Guide to Choosing a Barber School


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    A career as a barber is an exciting opportunity to join a cultural tradition within the style industry. Just as tattoo artists have become champions of skin adornment, barbers are the voice for excellent hair.

    Yet barbers have a more significant community connection than tattoo artists. Rather than sporadic visits to a tattoo parlor, customers are regularly visiting the barbershop for a style refresh, pampering or camaraderie. Some barbers even say the relationships built with their customers are part of the barber code — a level of confidentiality that’s as sacred as doctors, lawyers or bartenders. More Information

    Barbershops have been put into the spotlight recently, and more people than ever before are valuing the services of a fine haircut, close shave and the experience of visiting their barber.

    Barber professionals are also in high demand. A September 2020 report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected that barber jobs are expected to increase by seven percent within the next decade. That’s much higher than the four percent growth among all occupations. More Information

    What does it take to start a career as a barber?

    This guide breaks down the key points of choosing a barber program including how to pick the best school, how long it takes to become certified, and how to set yourself up for a successful career.

    1. Look for a Barber Program that Teaches a Variety of Skills.

    If you attend a barber program that teaches a wide variety of skills, you will have the training to qualify for a wide variety of jobs. Building a broad skill set is an important way to maximize early career opportunities. For example, if you are trained in haircuts, shaves and hair dyes, you will be qualified for jobs in each of these categories.

    Maximize job opportunities by attending a program that prepares you for the following careers:

    A diverse training program will help you qualify for the following careers:

    • Barber: Barbers work directly with clients to provide grooming, including cutting and styling hair. In just the city of Indianapolis, there are hundreds of entry-level barber jobs. Job opportunities are expected to grow faster than average as the demand for hair care services continues to increase.
    • Barber Apprentice: If you’re interested in men’s hair care, you can start from the ground up by working directly with a professional barber as an apprentice. This is an especially valuable opportunity when you want to train with a well-known barber or style icon.
    • Barbershop Manager: Running a successful barbershop is about more than just great haircuts. If your barber training prepares you to be a manager, you’ll be skilled at the client scheduling and operations practices to manage a team and serve the customer.
    • Barbershop Owner: If you’d like to own a barbershop, it’s important to train in all aspects of barbering and business. Not only should you learn how to provide great customer services, but it’s also important to learn about licensing requirements or applicable regulations.
    • Master Barber: Master barbers are hair craftsmen and style gurus. With top-tier barber skills, they can help clients with everything from hair sculptures to camera-ready style.
    • Men’s Stylist: Going beyond traditional hair cutting services, men’s stylists help design haircuts that achieve style goals. Stylists also look at the big picture, considering how hair, beard, mustache and grooming can line up with fashion or trends.

    2. How Long Will It Take to Graduate From Barber School?

    When choosing a barber school, the length of time it takes to complete the program will vary. Each state has different rules and requirements, and the barber program you attend should qualify you to become state-certified.

    Illinois & Indiana
    • Barber : 1,500 hours
    • 12 months – Full-time
    • 20 months – Part-time
    Illinois Barber Training and Licensing

    The Illinois state requirement of 1,500 training hours can be completed in as little as 12 months. By this time next year, you could be a certified barber. New barbers must also complete an Illinois state barber exam, earning a score of at least 75. The computerized exam covers hair care, shaving, skin care and safety practices. Your barber training program will prepare you to ace the exam, and you can retake it if you don’t score high enough the first time.

    Illinois Barber Training and Licensing

    In Indiana, the required 1,500 hours of barber training hours must be completed at an Indiana beauty culture school. To become licensed, students must also pass a written examination. Exam topics include haircuts, styling, beards, chemical services, skin care and safety. If you don’t pass the first time, you can retake the test, but your barber training program should prepare you for the state certification exam.

    Fast-track Barber Curriculum

    Cosmetology graduates have the option to take an accelerated barber training program, qualifying for the state barber certification with just 500 hours of training. That could be as short as three months of classes if attending full time, and if attending part time, that’s just five months of training to qualify for a new career.

    Flexible Start Dates

    Barber programs frequently offer flexible start dates with new groups of students beginning training several times throughout the year. This means you won’t have to wait long to start your training.

    High School to Barber School

    If you already have some training or experience, you may be ahead. Some barber schools let you transfer high school cosmetology classes toward an accredited barber program. This can help you graduate quicker by applying earlier classes to your training requirement.

    3. Prioritize Hands-On Experience in Barber Training.

    The most valuable barber program is one that prepares you for success. This includes providing hands-on training so students learn the skills for all types of clients.

    Barber Classroom: Use mannequins to practice hair cutting, shaving, hair styling, treatments and skin care.

    Barber training starts in the classroom. Students watch demonstrations from instructors, practice skills on mannequins, receive feedback, and engage in discussions. Prioritizing hands-on training experience makes it possible for students to grow their skills and gain confidence. Practice includes hair cutting, shaving, hair styling, treatments and skin care.

    Experience in Clinic Salon/Barbershop: Look for a program in which you can work with real clients in an on-campus clinic that’s designed to match a high-end salon/barbershop experience.

    Classwork isn’t the only thing that helps students succeed. Some barber programs offer an opportunity to work with real clients in an on-campus clinic salon. Student-run salons are open to the public. This experience provides a way for qualified students to continue their training by combining the support of instructors with real client needs.

    Barber programs with student-run salons are an opportunity to prepare for jobs in high-end salons. Not only does this experience help students to develop top-notch skills, but it provides a valuable opportunity to build your resume to help you land your first job after school.

    About the School

    4. Understand Cost and Value

    If you choose the right barber program, you’re investing in your future. However, not all barber schools are created equal. You’ll have to weigh the pros and cons. Ask yourself these questions to understand the full value of the school you’re considering.

    • How much does it cost?
    • When do you pay tuition?

    These hard numbers of how much barber school costs help you understand the initial figures. Keep in mind that these preliminary numbers are a starting point and may not reflect your adjusted tuition bill.

    • Do they offer Financial Aid?
    • What loans, grants or scholarships are available?

    With these affordability questions, you can look at the available resources that can help you lower the initial tuition cost. If you attend a barber school that is recognized by the Department of Education, you may qualify for federal financial aid opportunities such as grants and low-interest student loans. Additionally, many scholarship opportunities are available through industry agencies, local groups and school programs that can help you further reduce the cost of attendance.

    • Is the program an investment in your future?
    • Does the school’s staff have world-class experience?
    • Does the degree length compare to similar trades?

    It’s also important to consider what you’re getting for your tuition. The quality of the training can set you on a path to your future career. You can learn the skills it takes to succeed.

    • Does this school have a good reputation?
    • Is the school NACCAS accredited?
    • Does this school have a high rate of placing students in the field of study?
    • What is the state licensing pass rate for this school?

    The reputation of a school can open doors. You’ll see evidence of this in how students do after graduation, their job placement stats, and how the school is perceived by accrediting organizations.

    5. Visit the School in Person

    To truly decide if a barber school is right for you, you need to visit in person. Seeing the school in person is an opportunity to decide if it’s the right match for you and if the program can help you achieve your career goals.

    Tour the school

    Make an appointment to tour the barber school. Touring the campus is a chance to look for modern instruction environments and a well-maintained campus. Ask questions to understand what type of training you can expect to receive in the classrooms and student-run clinic salons.

    Talk to students

    When you’re on campus, talk to the students. Ask any questions you might have about what it’s like to go to school there or what they’re learning. The students who are currently training to become a barber were recently in your shoes deciding which school to attend. They might have a valuable perspective that can help you decide if the program is right for you.

    Attend events

    You can also attend events the barber school is hosting. Whether it’s a Barber Battle, beauty competition or fundraising show, events can help you see the student’s training in action. You’ll find out what types of styles the students are developing and the skill level of current students. If you leave a barber event feeling inspired, it may be the right school for you.

    Can you see yourself taking classes there?

    Also, consider if you can see yourself taking classes there. The community that you build among your teachers and classmates is your first step in the barber industry. When a school feels right, you’ll be able to picture yourself in class with your haircutting shears in your hand.

    6. Understand the School’s Credentials

    When considering barber programs, look for two types of school credentials.

    Is the school recognized by the US Department of Education?

    Accreditation from the federal government means the school is adhering to national educational guidelines. This is a key standard that tells you about the quality of the barber program. If a school is recognized by the Department of Education, students could also have access to additional educational resources such as federal student aid or grants.

    Is the school accredited by NACCAS or a beauty school agency?

    By attending a barber school that’s been accredited by a professional agency, you’ll know the curriculum meets agency guidelines. This can mean adheres to the standards of the industry, professional coursework, and training that’s in line with current trends.

    7. Look for Prior Student Success

    The achievements of past barber students can help you understand what type of career you could have after attending the program.

    Does the school have an alumni page?

    Not only will the school’s online alumni stores tell you the types of careers graduates can have, but it can also give you insight into potential specializations. Read through the career stories to see if their paths match your goals.

    What have prior students achieved?

    This can help you understand the type of success that could be waiting for you after you complete your barber training program.

    Can you contact alumni to ask questions?

    Alumni are often happy to talk to prospective students about questions they have about the training program and how it related to the beauty industry. Their feedback is usually straightforward, giving you valuable insight into choosing the best barber school for you.

    8. What Are Your Next Steps?

    Talk to your high school guidance counselor or cosmetology teacher

    To begin the barber school admissions process, talk to your high school guidance counselor or cosmetology teacher. These advisors have strong knowledge about how to help you achieve your goals. They may know the barber schools in your area and can help you understand your options. They may also be able to suggest training programs that could be a good fit for you.

    Research Barber programs near you

    Using this guide, you can analyze each accredited barber school and its offerings. This can help you narrow down your list to the programs that meet your career goals.

    The culture of a barber school is as important as its skills training. If your career goals include being a style leader, your training in hair cutting and grooming needs to prepare you to work alongside trendsetters in fashion, tattoo artistry and men’s lifestyle.

    Connect with Tricoci University of Beauty Culture for helpful information about launching your barber career

    Learn more about how the Barbering Program at Tricoci University of Beauty Culture can help you launch your career.