Planning Your Barbering Career: Job Overview and Tips for Success

As long as hair grows on people's heads and faces, the world will need barbers to cut, trim, style, shape, and shave it—and that's where you come in. Day after day, people go into and out of their local barbershops to spice up or maintain their looks.

Here, we'll dig into barbering as a career, including places that employ barbers and what barbers can get paid.

What Is a Barber?

A barber is a licensed professional who can cut, shave, trim, and shape shorter hair and facial hair. You might cut and style hair for everyday looks or special occasions. Your clients may range from toddlers to older adults, and gender is becoming less relevant regarding barbers' clientele.

As a barber, you must maintain clean tools and a hygienic and organized workstation. Knowing and practicing all the legal safety and sanitization standards must be one of your top priorities.

Learn More Before Becoming a Barber

What Does a Barber Do?

Barbers can perform a wide variety of hair, facial hair, and scalp treatments, including cutting, styling, and even dyeing and perming short hair. Contrary to some belief, barbers don't only provide haircutting and grooming services for men or those who already have short hair. A person with long hair can go to a barber, but it's usually for a cut that results in short hair.

Barbers can also trim, blend, fade, style, treat, and remove beards and mustaches. You may use oils, special cleansers, and wax on facial hair and perform old-fashioned shaves using straight razors, brushes, and other tools.

You can also teach people to care for their facial hair between sessions.

Some barbers specialize in niches such as wig and hairpiece creation or fittings.

Barber Specialties and Workplaces

If you think your career options as a barber are limited to working at your neighborhood barbershop, think again! There are a variety of paths you can take.

Barbershop or Salon

Barbers often work in a barbershop, salon, or similar personal care or beauty business.

Film, Television, and Theatre

Performers need professionals to help them look their best and fit their roles. As a barber for television, film, or theatre sets, you cut and style hair, trim beards and mustaches, and give shaves to transform performers into their characters.


The government hires barbers for military bases, academies, and other facilities. The state or federal government could also need your services in a government-run hospital or prison.

Travel and Accommodations

High-end hotels, resorts, and cruise ships frequently hire barbers to work with their clientele.

Healthcare Facilities

Barbers may work in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living and long-term care facilities, specialty hospitals, and rehab facilities.

Barbershop Manager

As a barbershop manager, you'd probably spend much of your time ensuring the shop runs smoothly. However, you can still work hands-on with clients in many barbershops when possible. If you don't also own the shop, the owner may rely on you to schedule appointments, manage inventory, create schedules, help develop marketing campaigns, and coordinate continuing education and training. You'd also be responsible for meeting all safety and hygiene standards.

Barbershop Owner

You need to take several steps to start a barbershop, such as finding a space to either buy or lease, getting the required permits and licenses, and arranging all the necessary inspections and approvals your municipality requires. You also get to design the shop and create a name and logo. Once your shop is set up, you must deal with accounting, marketing, and overall management. Still, you can decide how much you want to be involved in working with clients.

Barbering Instructor

After working in the field, you might choose to teach barbering to the next generation. You typically need to take additional classes and, perhaps, pass exams to move into education. Instructors work in barbering or cosmetology schools, community colleges, and technical schools.

Traits of a Successful Barber

Are you cut out to be a barber? Check out the list of traits of a good barber and see how you compare!

People Skills

Barbers build client lists on the strength of personalities as much as barbering skills. Part of your job is to make the barbershop experience welcoming, interesting, relaxing, social, and fun.

Physical Stamina

As a barber, you'd stand on your feet for long hours, often without a break during peak business times. Make sure you're comfortable with the physical demands of the work.

Confidence in Your Abilities

A bad haircut can ruin a person's week or their wedding. Your clients only feel comfortable sitting in your chair if they trust your abilities. You must have the same faith in yourself, so take your training and education seriously.

Business Skills

f you choose to work as a manager or open your own shop, your skillset has to go far beyond the ability to cut hair and give a shave. You'll have to understand staff management, bookkeeping, accounting, and inventory management.

Select a beauty program and state to view schools