Hair Stylist vs. Barber: What’s the Difference?

October 26th, 2023

Beauty Blog

start today



If you’ve got a passion for hair and want to make a career out of it, you’re probably weighing whether to pursue hair styling or barbering and might even be wondering how they’re different. In this article, we’ll discuss the differences between a hair stylist and a barber so you can get a better idea of which path is right for you.

The Differences Between a Hair Stylist and a Barber

Hair stylists and barbers both work with hair, yes — cutting, styling, and even coloring it — but the two professions aren’t interchangeable. Hair stylists and barbers have their own unique training paths to follow, in addition to services only they can fulfill. And differences between the two start in the classroom.


While the specific number of training hours required for licensing varies per state, hair stylists and barbers are typically in school for similar amounts of time. But that’s where the similarities end — it’s the curriculum that is a key differentiator between the two. Hair stylists attend cosmetology school, where they learn a wide range of styling techniques, treatments, and coloring processes, in addition to shop management, basic esthetics, makeup application, and nail technology. Some cosmetology programs even offer lash extension or brow lamination training, as well as elective topics like applying wigs and hair additions or formal styling.

In barber school, aspiring barbers learn haircutting, styling, coloring, and even texturizing techniques, but there are differences within these specialties. For example, in cosmetology school, you’ll learn how to shape, layer, thin, feather, tease, curl, straighten, and blow out hair, while barber school cutting and styling training incorporates clipping and buzzing to ensure barbers deliver the best versions of the shorter, more simple cuts they’re known for.

Additionally, the barber school curriculum features lessons in skin care and conditions, as well as training in grooming facial hair with a straight-edge razor.


There is a common misconception that hair stylists are for women and barbers are for men. The reality is, hair stylists can and do work with a variety of clients, they just cannot perform men’s grooming services like face-shaving, facial hair design, and mustache- or beard-shaping to the extent that barbers can, which is why barbers tend to have predominantly male clients.

Facial hair plays a key role in whether an individual visits a hair stylist or a barber, but so does the hair style they’re seeking. Barbers are better suited to shaves or cropped cuts, while hair stylists are ideal for everything from a pixie cut to layered, long locks, as well as more complex hair coloring treatments like highlights, lowlights, balayage, toning, gloss, shadow rooting, and more.

Discover the Art of Hair Styling or Barbering at Tricoci

While the two professions are different, the depth and quality of your education remains the same. At Tricoci University, we want to help you work toward a promising career as a hair stylist or barber. Contact us now to learn more about our cosmetology and barber programs, and schedule a virtual tour at our Bridgeview or Norwood Park campus today.

sign up today!