Barbering is a career that’s evolved in recent years. Men no longer just want a ‘short back and sides’; instead, they’re looking for stylish haircuts that reflect their personal image. As such, it’s a creative and varied role, and no two days are ever the same.
There are two main routes to becoming a barber – studying a private course or becoming an apprentice. This guide explains everything you need to know about working in this industry, what skills you’ll require, and how to hit the ground running once you’re qualified.
What’s it like to be a barber?
Being a barber is fast-paced, dynamic and social. You’ll be working in a busy environment, and serving a variety of clients from all sorts of different backgrounds.
If you love following the latest male fashion trends, and you’re a proactive, enthusiastic person, this could be the perfect career for you. Being a good communicator is a plus too, as you’ll be talking to customers and colleagues throughout the day.
Make no mistake, it can be demanding. Some days, you’ll be expected to work until late in the evening, and you’ll need to deal with a heavy workload from time to time. However, the rewards are enormous too. In this role, you can be creative and innovative, and you’ll be helping your customers to feel great about themselves.
Initially, you’ll either be a trainee or apprentice. Your daily tasks will include:
- Sweeping the floor
- Restocking the towels and hair products
- Ensuring work areas are clean and tidy
- Providing clients with tea or coffee
- Welcoming customers at reception
- Booking appointments on the phone or in person
- Washing customers’ hair
When you become a professional barber, you’ll be given a lot more responsibility. Your jobs may include:
- Cutting and styling hair
- Trimming and styling facial hair
- Shaving services
- Taking payments
- Carrying out initial consultations
- Ordering stock
- Offering treatments for the hair and scalp
- Colouring hair (in some Barbershops)
The most common route into barbering is to work in a Barbershop. When you’ve got some experience, you may choose to set up your own mobile barbering service, and travel to your clients’ homes. These aren’t the only options, of course. You could work in:
- TV / film / theatre
- A health spa or fitness club
- A spa on a cruise ship
- Training or teaching others
If you’d like to find out more about what it’s like to be a barber, The National Careers Service website has lots of useful information about typical working hours, average salaries, responsibilities and more.
The key skills you’ll need as a barber
You don’t require a wealth of GCSEs, A-Levels, or a degree to become a barber. Even if you’ve just got a few GSCEs, it’s likely you’ll still be accepted for a barbering apprenticeship or work-ready private course.
You do, however, need to have some key skills. Here are just a few of them:
- Focus and dedication
- Dexterity and coordination
- Organisational skills
- Ability to communicate with a wide range of people
- Creativity and adaptability
- Passion for keeping up-to-date with the latest male fashion trends
- Ability to work solo, and with others
There are some big differences between gaining a qualification through a barber apprenticeship or a private course, but both require high levels of commitment and motivation. You’ll be expected to:
- Be punctual
- Attend every day of your course or work
- Focus during classes, demonstrations & tutorials
- Be respectful of all the educators, hairdressers and barbers that you work with
Barbering is a great career, and if you want to succeed, you’ll need to be driven and focused. This is the only way to ensure you master all the skills needed to thrive in the business.
What are the entry requirements?
In order to get a job in a reputable Barbershop, you’ll need a recognised industry qualification. This can be obtained via a barber apprenticeship or a private barber course.
The standard UK qualification is a level 2 NVQ Diploma in Barbering. During your NVQ course, you’ll be expected to complete coursework, observe demonstrations, and undertake practical work. Assessment is in the form of exams, coursework and formal observation. If you choose an NVQ apprenticeship programme, you’ll also undergo an end-point assessment.
At Alan d, you won’t need any qualifications to be accepted for an NVQ level 2 barbering course under the Apprenticeship programme.
Which should you choose – an apprenticeship or a private course?
There are advantages to both private courses and apprenticeships – and the right option depends on your current situation and requirements. Here’s a brief outline of both.
Private barbering courses
Taking a private course offers several benefits. These include:
- It’s the fastest and most efficient option. If you’re looking for a swift entry into barbering, this is it. Some beginner’s barbering courses take as little as five weeks to complete.
- Focused teaching. Your course has been designed to provide you with all the knowledge you’ll need to succeed as a barber.
- You’ll learn in a realistic working environment.
- You can learn part-time. Barbering courses can be part-time, which means you can carry on working while you’re training.
If you have no barbering experience, you can start with a foundation course, you can then extend your knowledge with an intermediate course, the Level 3 Diploma in Barbering, or if you want the full qualification including wet shaving then you should choose the comprehensive level 2 NVQ Diploma in Barbering.
An apprenticeship programme gives you the chance to earn while you learn. It typically takes around 18 to 21 months to obtain your qualification, and there are some great benefits to taking this route. These include:
- It gives you a ‘real’ view of the industry. This is the best way to find out what it’s really like to work in a busy barbershop. You’ll also have the chance to observe professional barbers, and learn from them.
- You’ll be paid. All apprentices are given a wage while they train. The amount you’ll earn depends on how old you are, and whether or not you’ve completed the first year of the apprenticeship.
- It’s a varied way to learn. Our barbering apprenticeships usually consist of a set number of days working in a barbershop, one week each month or one day a week at one of the Alan d schools. During your training days, you’ll have a chance to chat to other apprentices and share your experiences.
– It’s common for barbershops to continue employing their apprentices, once they’ve earned their qualification.
You can find out more about being an apprentice and whether or not it’s the right option for you here.
What’s the next step?
After qualifying, whether you’re a private student or have completed your apprenticeship, your professional development doesn’t need to end there. There are many ways to boost your skillset and enhance your industry knowledge.
How to apply for barber jobs
There are many different ways to find a job as a barber. These include:
- Major job-search platforms, such as Indeed, Totaljobs and Reed
- The government ‘find a job’ page
- Your local newspaper
It’s also acceptable to drop your CV at local barbershops, and ask if they have any vacancies for qualified barbers. Even if they don’t at the time, it’s likely they’ll keep your CV on file, and be in contact if an open position comes up in the future.
Barbering courses in London and Ipswich
If you’re keen to start a career in barbering, Alan D offer an extensive range of barber courses. You can study our courses at either our London Hair Academy or Ipswich Hair Academy – to find out more, contact us today by filling out this online form, or by calling 0800 500 3147.