What’s the difference between a barber and a hairdresser? Barbers specialise in men’s hair, while hairdressers do all genders. So if your interest is in men’s hair rather than women’s, training to be a barber could be the correct career move for you. There is continuing growth in the fashion and self-care industry. This is opening new doors in the barbering profession. The number of barbers is increasing. And, of course, it is a vital service that virtually everyone needs at some point.
What Does a Barber Do
Barbers are employed to cut, trim and style customers’ hair, beards and moustaches. On a normal day you’ll do the following sorts of tasks:
- Listen to customer requests and respond to them.
- Give advice on hairstyles and grooming. You should always do this in a constructive way.
- Cut and style hair to customer requests.
- You will also shave, trim and shape beards and moustaches.
- Some administration skills are needed to. To do this you will need to keep records and make appointments. Another role is to take payments for haircuts.
Who Employs Barbers
Barbers either work for themselves or for other barbers. The peak of the profession will usually be opening your own barbershop. You could do this either independently or as part of a franchise. There are usually two or more barbers working together in a barbershop. Usually, there is a hierarchy in seniority. If you’re a barber with experience you can also become a senior barber. Further, highly trained barbers can also move into training or assessing student barbers. Virtually all barbers are private-sector workers.
Job Salary for a Barber
The official UK Government statistics on the job salary for a barber places the starting wage at £15,000, which rises to £25,000 for experienced barbers. Some of this difference comes from the fact that many barbers are part-time workers. Another source estimates the average barber salary in the UK is £27,367.70. This is based on a recorded minimum of £19,000. This rises to a maximum salary of £36,229.. Some other figures are useful to allow you to compare salaries. In the UK, the national average wage is estimated to be around £30,000 according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The current National Living Wage (which must be paid to people aged 23 and over) means the minimum untaxed income for a 40-hour week is over £21,000 per year. As with other jobs, there are significant regional differences in the salary of a barbers in different parts of the UK. Barbers in London and the South East of England are, like other professions, paid more than in other parts of the UK.
How Often is a Barber Normally Paid
Barbers tend to be paid weekly or monthly, depending on the contract of employment.
Who Negotiates a Job Salary for a Barber
Salaries are decided in one of two ways. If a barber is self-employed or freelance, they decide their own salaries depending on the amount of money their barber business is generating. If a salary is agreed between a barber and an employer, it will tend to be an hourly salary which is then paid weekly or monthly.
What Sort of Contracts Do Barbers Have
If a barber is employed by someone else, their contract will specify the hourly wage and basic number of hours to be worked every week. The number of hours actually worked can sometimes change week to week. They will also tend to rise as a barber gains experience.
The more experienced you are, the higher your earning potential as a barber. A good percentage of your income will also come from tips from customers – and tips are not classed as wages or salary and are therefore not covered by tax.
How to Become a Barber
There are different routes to becoming a barber. These include:
- A college course which produces a qualification.
- An accredited apprenticeship.
- Generally working towards being a barber is achieved by being a trainee. You may be able to start work as a trainee barber in a barbershop and learn on the job. Older barbers will often have undertaken this route before set qualifications were developed and standardised. Usually these days your employer will expect you to take a part-time course to get qualifications alongside your trainee work.
- Freelance work is another option. Some people start out as freelancers and rent space in a barbershop. If you choose this option, you’ll usually have to supply your own hair care equipment.
Qualifications/Courses – Barbers
There are two main college courses for barbering. These are:
- Level 2 or 3 Diploma in Barbering.
- T Level in Hair, Beauty and Aesthetics.
Most Further Education colleges will offer one or both of these courses, and they are popular options for students. An FE barbering course can take two years to complete, typically with a required enrolment age between 16 and 19 years old. Enrolling in an FE college university can offer both theory and practical training. Entry requirements for these courses at Further Education colleges are normally set at the following levels:
- 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course.
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course.
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths for a T level.
Apprenticeships are also common routes for developing a career as a barber. If this is your chosen profession, you can do a hair professional intermediate apprenticeship or an advanced apprenticeship for creative hair professionals. In apprenticeships, the focus will be on practical ability rather than theory. As entry requirements for these apprenticeships, you will usually need:
- Some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship.
- 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship.
General Skills Required
Excellent customer service skills are needed in being a barber. The barber shop experience is usually a social one, so you need to be a conversational person and one who has sensitivity and understanding. Listening skills are important for barbers to be able to keep up with conversations. Listening skills are also helpful to make sure you are cutting hair in the right way to please the customer. It is always important to be thorough and pay attention to detail.
Specific Skills Required
- You must have the ability to work well alone and without supervision. This is because other barbers will mainly be focused on their own customers.
- A barber needs very strong hand-eye coordination. Having this helps make the barbing experience smooth for the barber and pleasant for the customer.
- You must have good physical fitness. This is because barbers have to stand up for many hours.
- Focus and pay attention to detail.
- Treating every customer like a valued individual: being able to offer personalised barbering services can help retain customers and may help to increase your client base in a very competitive marketplace.
- Clear verbal communication skills.
- Commitment to cleanliness. Barbers are expected to clean the barbershop before and after every customer, and also have to clean and sterilise tools used in cutting and styling.
- Some barbers specialise in certain cuts or, for example, cutting children’s hair, though most are generalists.
- Some basic time-keeping and computer activities linked to booking appointments.
- Basic numeracy and ability to take payments and give accurate change.
- Some barbers are also trained to provide scalp, face and neck massages.
- Successful barbers need to follow fashion and keep up to date with new hairstyles and techniques.
- Some marketing and promotional skills are useful. These will be required within a barbershop team in order to help promote your place of work.
Mechanical Skills Required
Barbers are expected to clean and sterilise hair-cutting equipment. This includes combs, razors and clippers.
Challenges of Being a Barber
- You need to always be cheerful and outgoing. Indeed, you should try to make your barbershop a place of comfort and relaxation.
- Barbers must have a readiness to communicate honestly. But at the same time you should do so without being offensive or annoying customers.
- Maintaining good relationships with other team members is important.
- Keeping up to date with modern fashions can be challenging.
- You will need to correct mistakes in cutting hair without alarming or alienating customers.
- The customer is always right even if you may think they are wrong. For example, when giving professional advice on hairstyles and grooming ideas, it is always important to respect your customer’s choices.
- A very busy marketplace exists in hairdressing, This means that there is lots of competition. As a consequence, this can push down price. It can also make for a challenging work environment between competing businesses.
- Accidents can happen. Having barber insurance is also important because you work with scissors, razors and other sharp objects. This matter because insurance can offset any emergency disputes you may have with a customer.
Type of Person Suited for this Work
- Being a successful barber requires you to be an outgoing person. This means you should be someone who is genuinely interested in other people. Never forget that the job is about communicating as much as it is about cutting hair.
- A good sense of humour is helpful. Another positive is having a memory for the names of customers, their interests and their history of haircuts.
- You need to be a confident person. This means you should be able to give advice in a persuasive and constructive manner.
- The best barbers are creative and bring imagination to their work.
- You should be a good team player. This is because most barber shops operate small teams who rely on one another.
- Someone who is open to corrections and criticism will make a better barber. In fact, learning from your mistakes can help you interact with customers in a personal and professional manner.
General Expected Working Hours
Most barbers work during the daytime and evening Monday to Saturday. Usually, barbershops offer rotas. This approach ensures that employees don’t always have to work every evening or every Saturday.
Location of Work
Most barbers work in barbershop premises. A smaller number travel to clients and cut hair at a client’s home. If you are a specialised barber, you can also be hired to work on a film set. Your working environment will always be physically active.
Barbers either work for themselves or for other barbers. The peak of the profession will usually be opening your own barbershop. You can do this either independently or as a franchise. There are usually two or more barbers working together in a barbershop. Usually, there is a hierarchy in seniority, with one being the boss and maybe some trainees as part of the team (in bigger barbershops). Attending workshops and seminars is a good way of expanding your knowledge as a barber. By doing this, you can learn from other professionals and can share your industry knowledge. Many barbers make the profession a lifelong job. With experience, you could become a senior barber. Highly trained barbers can also move into training or assessing student barbers. Some of the best also end up working in the movie or TV industries.