Barbering can be such a rewarding profession both creatively and financially. Barbering is continuously growing as an industry and thus has gained popularity as a profession, whether you are a complete beginner or career changer.
There are a few different ways to become a barber, but all of them have one common factor : Hunger and Drive! No matter which route you choose, you will have to demonstrate your drive to succeed in order to make this happen for you.
Let’s take a closer look at the 3 training routes you could take :
1. Private Courses (2 to 3 months)
How long are these courses?
There are a range of private courses offered for beginners. Intensive beginner courses should enable you to gain an NVQ qualification and also cut hair competently in a professional setting. These courses can be 9-12 weeks long depending on which level of qualification you wish to receive.
How much are private barbering courses?
With a private course, you are investing money into the highest standard of training. You will likely have more skilled trainers, smaller class sizes resulting in more individual support, and an abundance of practical training on live models. This is what your tuition goes towards. Yes, the cost of private courses is higher than further education colleges, but a £4,000-£5,500 training cost can typically be made back in 2 to 3 months’ work as a barber. You get what you pay for.
Not all private academies are alike, so you must be selective with your choice! Focus on schools dedicated to just barbering so that you know their resources are not shared with beauty and nails. Make sure your trainers are pro barbers by trade, and not hairdressers with limited cutting experience. Find a professional institution with structure and good management — you can quickly see this by visiting the school and meeting the staff. Make sure that you spend your time learning how to cut hair, and not on the streets trying to find models, as some schools make you do. Lastly, find a school with a good network of barbershop contacts to help you find a job after your training.
The London School of Barbering is able to train at a superior standard to colleges for several reasons, such as:
- We provide you with up to 120 models for real haircuts to help you develop as a barber, whereas your college will provide you about 20 haircuts. As they say — Practice makes perfect.
- Our classes are 6 to 9 students each. Colleges have over 20 students in each class, which means less 1-on-1 support from teachers.
- Our trainers are superb. We hire pro barbers with over 10 years experience to help you learn the tricks of the trade.
- We are barbering specific. Colleges run many other courses, spread resources thin, and don’t have the same expertise. All that we do is barbering, which means that we’re focused only on your training and results.
- We are located in central London and Manchester , so you will learn many advanced haircuts and styles. Our models request haircuts of all styles which helps prepare you for the real world and confidently handle any customer who walks through the door.
- Smaller class sizes, which means more 1-to-1 support
- More cutting experience on live models
- Can be completed in a few months
- Highly skilled educators who are solely barbering focused
- Learn extra techniques such as wet shaving which is not taught at college
- More expensive than college
Bottom-line: Private training is the best option to getting the skills you need to work as a barber.
Student Ash chose the route of private training, here’s what he had to say:
2. Apprenticeship (2 to 3 years)
How long is an apprenticeship in barbering?
An apprenticeship in barbering takes about 2 to 3 years to complete, and it is typically for people aged 16-18 years old. To enrol in an apprenticeship, you’ll need to find a barbershop that is willing to take on an apprentice as well as find a college that trains you once per week in order to get an NVQ.
What does a barbering apprentice do?
You likely will spend your first 6 to 12 months washing towels, sweeping floors, shampooing hair, answering phones, and helping around the shop. You’ll also get to see barbers at work and their typical day to day. Your actual training to cut hair will take place once a week at a local college over 2 or more years. At the shop, you will start cutting hair at earliest in 6 months, but sometimes it could be slower.
- You do not have to pay for it
- You gain an NVQ qualification
- It takes a long time to complete
- You only train once in the week, which can slow down your learning process
- You will only be doing 1-2 cuts a week
- A lot of time will be spent helping out in the shop before actually beginning to cut hair
- You may only learn one style of barbering from having only one person training you
- You may have to source your own models
Bottom-line: An apprenticeship offers only a limited amount of haircutting but it allows you to get a feel of how a salon works. There is no monetary cost for an apprenticeship, only your time and opportunity cost.
Simon Crawford who is a barber at super cool Johnny’s Chop Shop and also one of our former London School of Barbering students talks about how our barbering courses compare with apprenticeships.
3. Further Education College (1 to 2 years)
How long does a barber course take at college?
A further education college offers a wide array of courses, one of which may be a barbering course. These courses last 1 to 2 years.
How much is a barbering course at college?
These courses are generally free.
- Costs less than private training
- Training times are more flexible
- You gain an NVQ qualification
- Limited cutting experience
- Class sizes are large at 20 or more students, which means that you don’t get much 1-on-1 training.
- Students practice primarily on head blocks, and they only do about 1 or 2 cuts per week, often share models and have to source their own models. This makes it tough to build a rhythm and develop your skill when you’re only doing a couple haircuts per week.
- Colleges tend to be more theory-based with training and stick to book learning. However, barbering is a hands-on profession and requires lots of practical experience.
- There is often inconsistency in the teaching over the 2-year period, with teachers sometimes leaving midway. College classes are typically taught by hairdressers with limited real-life experience.
Bottom-line: You could graduate with limited cutting experience and without the skills needed to work as a barber.
Graduate Hamish talks about the difference between training with a further ed college and training at London School of Barbering
If you are looking to become a barber, or know someone who may make a good barber, then click below to see what it takes: