The cost of barber school can vary greatly by school and state. Different states require different amounts of practice hours in order to be certified, so schools in one state might need to put more hours into their program, leading to a higher barber school cost. The cost of barber school can also be affected by the thoroughness of the program. For example, a school that focuses solely on preparing people for careers as barbers may be much cheaper than a school that combines its barber program with other skills, such as cosmetology. This type of program would include more components than those needed to gain the training necessary to be a barber, such as cosmetics, and therefore the cost of becoming a barber in this context is likely to be much higher than a straightforward barber school.
The tuition for barber school can range from just over $2,000 to above $16,000 depending on the state and depth of the program, plus costs that are not included in the regular tuition, such as books and study supplies. However, when calculating barber school cost, you must also factor in the cost of living. Again, this amount can be highly variable based on the distance from your current home to the school (do you need to move?), the place of residence in which you plan on living (housing costs if not local), your desired living conditions (utilities, house vs. apartment, apartment size), and other regular expenses (groceries, and entertainment for example). In total, the cost of barber school can reach well over $20,000.
How to Become a Barber
Depending on your location, there may be several paths to becoming a barber that are available to you. You may train under an experienced barber or go to barber school before taking a certification exam (usually with written and practical parts), or you may need a high school education or GED to take the exam. In some cases becoming a barber occurs in stages, with school required to work with an experienced barber, and practical experience required to be a barber on your own. As well, the requirements may need to be met within a certain time range prior to taking the exam. It is very important to become familiar with the state regulations of barber schools in the area where you plan to study.
Becoming a barber in virtually any state requires a certain amount of experience. The training needed to become a barber can be up to 2000 hours or as low as 800, though 1500 is more common. This may seem like a lot of time, but it is necessary to be thoroughly prepared to take the necessary certifying exam (according to each respective state). These hours are spent under some sort of supervision while learning the fundamentals of being a barber. Ideally this training will cover a range of topics that can lead to the successful completion of the state’s exam. In some states, this training must be supervised at an accredited barber school through the school’s courses. Other states allow the training to be supervised by an experienced barber, and sometimes this barber must follow a state-mandated curriculum in training his apprentice.
How Long is Barber School?
Like other aspects of barber school, the length of program is not standardized. Succinct programs that are concerned specifically with barbering may offer a complete program that ends within one year, while broader programs may run as long as four years. The length of any barber school program is tied to the number of practice hours required to take the licensing exam. For instance, a state requiring 2000 or more practicing hours is unlikely to have a barber school with a one-year program as it would be considered too condensed for a student to be properly educated and trained in barbering.
Whether you complete your training through an apprenticeship with an experienced barber, or through the program of a barber school, you will need to be officially licensed or certified by the state that will be home to your newly acquired barbering skills.
When you have attained the required hours from an appropriate source, and have met any other criteria set by your state licensing authority (allotted time period for example), you may take the state exam. This test typically includes two parts. Your theoretical knowledge is the target of the written test while the practical part of the exam is based on the hands-on practice you received during barber training. The successful completion of both parts of the exam will usually result in your certification as a barber and licensing so you may practice in the state. Note that the process is not always as straightforward. You may need to attend more sessions of barber school and/or training after completing the first exams, and later examinations could be necessary for full licensing.
Barber School Grants
To ease the burden of barber school cost, certain scholarships and grants may be available. Unfortunately, many barber schools are too small to provide financial aid in the form of scholarships and grants, though this is not always the case and is definitely worth looking into. If you are attending a nationally accredited barber school then you may be eligible for federal student aid through FAFSA or through the Pell Grant (for low-income students). Additionally, some institutes and companies outside of the school and government may offer scholarships or grants to cover barber school cost to students who are high achievers through their barber school program (for example, the Alice Madden Barton Scholarship offered by Great Clips Inc.).
After completing training and/or a barber school program and successfully completing state licensing criteria, you are ready to head out into the workforce and (hopefully) find the barbering job you so desire. Before you do so, you may want to make sure you are offered compensation that is in line with what other barbers are making. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, the average salary of a barber in the U.S. is just under $28,000 with the possibility of rising over $32,000. It appears that the cost of barber school is quite fair when compared with the earning potential of an educated, well-trained barber.