Barber and Hairstylist
Barber and Hairstylist
Education and Training: Vocational/technical school; license
Salary: Varies—see profile
Employment Outlook: Good
Definition and Nature of the Work
Barbers and hairstylists shampoo, cut, style, and color hair. They shave and cut beards and mustaches. They also give facial massages and hair and scalp treatments. Many use, recommend, and sell a variety of grooming products such as shampoo, styling gels, and hairbrushes. Barbers usually work on men's hair, although many have both male and female customers.
Barbers and hairstylists work in barbershops or beauty salons. Some work in hotels, spas, resorts, department stores, or government agencies. About half of all barbers and hairstylists have their own businesses.
Some barbers and hairstylists specialize in styling or coloring hair. They use equipment such as rollers, curling and straightening irons, and color treatments. They know how to perform various processes such as highlighting, frosting, or streaking hair. In addition, some barbers and hairstylists fit, shampoo, and style wigs and hairpieces. Sometimes they also sell wigs and hairpieces. Most states require a special license in cosmetology before a barber or hairstylist can do some of these jobs.
Barbers and hairstylists use such tools as scissors, clippers, razors, and combs. They also use lotions, gels, and powders to help groom their customers. Barbers and hairstylists must keep their work area clean and their tools sterile and in good working order. Many barbers and hairstylists take care of the day-to-day concerns involved in running a small business. For example, they may order supplies, make appointments, and pay bills.
Education and Training Requirements
Prospective workers can be trained as a barber or hairstylist in a vocational school or a barber college. A full-time course usually takes from six to twelve months to complete. All states require barbers and hairstylists to be licensed. The qualifications necessary to get a license vary from state to state, but generally individuals must be at least sixteen years old, in good health, and a graduate of an approved barber school. In most cases candidates need to take a test to get an apprentice license after graduating from barber school. Then they must serve one or two years as an apprentice. To qualify for a barber's license, individuals must take several tests, including a written section and a practical demonstration of skills. To do some procedures, such as giving a permanent wave, candidates will also need a cosmetology license.
Getting the Job
Most barber schools have placement services to help interested individuals get a job. Local unions or professional associations can also give information about job openings. Candidates can also apply directly to barbershops. Sometimes openings for barbers or hairstylists appear in newspaper classifieds. Prospective barbers can also check state and private employment agencies or search job banks on the Internet.
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
Experienced barbers can become managers or owners of barbershops. Loans are available to barbers, and used equipment can be bought at reduced prices. Some barbers get additional training and specialize in hairstyling or coloring. A few become teachers at barber schools.
Overall, employment for barbers and hairstylists is expected to grow as fast as the average through the year 2014. There will be numerous openings to replace barbers who leave the field.
Barbershops are usually clean, attractive, well-lighted places. Most are small, although there are some very large shops in some cities and suburbs. Most barbers and hairstylists work more than forty hours a week, including Saturdays. Some work part time. There are often slow periods followed by rush periods. Some barbershops ask their customers to make appointments rather than just walking in so they can even out the work load. Barbers and hairstylists must stand for long periods of time. They must work well with their hands. Since some customers are hard to please, barbers and hair-stylists need patience and good humor. Barbers who set a cheerful mood sometimes find that their shops become local social centers. Some barbers and hairstylists are union members.
Where to Go for More Information
Association of Cosmetologists and Hairdressers
1811 Monroe St.
Dearborn, MI 48124
National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences
4401 Ford Ave., Ste. 1300
Alexandria, VA 22302
National Cosmetology Association
401 N. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
Earnings and Benefits
Barbers and hairstylists either receive wages or work on a commission basis, getting a percentage of the fee charged. All receive tips. Their earnings depend on the location of the shop, the tipping habits of the customers, and their own skill. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median income of salaried barbers, including tips, is $21,200 per year; salaried hairstylists earn a median income of $19,800 per year. Benefits vary from shop to shop. Some workers receive benefits that include paid vacations and health insurance. Barbers and hairstylists with their own businesses provide their own benefits.