The art of barbering can be traced as far back as ancient Asia or even earlier still. The Latin word "barba" means beard, hence the origin of our modern-day barber. Early records indicate that the barbers were the foremost men in their tribe and served both as medicine men and priests. Superstitions held by these early peoples believed that every individual had good and bad spirits, which inhabited the body via the hair on their heads. Thus the barber's role was extremely important, not only in everyday life but also in religious ceremonies, according to Barber Pole.com.
Chicagoan A.B. Moler established the first barber school in 1893, the first of its kind in the world. It enjoyed great success from the very beginning. Most of us recognize the red, white, and blue poles (which in its early days indicated bloodletting services offered by barbers) seen outside most barber shops in the United States. While they may not be as common as in the early 1900's, there are still barber shops open across the country.
As defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), barbers cut, trim, shampoo, and style hair primarily for male clients. Fitting hairpieces, facial shaving, or administering scalp treatments are a few of the ancillary services provided by barbers. Perms and color services are not limited to women; in a number of states, barbers are licensed to provide these services too, along with the occasional skin care or nail treatment.
So You Think You Can Barber?
If you want to help men achieve a clean-cut look, you may want to consider barber training. As per the BLS, all states require barbers to be licensed. To qualify for a license, it is highly recommended that aspiring barbers graduate from a state-licensed barber school (in some states, barbers must also have a high school diploma or GED). Full-time barber training typically lasts for nine months, sometimes resulting in an associate degree. After a prospective barber has completed the state-approved program, he must take the licensing examination required by his state of residence.
According to the BLS, the exam typically consists of three parts: a written portion, a practical portion to test styling skills, and an oral examination. In a majority of states, training in cosmetology can be applied toward a barbering license (or vice versa); some states combine the two. Data from the BLS in 2006 estimated that barbers (along with cosmetologists) held about 677,000 jobs, primarily in barber shops. Nearly half of barbers are self-employed and own their own barber shop. Statistics project that employment for barbers will grow slightly faster than the national average for other occupations. As a barber, the low end of hourly pay is $7.56, with the high end at $19.51, and annual salaries ranging from $15,720 to $40,850. If pursuing barber training appeals to you, start seeking state-licensed schools now.