If you are considering becoming a hairstylist, then there are two types of schools from which you can learn your trade - cosmetology school and barber school. Barber school will teach you how to properly cut, style and color (primarily) men's hair and facial hair. In comparison, a cosmetology program will provide you with a more varied education that includes hair, nails, makeup and skin care, and you will serve both male and female clients.

Submitted by Elizabeth on 03/23/2012 - 12:03

Barber School

People who wish to specialize in facial hair along with cutting and styling men's hair should consider attending barber school. Your services will geared towards men with the occasional short hair cut for a woman. Certification for becoming a barber is completed on average in 9 to 12 months. You start with the basics, theory, and safety and sanitation, then later move onto more advanced techniques of shaving, hair coloring and cutting as you progress through the barbering program.

Once you have finished your schooling then you will be able to work as a professional once you have passed your licensing exam. States vary on the number of hours you need to have before crossing this line. Also, keep in mind that some states only allow barbers to handle razors and shaving. If you wish to open a full service barber shop in a state with these restrictions, then attending a barber school over a cosmetology school might be the best choice for you.

Cosmetology School

The decision of attending a cosmetology school might be a better choice if you wish to offer more services than just shaving and cutting hair for men. This means that as a hairstylist, you will need a well-rounded education that can cater to both men and women. Most of the time you will attend a program and graduate in the same amount of time it takes to complete barber school, approximately 9 to 12 months. Again, training hours will vary, but training hours required are almost always the same as barber license requirements. The difference with cosmetology school is that you will learn about nail technology, some makeup artistry, and some esthetics and skin care in addition to learning hairstyling.

Cosmetology school offers you the foundation you need to work as a hairstylist or other beauty professional to men and women. You will be able to work with a variety of clients and offer a full salon service from nails to facials. You will also need to pass a cosmetology licensing exam once you finish your program. In fact, many states wish for you to continue training throughout your career to ensure that you are up to standard on all of the latest techniques and health codes.


No matter where you decide to attend school, it is important that you have a passion for what you do. Barbering and cosmetology are both social jobs; they will require you to be outgoing and understanding when you consult with your clients. Your final decision really depends on your dream job, the different services that you hope to provide in your job, the clientele you want, and the regulations of the state you live in.

Learn more about the differences between barber school and cosmetology school.