Job Description (What the job involves)
Barber shops were common place up until the 1940’s; after which they experienced a decline as razors began to be mass produced. Visiting the barber became less convenient as razors were readily available and a trip to the Barber was more of a special occasion than a required necessity. The introduction of unisex hair salons also contributed to the decline.
However Barbers are becoming increasingly popular at present. Men can often feel intimidated by female dominated hair salons and prefer to visit an all-male environment.
What does a Barber do?
A barber specialises in male hair grooming; which includes cutting and colouring hair, trimming and shaving of beards and moustaches and sometimes even eyebrow waxing when required. They need to be specifically skilled in cutting men’s hair and familiar with certain techniques pertaining to male grooming, including clipper work, scissors-over-comb and hot lather shaving with a straight blade.
Upsides and Downsides
In life, everyone needs a haircut, and being a barber is a busy and full on career which is very rewarding. A Barber can expect to work long hours which may include weekends or evening shifts. This is always dependant on the salon in which they will work; but since many people have full schedules, evening and weekends are usually the busiest time for a Barber. Barbers spend long periods of time on their feet and must build up stamina so as not to get fatigued during work. Barbers get to meet all kinds of very different characters during their working day which adds plenty of variety. Being a barber is a fun and creative career. There is often instant satisfaction and reward as clients leave happy with their new haircut.
Skills and Personal Qualities
- A people person. Barbers interact with people every day and therefore must love talking and engaging with people from different backgrounds and walks of life.
- Good conversation skills. They should love to make conversation and be able to build relationships with their clientele and instil trust so that their clients will want to come back to them every time.
- Good listeners. They must show genuine interest in what their clients are saying and must be good listeners who are able to follow instructions from their clients.
- Creative. Barbers need to have natural creativity, as well as a steady hand for creating excellent hairstyles that their clients are happy with.
- Time management skills. As a barber’s day runs to appointments, a barber must have excellent time keeping skills and be punctual.
- Fit and healthy. Since a barber is required to be on his/her feet throughout the day, they should be fit and healthy with lots of energy.
A Barber requires knowledge of past and current hairstyles and trends, an understanding of hair and skin types and knowledge of health and hygiene regulations. They need to have a fairly wide range of knowledge on skin analysis and different skin disorders, so they can prescribe the right products to their clients and know which products may react with certain scalp conditions.
A Barber can study at a specialised barber college or do an apprenticeship to gain hands on work experience. Qualifications gained from college will be an NVQ level 2 in barbering. Intensive 8 week courses are available as well as longer diploma courses.
Opportunities and Progression
Barbers may also work on film/television sets, move into management or work in a college teaching barbering to students.
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Potential Salary and Benefits
Entry level Barbers can expect to earn between £7000 – £12,000 as a basic salary plus commission.
Barbers with over ten years’ experience can earn from £15,000 up to £25,000 plus a commission structure. The ‘per hour’ salary of a Barber is between £7 to £13.
When a barber is newly qualified he/she can look for work in a male grooming salon; or could start out by renting a chair within an existing barber shop. Both will help the barber in gaining exposure and experience. If the intention is to one day open up their own salon, renting a chair is a great place to start out. It is an excellent way to save money as the rent will be considerably lower and also a great way of building up a clientele as word of mouth referrals are vitally important in this industry. Barbers may also work on film/television sets, move into management or work in a college teaching barbering to students.