Even though barbers may work with all types of hair, they traditionally focus on cutting, styling, and trimming men’s hair, beards, and moustaches. Now is a great time to start your barbering career in Tennessee, which is home to such traditional yet innovative barbershops as Frank’s Barbershop in Knoxville. Self Magazine voted Frank’s Barbershop one of the top 20 best barbershops in America, due to its traditionally masculine atmosphere, which includes pool tables, dartboards, and frosty mugs of root beer.
If you’re ready to become a licensed barber in Tennessee, where you can put your own spin on the traditional American barbershop, you will first need to become licensed as a barber with the Tennessee Board of Barber Examiners. The Board regulates the education and examination requirements for barber licensure throughout the state.
For guidance on how to become a licensed barber in Tennessee, just follow the steps in this guide:
Step 1. Graduate from a 1500-Hour Tennessee Barber Training Program
The Tennessee Board requires that you first complete a barber training program of no less than 1500 hours of instruction. Throughout this program, you may engage in training no more than 8 hours a day, or 40 hours a week.
The barber college you attend must include training in the following Tennessee Board-required subject areas:
- Hygiene and Bacteriology
- Scientific Fundamentals of Barbering
- Histology of the Hair
- Elementary Chemistry relating to Sterilization
- Massage and Manipulation
- Structure of the Head, Face, and Neck
Once you graduate from barber school, you will be eligible to take the Tennessee barber licensing exams.
Step 2. Pass the Tennessee Practical and Theory Licensing Examinations
As of 1/1/2014, The Tennessee Board allows your educational provider to submit your examination eligibility to PSI Services, which is testing vendor for the Tennessee barber licenses. So, once you have graduated from a barber training program, your school will submit your eligibility to PSI, and you will receive pre-approval. Afterwards, you will need to complete the following steps to schedule your licensing exams:
- Download and Read the Tennessee Master Barber Examination Candidate Information Bulletin
- Schedule your Examinations Online with School’s Pre-Approval
- Pay the $70 Examination Fee per Exam
You must pass two exams with a score of 70% or higher to be eligible for a Tennessee barber license: the practical exam and the written exam.
Master Barber Practical Exam
This exam will take 190 minutes, and it will measure your ability to perform barbering services. You will need to bring a live, male model that is at least 16 years old and a mannequin on which to perform these services. For this exam, you will perform the following barber tasks:
- Safety and Setup
- Haircutting – Tapered Haircut
- Facial Treatment
- Plain Manicure on Index and Middle Finger
- Permanent Waving
- Virgin Color on One Quadrant
- Thermal Hairstyling
The practical exam will be taken at any of the PSI examination centers, which are located in the following cities:
Master Barber Theory exam
This exam is composed of two sections: the barber theory portion and the barber law portion. The theory portion will take 120 minutes, and it will measure your knowledge on theoretical barber services and subject matters, including the following:
- Haircutting and Styling
- Nail Care/Skin Care
- Licensing and Regulations for Tennessee
- Hair Coloring
- Chemical Waving and Relaxing
- Sanitation, Disinfection, and Safety
- Shampooing and Conditioning Hair
The law examination will only be 25 questions, and you will have 40 minutes to complete it. It will test your knowledge on Tennessee laws concerning the following barbering services:
- Sanitation and Disinfection
- Barber Licensing and Regulations
The theory exams may be taken as a computer-based test at the following locations:
- Johnson City
Step 3. Submit your Tennessee Barber License Application
Once you pass these exams, PSI Services will provide you with an application for the Tennessee barber license. You will need to submit this application, along with a $75 application fee, to the Tennessee Board at the following address:
Tennessee Board of Barber Examiners
500 James Robertson Pkwy
Nashville, TN 37243-1148
If you hold a barber license in another state, you may qualify to apply for a Tennessee barber license by reciprocity. This means that your previous licensing qualifications must match or exceed Tennessee barber license requirements. If this is so, you may apply for a license by completing the following steps:
- Submit Application for Reciprocity
- Attach Affidavit of Work Experience
- Attach a Copy of your Barber School Diploma
- Request a License Certification from Previous Licensing Board
- Pay $150.00 Reciprocity Fee with Application
You will need to submit all application materials to the Board at the above mailing address. Once the Board reviews and approves your application, you will receive your first Tennessee barber license.
Step 4. Start your Career as a Barber in Tennessee
As a licensed barber, you can start your career in one of Tennessee’s barbershops, or at salons that hire barbers to cater to male clientele.
If you’re looking for some barbershops in some of Tennessee’s largest cities, consider some of the following:
- Frank’s Barbershop LLC – Knoxville
- Byron & Sons Barber Shop – Memphis
- Parlous & Juke – Nashville
- Reds Classic Barber Shop – Nashville
- Classic Sports Barber Shop – Franklin
With the skills and the drive necessary to run your own business, you can even open your own independent barbershop! If you do this, you will be able to control the ways in which your shop evokes traditional American masculine style.
To open your own shop, you need a Tennessee barbershop license. Follow these steps in order to apply for your Tennessee barbershop license:
- Read the Barbershop Application Important Information
- Submit Barbershop License Application
- Attach $150.00 Initial Shop Fee
Step 5. Renew your Tennessee Barber License Biannually
Every two years, during the same month you were initially licensed as a barber, you will need to renew your Tennessee barber license. To do so, all you will need to do is complete and submit the barber renewal form and the $80 master barber renewal fee to the Tennessee Board.
The Board does not require continuing education for renewal, but taking continuing education courses is always beneficial to a barber’s earning potential. Advanced courses can help you stay in the know on the latest in business management, as well as men’s styling products and techniques.
Barber Salaries in Tennessee
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics provides salary information for Tennessee’s barbers, though these professionals generally earn more than indicated because official salary statistics do not account for tips from customers. This can add 10 to 25% to a barber’s actual take home pay.
The average 2013 barber salary in Tennessee was $27,870, which was very close to the national average. Barber salaries in Tennessee were more than three times higher for those in the highest salary bracket.
Tennessee’s barbers in this bracket usually have extensive experience, and earn an average of $53,250. This was 20% higher than the national average for the top-earning barbers. In contrast, Tennessee barbers new to the field averaged $16,470 in 2013.
Barber salaries in Tennessee by city:
Memphis – $37,000
Nashville – $38,000
Knoxville – $41,000
Working as a Barber in Tennessee
The Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development reported that 100 barbers were employed in the state in 2008. Barbers in Tennessee must be licensed to legally practice in the state. The Tennessee Board of Barber Examiners offers two types of licenses. One is for master barbers with a broad range of skills, while the other is for barber technicians who are allowed to perform a more narrow range of treatments. Tennessee barbers must renew their licenses every two years.
Although a small percentage of barbers work in hospitals or in employment services, more than 96% of Tennessee’s barbers work directly with customers in the personal care service field. A large number of these barbers are self-employed.