Believe it or not, mostly everyone has experienced something at one time or another, a brief moment where they have tried to style or cut their own hair or cut someone elses hair. Cutting hair is a universal skill that can be used literally ALL around the world, especially if you know how to cut all textures of hair.
My name is Alex Campbell, and i am a licensed Master Barber with over 23 years of barbering experience. I am very thankful for discovering the craft and i am very excited to be able to share with everyone the proper information on how to become a barber. First of all, you have to ask yourself:
“Why do you want to be a barber?” I wanted to become a barber for the independence, flexibility, the people you meet, the income, the diversity and more. The reason I say ask yourself this question is because a lot of people THINK they want to become barbers and then things don’t happen like they thought they would and then they want to stop and start pursuing other ventures.
Your reason for wanting to become a barber has to be so strong enough that you won’t let any type of negativity or doubt come into your mind and stop you from becoming a barber.
After you have figured out the “why”, the next step is to find a school or local barbershop for an apprenticeship program. If you choose to go to school, you will earn your license by attending school for 9 months to 2 years.
The amount of time it takes for you to finish school depends on if you go to school full time or part time. Once you have completed your hours and passed the exam, THE WORLD IS YOURS!!
If you choose an apprenticeship, make sure it is an established barbershop location so that you won’t be wasting your time. The person you work under should be the owner. The owner propbably won’t bail out on you any time soon.
Barber employees come and go too frequently to risk an apprenticeship under them. If you work under the owner, your chances might be a little bit greater for success as an apprentice. I was lucky and worked under a stable barber. But he too eventually left the shop, but not before i finished the program.
Apprenticeship programs are not always free. Sometimes the barber you work under may charge you a weekly fee. After all, he paid for license too. Make sure the fee is reasonable. $25-$50 a week. Also make sure you keep copies of your own transcripts in case the Master Barber starts to have a change of heart because of jealousy.
Sometimes when your clientele starts to pick up or your skills start to get better, the Master Barber will get a little jealous. So be careful and not try too hard to outshine the master! HA HA HA!!!!!!
Starting out, commission is the best until you can build up a clientele. Commission is when the owner gets a split on every haircut that you cut. For example, if the haircut is $10, and the split is 60/40. He will get $4.00 (40%) and you will get $6.00 (60%).
This is great when you are just starting out and you are trying to build a clientele. Now once your split to the owner passes $200 a week (50 haircuts a week),you need to request booth rental. At 50 haircuts a week on a 60/40 split, the owner makes $200(less products) and you make $300.
But don’t forget, if you are on commission, the owner is supposed to supply you with majority of your supplies. But it comes a point in commision structure when you know it is not worth paying more than $300-$500 a week in commissions.
Commissions keeps a barber tied to the hip of the owner. Booth rental is a lot smoother. Most of the time, when you pay for a booth, you work when you want to as long as you meet your weekly booth rental quota and that’s it. Booth rent should start out lower and increase over a 3-6 month period. A reasonable booth rental starting out is $100.00 week.
Some shops charge as much as $300.00 a week. You can make $2,000 a week and only have to pay $150.00 to $300.00 a week, and you take home about $1,500 to $1,700 and that’s it. If you make $2,000 a week on a commision structure, you keep 60% which is about $1,000 to $1,200.
When going into a new shop, don’t be over anxious. You have to make sure that the shop will be a good fit for you and where you are trying to go. Some barbers prefer to cut white hair, some barbers prefer to cut black hair, and some barbers want diversity. But at the end of the day, that is what is so great about our barber industry!! However you choose to pursue it, it is ALL up to you. I LOVE IT!!
Unless you are going to be working for a major corporation, don’t have high expectations as far as the structure of most barbershops. You will find a great barbershop maybe 1 out of 50. When i say great, i mean the lease is paid on time, the light bill is paid on time, the water is hot, the heat and a/c works, the owner is not sparatically increasing booth rental, you have supplies to sell for extra income, health plan, customer service, nice decor, clean atmosphere and anything else that is a benefit. I just gave you an example of maybe 1 shop out of 50 that can be structured this way.
The bad shops will have management problems if there is any manager at all, lights will be shut off from time to time, no hot water, no heat or a/c, the landlord is always stopping by for rent, customers are not happy, barbers are fighting, booth rent is not consistent, the barbershop is always filthy and the list goes on and on.
So please choose carefully. Go in and get a haircut or send someone in to get a haircut before you apply for the job. Don’t let the owner know that you are a barber until you have experienced how he runs his business.
A FEW THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR:
1. IS THE SHOP NEAT AND CLEAN
2. WERE YOU GREETED
3. DID YOU FILL OUT AN APPLICATION
4. ARE ALL OF THE LIGHTS IN THE CEILING WORKING & BRIGHT
5. ARE THERE SPACE HEATERS EVERYWHERE (USUALLY MEANS THERE IS NO HEAT)
6. IS IT HOT IN THE SHOP IN THE SUMMER (USUALLY MEANS NO A/C)
7. HOW DOES THE SHOP SMELL
8. ARE THERE ANY PRODUCTS TO SELL
Once you have made your decision as to where you will be working, you will need your tools for success. There are many types of clippers, trimmers, razors, talc, astringents, smocks, hair cutting capes, etc. These are barber tools that you will invest in along the way. You will need about $1,000 to get everything you need.
If you do nothing else, in order to be successful as a barber, HAVE A CONSISTENT WORK SCHEDULE and get ALL of your clients contact information and give them your contact information too. How does it make you feel to go to a 24 hour WAL-MART and the doors are closed.
You get a little upset. Why? Because WAL-WART told you that they would be open 24 hours and that is what you expect. So now what do you do? You find another store to shop with at that time. The same thing will happen to you in the barber business. If you don’t show up to work when you say you are going to show up, the customers will just go to another barber. BE CONSISTENT AND RELIABLE.