July 18, 2023

How to Become a Barber

How to Become a Barber

Are you passionate about cutting hair and helping people to transform their look? Do you have an eye for the latest trends? Are you great with people? You could make a career out of your passion by retraining as a barber. 

If this sounds like something you'd like to explore, then this blog post is for you. We’ll give you all the information and advice needed to begin your journey into becoming an expert barber. 

With the right tools, techniques, tips and strategies in hand, connecting with clients can be no problem. Here’s everything that aspiring barbers need to know about turning their talent into success.

Understand the legal requirements for becoming a barber in the UK

If you're considering a career as a barber in the UK, it's important to know the legal requirements involved. Firstly, you'll need to complete a recognised barbering qualification, such as a NVQ Level 2 or 3 in barbering.

You'll also need to register with a professional body, such as the Hairdressing Council or the British Barbers’ Association. In addition to this, you'll need to hold a valid licence to operate as a barber. 

This licence is obtained from your local council and may involve additional training in health and safety, infection control and data protection. Overall, becoming a professional barber requires dedication, hard work and meeting the necessary legal requirements.

Research reputable barbering schools and courses

Research reputable barbering schools and courses

Barbering is a profession that requires not only skill but also a deep understanding of the latest techniques and trends. There are three main routes into becoming a barber. These are:

  • Private courses, which take 2-3 months to complete and cost around £4,000 to £5,000. This is an intensive training course that will lead to an NVQ.
  • An apprenticeship, which takes 2-3 years to complete. This route is free, and is typically part time. You’ll work alongside a mentor to achieve your NVQ.
  • Further education college, which takes 1-2 years. The courses are generally free and will result in an NVQ. 

With so many barbering schools and hair stylist courses across the country, it can be challenging to find the right one that suits your needs. From prestigious institutes to online courses, there are plenty of options to choose from. 

However, the key is to research thoroughly and identify reputable institutions that have a proven track record of producing talented and successful barbers. With the right training, you can not only hone your skills but also embark on an exciting career that offers immense job satisfaction and growth opportunities.

You need to find a course that will not only give you the practical and theoretical knowledge you need to become a successful barber, but one that will also give you plenty of hands-on experience. 

If you struggle to get experience through your course, you could practise at home with a head block to help develop your own style and technique.

Find a mentor

Find a mentor

Becoming proficient in any skill takes time, practice, and patience. Whether it's learning to play an instrument, speaking a new language, or mastering a craft, the journey towards proficiency is long and challenging. 

The same holds true for aspiring professionals who want to enter highly competitive industries such as design, film, or tech. How does one gain experience and build a polished portfolio that stands out from the crowd? 

The answer is simple – find a mentor. Working with a mentor will give you the real-world exposure and guidance that you need to make your way into the barbering world. It can be fiercely competitive, so training under a specific person that you admire and trust will give you a competitive edge.

This method provides an opportunity to work under the guidance of experienced mentors and learn the ropes in a real-world setting. It's a chance to put theory into practice, develop critical skills, and gain the kind of hands-on experience that can't be acquired in a classroom. 

In exchange for free help around their barbershop, you'll have the opportunity to build a solid portfolio that showcases your work and demonstrates your ability to tackle challenging projects. It's a stepping stone towards a rewarding career and a great way to kickstart your professional journey.

Invest in the right tools and equipment for the job

Invest in the right tools and equipment for the job

Investing in the right tools and equipment is crucial for achieving success in any industry or profession. When you have the right tools at your disposal, you can work more efficiently and produce higher quality results. 

You can certainly get started with second hand equipment, but once you start offering your services to paying customers, you’ll want to invest in the latest equipment and make sure you know how to maintain it.

In general, a barber needs the following equipment as a minimum:

  • Clippers and trimmers
  • Scissors
  • Combs
  • Hair dryer
  • Straight razor
  • Towels
  • Sterilising and disinfecting supplies

You might need to try out a few different brands to find out what works for you. While your mentor or teachers might offer their own preferences, be open to trying out different things. You might discover that another brand offers better features or flexibility that is more in line with your style.

Practise, practise, practise

Practise, practise, practise

Mastering the art of beauty is all about perfecting the right techniques. Whether it's cutting, trimming, styling, or shaving, each method requires a unique skill set that only comes with time and experience. 

With every technique, it's crucial to understand the tools and products used and ensure that they're handled with care. On top of that, make sure to always keep an eye on the latest trends and incorporate them into your work.

Whether you're a professional or just starting, these techniques are guaranteed to help elevate your skills and make your clients feel their best.

You might need to ask friends if you can try out techniques on them, or you could offer your services for free online. Some people simply want to save money on their haircut and don’t mind if it takes a little longer.

Make sure you document all of the work you do so that you can use this when the time comes to look for a job.

Hone your customer service skills

Hone your customer service skills

Good customer service is a crucial element in successful business interactions. With many choices available, customers are more likely to support businesses with friendly and helpful staff. 

Hone your customer service skills to provide an excellent customer experience and set your brand apart. A positive client experience can be the difference between a one-time customer and a lifelong loyal supporter of your business.

You need to be able to communicate with ease with customers and quickly build a rapport. This will help them to let you know what they are looking for so that you aren’t trying to guess what they want.

Most people go into this line of work because they are naturally curious and love getting to know new people. The important thing to remember is that you need to remain professional, even if the client seems at ease. You can be friendly without blurring the professional line.

Find a job, or go freelance

Find a job, or go freelance

Many barbers build their experience by working for another salon. This will take some of the pressure off by taking care of a lot of the overheads. However, it means that you won’t set your own hours or be able to control your earning potential.

That said, working for someone else has some distinct advantages. It typically means that you’ll have guaranteed work, since the barbershop will be responsible for bringing in clients. You’ll also be able to make the most of training available through your employer.

Once you have built a reputation for yourself, you can start to think about going freelance. This will give you flexibility over your hours and earning potential. However, it also means that you’ll need to think about more of the business side of things.

As a freelancer, you’ll have to manage your accounts, take care of marketing, make sure you’re insured, take care of your own equipment, hire a chair or your own premises, and build your client base.

This can be a lot of work at the start of your career, but it can also be hugely rewarding. Once your freelance business is established, you’ll have complete control over the direction of your business. Learn more about managing your own hair salon or barber shop on our blog.

Key takeaway

Overall, becoming a barber in the UK takes dedication and hard work. Taking courses in barbering, getting an apprenticeship, investing in the right tools and equipment, and practising techniques like shaving and styling are all absolutely essential steps to help you achieve success in your career path. 

But just as important is honing your customer service skills, as customers need to have a positive experience every time they come into the shop. All these elements are crucial to building a successful career path for any aspiring barber in the UK. 

With hard work, determination and dedication, you can be sure that you will soon be well on your way to unlocking the vast potential of this exciting profession.

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