As a barber, you get to participate in the long-standing art of men’s grooming and pampering. Wisconsin is a perfect place to begin your barbering career, since opportunities in personal appearance professions, include barbering, are growing in the state. The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development estimates that more than 600 personal appearance professional licenses will be issued each year in the state between 2012 and 2020. With fashion-forward cities like Milwaukee and Madison, which have a rich tradition of barbershop culture, Wisconsin is a great place to start your barbering career.
Before you can legally work as a barber in Wisconsin, you need to qualify for a barber license from the State of Wisconsin License, Permit and Registration Services and the Barbering Advisory Committee. This Committee regulates the education and exam requirements necessary to obtain a barber license.
For guidance on how to become a licensed barber in Wisconsin, follow the steps outlined in this guide:
Step 1. Graduate from a 1000-Hour Wisconsin Barber Training Program
Your first step toward attaining a Wisconsin barber license is completing a barber training program from a licensed barber school. Your barber college program must include at least 1000 hours of both practical and theoretical training, including, but not limited to, the following subjects:
- Barbershop Management
- Barber Ethics and Professionalism
- Chemistry, Electricity, and Anatomy
- Hair Styling
- Facial Hair Trimming and Design
- Sanitation, Disinfection, and Sterilization
Alternatively, the Wisconsin Board will allow you to mix barber training school hours with apprenticeship hours. Instead of obtaining 1000 hours, however, you will need to obtain a minimum of 2000 hours of formal documented training under the guidance of a mentor barber.
The first 288 hours must be in theory and must be provided by a formal barber training school.
After that, you may complete 1,712 hours of practical instruction under the direct supervision of a licensed barber. Once you have completed your program, your apprenticeship program will have to submit the following documents to the Division of Professional Credential Processing:
Once you have completed all of your training, whether from a barber school or apprenticeship, you may apply for a temporary permit that will last up to 6 months.
Step 2. Submit an Application for Wisconsin Licensure and Exams
Once you have completed your education, you may apply for your temporary permit and your licensing exams. To apply for a temporary permit and your licensing exams, you will need to apply directly with the testing vendor, Pearson VUE.
Before you can take the licensing exams, you must follow the step-by-step guide to licensing, by completing the following steps:
- Create Credential Manager Account
- Activate your Account
- Submit the License Application within the Account
- Pay $391 License by Examination Application Fee
- Receive an Approval to Test e-mail from Pearson VUE
Once you receive approval from Pearson VUE to test, you may apply for a temporary license and schedule your exams.
Step 3. Pass the Wisconsin Theory and Practical Skills Licensing Exams
Before you take the licensing exams, you will want to download and read through the Wisconsin Barber and Cosmetology Candidate Handbook, which will give you information on the licensing process, what to bring on exam day, score reporting, and more. This handbook also has outlines for the two licensing exams you will need to pass: the theory examination and the practical skill examination.
For this exam, you will need to answer 130 multiple-choice questions within 2 hours and 15 minutes. These questions will cover the following barber theory subjects:
- Rules, Regulations, and Safety – 25-35%
- Hair/Scalp Structure and Care – 5-10%
- Shaving/Beard Design – 6-10%
- Haircutting and Styling – 25-30%
- Chemical Services – 20-25%
- Skin Care – 4-8%
The theory exam testing sites are located in the following cities:
- Eau Claire
- Green Bay
Practical Skills Examination
For the practical exam, you will need to bring your own supply kit. With this kit, you will perform the following barber services:
- Infection Control and Safety
- Skin Care
- Hair coloring/Bleaching
- Permanent Waving
- Chemical Hair Straightening and Relaxing
Although locations are subject to change, previous practical skills examinations have been held at the following Wisconsin locations:
- Eau Claire
- Green Bay
- Rice Lake
- Wausau State
- Wisconsin Rapids
Once you pass both licensing examinations, Pearson VUE will notify the Wisconsin Board of your passing scores. The Board will then issue you your first Wisconsin barber license.
Step 4. Begin your Barbering Career in Wisconsin
Wisconsin is home to so many cities that are filled with barbershops, such as Milwaukee, Madison, Appleton, and Green Bay. Because of the rich history of barbershop culture in these areas and the growing demand for these specialized grooming services, you are likely to be successful when opening your own barbershop. When you open your own shop, you get to work for yourself, set your own hours, and develop your own twist on the classic art of barbering.
To open your own shop, all you need to do is obtain a shop license by completing the following steps:
- Submit Barbering Establishment Application
- Attach a Floor Plan
- Pay $75.00 Credentialing Fee
- Renew your Establishment License
If you are looking to get started in an established barbershop, you may look to rent a chair in one of the many great, local barbershops throughout Wisconsin:
- Arcadian Avenue Authentic Barber Shop – Waukesha
- Dick & Arnie’s Barber Shop – Middleton
- Wayne’s Barber Shop – Madison
- Men’s Room Barber Shop – Milwaukee
- The Barbershop, a Hair Salon for Men – Madison, Appleton, Green Bay
Step 5. Renew your Wisconsin Barber License on Odd-Numbered Years
The Wisconsin barber license renewal period is from February 11th – March 31st of each odd-numbered year. You may renew your license online, or you may email the Board at DSPSRenewal@wicsomsin.gov to receive a paper renewal form.
When you renew, you will need to pay the $82 renewal fee.
Barber Salaries Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a great place to begin a barbering career. It is necessary to complete 1,800 hours of training at a licensed school in order to qualify for the barber licensing exam. Wisconsin has a minimum of eight licensed barbering schools in which students learn hair cutting, styling and coloring, as well as shaving methods and facial treatments.
Barber Salaries in Wisconsin
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Wisconsin barbers earn:
Barber wages are augmented by tips. The norm is to tip 15 to 20 percent of the cost of the service although commonly leave a $20 bill for a $15 or 16.00 service.
Barber Salary Differences in Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Areas
Earnings are usually higher in metropolitan areas. Two counties of the 11-county Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington metropolitan area are in Wisconsin. The BLS lists that as the nation’s top-paying metropolitan area for the occupation of barber with a mean annual salary and hourly wage of $41,460 and $19.93 respectively..
Although the BLS does not list salary differentials between nonmetropolitan areas for barbers per se, the following table indicates salaries in Wisconsin nonmetropolitan areas for “Personal Care and Service Workers-Others.”
West Central Wisconsin
South Central Wisconsin
State of Wisconsin Salary Estimates for Barbers
The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development lists the following statewide salaries and wages for barbers:
The following BLS tables describe barber salaries for large cities and metropolitan areas of Wisconsin.