Exploring this Job

If you are interested in this career, try finding part-time employment in a barbershop or beauty salon to gain exposure to the nature of the work and the working conditions. Another avenue of exploration might be to call a barber school and ask for an opportunity to tour the facilities, observe classes, and question instructors. Of course, nothing compares to talking to someone with firsthand experience; a chat with a local barber is a sure and easy way to obtain helpful and informative feedback.

The Job

Most barbers in barbershops focus primarily on the basics of men's grooming needs: hair cutting and trimming, shampooing, styling, and beard and mustache trimming and shaping. Many include a brief facial, scalp, and/or neck massage. While some barbers do perform other services, such as tinting or bleaching, most find that few of their customers seek such services, and those that do are more likely to head for a full-service salon. Shaving is far less common in barbershops today than it once was. The safety razor has made shaving at home a relatively quick and easy task, and the art of the straight-edge shave is little more than a relic of tonsorial history.

Most customers who frequent barbershops are men, but some women—particularly those with short hair—do patronize barbers. Likewise, most barbers are men, but the field includes some female barbers as well.

The equipment barbers utilize—clippers, razors, shears, combs, brushes, and so forth—must be kept in antiseptic condition. Often barbers must supply their own equipment. Barbers who operate their own shops must handle the details of answering phones and setting appointments, ordering supplies and paying bills, maintaining equipment, and keeping records. If they employ other barbers, they are responsible for the hiring and performance of their staff as well. Barbershops range from one-person operations to larger shops with many chairs and operators.