How to Become a Barber

Becoming a barber is the way to go

Below are 3 training options that you may consider to becoming a barber. There are many ways to become a barber, and they differ based on training duration, training quality, teachers, and cutting experience. Bottom-line, the more haircuts that you do, then the more experience that you’ll get to prepare you for the real world as a barber.

1. Private intensive courses (2 months)

Bottom-line: Private training is the best option to getting the skills needed to work as a barber. Not all private academies are alike, however, so be selective with your choice.

In a private course, you are investing money into yourself by selecting the best. You will likely to have more skilled trainers, smaller class sizes so more individual support, and more real practice on models. This is what your tuition goes towards. Yes, the cost of private courses is higher than further education colleges, but the £4,000 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, however, so 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:
  • You are provided about 150 models for real haircuts to help you develop as a barber, whereas your college will provide you about 20 haircuts. The more practice you have then the better that you become.
  • Classes are 6 to 10 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, so you will learn many advanced haircuts and styles. Our models request haircuts of all kinds which helps prepare you for the real world and dealing with that next customer who walks in the door.

Listen to some of our students who choose London School of Barbering to learn the barber trade and take the shorter route through private education:

2. Apprenticeship (2 to 3 years)

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.

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.

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 will have to source your own models and do maybe 1 or 2 cuts per week. Another downside of an apprenticeship if that you only learn the techniques of the barber that trains you.

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)

Bottom-line: You could graduate with limited cutting experience and without the skills needed to work as a barber.

A further education college offers a wide array of courses, of which one may be a barbering course. These courses last 1 to 2 years. The advantages of a college is that it typically costs less than private training, and classes run during evenings which might suit your schedule.

There are downsides to college training — in short, you graduate with limited cutting experience and without the skills needed to work as a barber, such as wet shaving an advanced hair cutting techniques. This is due to several reasons:

  • 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 headblocks, 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.
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