Barbering is an art form, according to many, so it’s no surprise that individuals interested in becoming a barber must become authorities on barbering before they can command a barber’s chair. And one of the best and most effective ways to do so is through a comprehensive educational program in barbering.
Since the early 1880s, barbering has been a tradition among men. Visiting the barber shop was often a weekly occasion, where a shave and a cut—and a little socialization among friends—were as popular as a trip to the local saloon. The barber experience still lives on, and many say it is even making a comeback as men realize the value of a great cut and a close shave.
Today’s barbers must be able to deliver the highest quality services to their clients—services that cannot be found at a local mall hair salon or a unisex discount salon. Therefore, a solid education, complete with plenty of hands-on training, is a must. It is also a must for licensure, a requirement in every state. Although some states do recognize an apprenticeship as a route to licensure, all states recognize an accredited program.
Barber School Info By State
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Accredited Programs in Barbering
Individuals who want to become barbers must first search for a barbering program that is accredited by a national accrediting body or is recognized by their state’s department of barbering. In most instances, accredited state schools are also those that are approved/recognized by their state board of barbering.
The largest accrediting body in the U.S. for barber programs is the National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences (NACCAS), which is recognized by the Department of Education as a national agency for the accreditation of programs and schools related to the cosmetology arts and sciences. The NACCAS currently accredits more than 1,500 institutions across the United States.
There are also a number of other barber school accrediting bodies in the U.S. that are recognized by the Department of Education:
- Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges
- Accrediting Council for Continued Education & Training
- Council on Occupational Education
Barber School Requirements
Individuals interested in pursuing a formal barber education should ensure the program meets their state’s requirements for licensure. Many states maintain a list of approved programs, while other states approve programs that are recognized by a specific national accrediting body. It is also important for individuals to understand their state’s minimum requirements for barber schools; specifically, the program must meet the minimum practice hours required by their state board of barbering.
For example, candidates for barber licensure in Connecticut must complete a program that is at least 1,500 hours in duration, while in Florida this requirement is 1,200 hours.
Some states also allow current licensed cosmetologists to pursue barber licensure without requiring that they complete a full barbering program. For example, in Washington D.C., individuals must complete a barbering program of at least 1,500 hours, but licensed cosmetologists in the state may pursue a barber license by completing a program of just 500 hours in barbering.
Still other states recognize the completion of an apprenticeship in lieu of a formal barber educational program; however, many times, apprenticeship requirements are must greater than barber program requirements. For example, students in Maine are required to complete a barber program of at least 1,500 hours to qualify for licensure. On the other hand, individuals qualifying for licensure through the completion of an apprenticeship must complete a course of training that is at least 2,500 hours in duration.
Barber schools often require students to meet a number of minimum requirements to be accepted into a barber program. The majority of programs require students to be at least 17 years of age and to possess a high school diploma or GED. Other requirements for admission often include a physical and a personal interview, and most programs require candidates to possess both a Social Security number and a valid driver’s license.
Barber shop programs may be full-time or part-time, and many are organized to fit around individuals’ work schedules.
Barber School Training and Education: Classes and Programs
A barber school program, which generally results in a professional certification, may be found through a dedicated barber school or through a school of cosmetology. Individuals desiring to become barbers must complete a program in barbering, not cosmetology, as there are distinct differences in these programs and in these professions.
The training and education received in a barber school program is indicative on the art of barbering, which is quite different from the training for hairdressers/hairstylists. For example, barbers are trained to shave the facial skin with a straight razor, whereas licensed cosmetologists are not allowed to perform this type of service.
So, what exactly what type of education/training does a barber school provide its students?
They are taught all techniques, methods, and practices for providing complete hair and skin services to men and basic hair services to women. In addition, because the barbering profession tends to be quite entrepreneurial, most programs include study in areas such as barber shop ownership and business management.
Finally, barber programs are designed to allow students to recognize skin and hair conditions and to understand and appreciate the importance of safety, sanitation, and infection control.
In addition to classroom (theory) training, barber schools are equipped with fully functional clinical areas where students learn the bulk of their hands-on training. Students many begin by practicing on mannequins and then advance to practicing on real clients. Most barber schools either require students to purchase, or provide student with, a barber student kit, which includes all of the necessary tools of a barber.
When searching for a barber school, many individuals look for barber instructors with extensive experience in the industry, and many seek out traditional barber programs that teach the art form of barbering, which never includes the use of clipper guards or attachments. Individuals should always look for a barber program that prepares them for their state-required licensure examinations. Many programs have classes aimed specifically at preparing students to take these examinations.
A comprehensive program of barbering should always include education and training in:
- Service and Skills
- Men’s hair cutting (taper, buzz, high and tight, razor cutting, fade, etc.)
- Scalp treatments (scalp massage, shampooing and hair care)
- Women’s basic haircutting
- Men’s grooming (beard and moustache trimming, facial shaving)
- Hair coloring
- Hair pieces, wigs, and attachments
- Chemical relaxing, permanent waves
- Classroom Training
- Networking skills
- Client interaction
- Product support
- Interviewing/job placement skills
- Communication skills
- Safe and effective work practices
- State laws, regulations, and rules
- Leadership skills