Barbers usually work with men who need their hair mustaches and beards cut washed styled and colored. Barbers work in traditional barber shops hair salons resorts and various vacation spots or on cruise ships. They can also provide services in nursing homes and retirement communities and some are employed by the government.
A large proportion of barbers are self-employed. Normally barbers lease space in salons hotels and spas and provide their own supplies and products. Aspiring barbers need a high school diploma or GED. Also most states in the U.S. require barbers to have a license which they can obtain by passing an exam once they a complete a nine-month training program. The exam for licensing consists of a written test as well as a practical test of styling skills.
Training programs are offered in some high schools and in vocational schools and community colleges where students can also earn an associates degree. There is a need for experienced barbers who also hold an associates or bachelors degree to work as instructors in private and vocational schools and community colleges. Most barbers work a 40-hour week but many especially those who are self-employed work longer hours that include evenings and weekends.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics employment prospects for barbers will improve in the coming decade especially at the entry level because more people are willing to pay for personal care services and todays barbers are retiring. As of 2008 barbers earned an average of $12.79 per hour including tips and in most cases entry-level jobs do not have benefits. However initially low earnings can increase considerably with experience skill and strong interpersonal skills that are needed to ability to attract and hold customers.