New York is home to some of the most unique barbershops in the country.

Three different barbershops in New York City earned recognition as “The Manliest Barbershops in America,” by Men’s Health Magazine. This includes shops like Neighborhood Cut and Shave and The Blind Barber, which feature accents like signature striped poles, copper-topped bars, and an underlying aroma of homemade organic bay rum, all of which creates an atmosphere reminiscent of the 1900’s. Famous shops in New York also include Levels Barbershop, which has been featured on VH1, BET, HBO, and ESPN, and which is known for creating an Antique Barber clothing and accessory line.

Before you can start your barbering career, you will first need to be licensed by the New York State Division of Licensing Services. The New York State Division licenses all types of professions, but as a barber, you will be licensed in the practice of shaving, cutting, and designing hair, mustaches and beards.

To learn how to become a licensed barber in New York, follow these steps:

Graduate from a New York State–Approved Barber School
Submit a New York State Barber Operator Application
Schedule and Pass the New York State Practical Licensing Exam
Begin a Career as a Barber in New York and Renew Your License Every Four Years



Step 1. Graduate from an Approved New York State Barber School

New York is one of a few states that allows barber schools to determine their own curriculum and training hour requirement. Because of this, there is no set hour requirement for barber licensure in New York; however, most barber schools offer 288-hour training programs, along with a 3-hour course concerning the transmission of contagious diseases.

Most New York State licensed barber schools will offer 288 hours of training in the following subject areas:

  • Haircutting and Style
  • Clipper Cutting
  • Shears-over-comb Techniques
  • Shampooing
  • Facial Massage
  • Shaving
  • Shop Management
  • Ethics
  • Preparation for the State Exam
  • State Law
  • Proper Methods of Sterilization
  • Sanitation, Hygiene, and Skin Disorders

Alternately, the New York State Division of Licensing Services allows you to train as an apprentice. To qualify for a barber license based on apprenticeship, you must first submit a Barber Apprentice Application to the New York State Division. Afterwards, you must train for two years as a licensed New York State barber apprentice under the direct supervision of a licensed barber that agreed to serve as your mentor.

Enter Zip:


Step 2. Submit a New York State Barber Operator Application

Once you have completed barber school, you can submit your application for a barber license. This application serves two purposes: it notifies the Board that you are ready to take the New York licensing exam, and it serves as your license application. To submit this application, simply complete the following steps:

Once New York State receives your application, you will get an email detailing how to schedule your practical licensing exam.


If you are a licensed barber from Maine, Pennsylvania, or New Mexico, and if you have worked actively as a licensed barber for at least three years, you may apply for a license based on reciprocity. New York State will waive your practical exam requirement, as long as you submit the following information:


If you have completed an apprenticeship, you will still need to apply for a New York Barber license. To do so, complete the following steps:

You may mail any and all application materials (that you choose not to complete online) to the New York Division of Licensing Services at the following address:

New York State Department of State
Division of Licensing Services
One Commerce Plaza
99 Washington Avenue
P.O. Box 22001
Albany, New York 12201-2001



Step 3. Schedule and Pass the New York State Practical Licensing Exam

You will receive an email notification from the New York Division of Licensing Services concerning the scheduling of your practical exam. The email will direct you to the New York State License Center website, which contains a link for scheduling and a link through which to pay your $15 examination fee.

Once you schedule the exam, prepare for it by downloading and reading through the New York State Barber Practical Examination Information, which outlines what to bring to the exam, how to prepare, what to study, and more.

You will have 1½ hours to complete the practical exam on barbering services, which includes the following:

  • Professional Appearance, Preparation of Work Area & Client Preparation (10 minutes)
  • Hair Cutting Techniques (30 minutes)
  • Shampooing Techniques (5 minutes)
  • Shaving – Facial Hair (15 minutes)
  • Facial Massage (10 minutes)
  • Clean Up of Work Area (5 minutes)

You must pass this exam with a score of 70% or higher. You will receive your exam results through email from the New York State Division of Licensing Services. Once you pass this exam, you will automatically receive your Barber License in the mail.

There are five practical exam test sites in New York located in the following cities:

  • Albany
  • Rochester
  • Manhattan (New York City)
  • Middletown
  • Long Island



Step 4. Begin a Career as a Barber in New York and Renew Your License Every Four Years

Many barbers choose to open their own barbershop or rent a both within an established shop. If you want to become a shop owner and determine the style, feel, and atmosphere of your own shop, you will need to apply for a New York shop owner/area renter license. To do this, you must be at least 18 years old, comply with all federal rules, have a barber license, and complete the following steps:

Whether you are looking to rent a chair or secure a job, consider the following top-rated barbershops located in NYC:

  • Big Apple Barbershop – East Village, Alphabet City, Stuyvesant Town
  • The Stepping Razor – Brooklyn
  • Tomcats – Brooklyn
  • Denny Moe’s Superstar Barber – Harlem
  • Corner Barber – Brooklyn
  • Freeman’s Sporting Club – Brooklyn
  • Astor Place Barber – Manhattan

New York State barber licenses last for 4 years. Three months before your license expires, you will receive an email renewal notice, which will contain a link to your New York State account. Here, you will submit the renewal form and pay the $40 renewal fee.

Barber Salaries in New York

Official barber salary estimates underestimate the take home pay of these professionals, because they do not take tipping into account. Customers generally tip 10-25%.

Barber salaries in New York differed significantly depending on the experience level of these professionals. Experienced New York barbers earned about one and a half times as much as those who were new to the field in 2014.

The New York State Department of Labor indicated that:

The average barber salary in the state was $22,440
Experienced barbers earned an average of $25,320
The average entry-level barber salary in New York was $16,900

Barber Job Growth Rate and Employment Levels in New York State

In 2013, there were 1,720 barbers licensed in New York State. More than 35% of them were located in the New York City region. The New York City metropolitan area had the highest barber employment level of any metropolitan area in the country according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The Nassau area had the fourth highest level.

New York State’s Department of Labor reports that the growth rate for barbers in the state will be favorable between 2012 and 2022. It expects 130 jobs a year to become available on average during this period.

New York State Regional Barber Salaries

The average salary that barbers earned in New York varied widely by region. The differences were especially pronounced for experienced barbers, who earned as much as $13,450 more depending on whether they were located in the New York City or the Capital regions:

New York Area
New York City
Hudson Valley

Barber salaries in the Capital region were an exception to the national trend of barbers with experience earning significantly higher salaries than entry-level barbers.

The BLS provides a detailed analysis of barber salaries by percentile for three of New York’s metropolitan areas:

Area name
Annual mean wage
Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY
Estimate not released
New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island NY-NJ-PA
New York-White Plains-Wayne NY-NJ Metropolitan Division

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