Barbers work mostly on male clients but may have a few females coming to them, as well. They not only cut hair, but they also groom beards, give facials, and fit hairpieces. Barbers enjoy a fairly recession-proof career, because no matter what the economy is doing, clients set aside money to spend on their grooming.

Barber Job Duties

On a daily basis a barber’s job duties may include:

  • Recommend cuts, treatments, and other services to your clients
  • Talk about the hairstyles best suited for your client
  • Perform services such as hair washing, cutting, coloring, and shaving
  • Offer your clients color, perms, bleaching, and highlights
  • Know how to handle the tools of your trade such as scissors, straight edged razor, and clippers
  • Be able to carry on conversations with your clients, assuming they are being talkative

What Soft Skills Does a Barber Need?

A: Barbers need more than just talent when it comes to their job. Since it’s a customer facing career, you will need to have some of the following soft skills:

  • Customer-service: It is a service-driven career, and you need to be fairly friendly and like-able in order to keep your clients coming back.
  • Listening skills: More than likely, your clients will sit in your chair and tell you what they want. If you don’t agree with them, you can gently attempt to talk them out of it. But, in the end, you’re there to make your client happy. And also? The life stories you’ll hear! Oh, the books you’ll be able to write.
  • Physical stamina: You’re standing. A lot. And working with your arms. A lot. You need to be in decent shape to be able to tolerate the job.
  • Creative edge: You’re kind of like an artist, and your medium is hair. Some of your clients are going to want vanilla hair cuts, but on the not-so-rare occasion you’re asked to do something different, you’ll need to call on that creative side.
  • Time management: Time is money. So, you need to be able to manage your time in order to make the most money. From scheduling to not running too late in your appointments, time is precious for everyone, so you need to know how to manage it properly.

Education for Becoming a Barber

Unfortunately, you can’t wake up one morning and decide you’re a barber. There’s a few steps you have to walk before you are qualified to cut hair.

  • You must be a minimum of 16 years old.
  • Get your high school diploma or GED.
  • Head to cosmetology school, whether it’s through a community college, beauty school, or a trade school.
  • If there’s a specific barber track, take it. Otherwise, the cosmetology program is just fine.
  • Take your state’s licensing exam, which will include both a written and hands-on portion.
  • Work as a barber’s apprentice before going out on your own.

What About the State Board Licensing Exam for Barbering?

Every state has its own requirements for you to be eligible for the licensing exam. Some of the more common things you’ll be tested on are:

  • Setting up and client protection
  • Using a straight razor
  • Perms, chemical waving, and chemical relaxing
  • Hair-cutting
  • Hair color, highlights, bleaching
  • Facials
  • Blow drying

How Much Did Barbers Earn in 2023?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2023, barbers earned an average pay of $41,570, with the top 10 percent making $61,090 or more. States that saw the highest pay for barbers were Washington, New York, Virginia, and Louisiana.