The requirements to become a master barber differ from state to state. Some states do not use the term, while others call all licensed barbers ‘master barbers’ to distinguish them from apprentices. Master barbers are licensed to cut the hair of their customers, who are usually male. They may also shave clients and perform scalp treatments and other grooming services. Here is a list of the basic steps required to become a master barber.
- Most states, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, require graduation from a state-approved barber or cosmetology school as a condition for obtaining a barber’s license (www.bls.org). Students usually must have a high school diploma or a GED in order to enroll. At barber school, students learn to cut and style hair, shave customers, perform skin care treatments, temporarily remove unwanted hair and color hair.
- In some states, a new graduate of a barber school must complete an apprenticeship before being licensed as a master barber. The apprentice barber must pass a written and practical exam in order to obtain an apprentice license. The apprentice must work for a specified period, generally 18 months to two years, under the supervision of a master barber.
A master barber must pass both a written and practical exam in order to obtain a state license. The written test for a master barber’s license may include questions on chemical treatments, sanitary practices and skin care. In the practical exam, the test taker will have to demonstrate skills in hair cutting and other procedures. Testing is required even if the barber has completed an apprenticeship.
- A person who has passed the tests to become a master barber must pay a fee to the state and complete application forms in order to receive a license. In some states, the master barber must pass a physical examination and show proof of completion of a course in infectious diseases from a state-approved school. Most states have a minimum age requirement. Some states require a criminal background check. Licenses must be renewed regularly.
- Many barbers opt for more than the minimum training required for licensing. Barbers who wish to own their own shops may be interested in associate degree programs that include business education. Most master barbers take classes throughout their careers in order to keep up with hairstyling trends and techniques.
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