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California Occupational Guide Number 78
Interest Area: 5-C


BARBERS perform a variety of services to improve the appearance and condition of customers' hair, but their main job is cutting hair, adapting current styles to their customers' wants.

Barbers who are hair stylists specialize in shaping hair to suit the individual's facial features, hair quality and life style. After consulting with the customer, a stylist shampoos, conditions, cuts, dries and shapes the hair, using the latest techniques. Hair styling requires greater skill, care and a lot more time than regular haircutting.

Many Barbers also curl, color, or straighten hair, using special chemical solutions and equipment. Barbers also give shaves, shape and trim beards and mustaches and give facial or scalp massages. Barbers may keep card files on their clientele. After each visit they note work done, products used and fees charged. A barber may recommend and sell the products used by the shop.

Barbers are responsible for keeping scissors, combs, and other instruments sterilized and in good condition. They clean their work stations and may sweep the shop. Shop owners and managers have additional responsibilities: ordering supplies, keeping records, paying bills, and hiring and supervising personnel.


Barber shops are located in many different localities: residential neighborhoods, downtown business districts, suburban shopping centers, airports and hotels.

Shops ordinarily are attractive, clean and well lighted. They vary in size from one to five or more chairs. Large hair styling salons may be divided into different work areas, including styling stations, shampoo rooms, and hair analysis laboratories. In most shops, Barbers do their work in one, relatively small area. The job is not strenuous, but since Barbers stand for most of the day, with their arms at shoulder level, it may be physically tiring. They occasionally develop allergic reactions to hair processing chemicals. Routine use of protective rubber gloves generally prevents this problem.

Barbers may belong to the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, AFL-CIO in Southern California or the Retail Clerks Union in the northern part of the State. Fewer than half of the shops in the State are covered by union contracts.

Barbers usually provide their own tools and basic supplies-clippers, scissors, combs, and smocks-which cost about $200. Stylists are responsible for their shampoo, solutions, and styling products.


The following information is from the California Projections of Employment published by the Labor Market Information Division.

   Estimated number of workers in 1993 4,540
   Estimated number of workers in 2005 1,140
   Projected Growth 1993-2005 -6%
   Estimated openings due to separations by 2005 400
(These figures do not include self-employment nor openings due to turnover.)

There are over 17,000 Barbers licensed by the State of California; however, the actual number of Barbers who are working at their trade is unknown. Employment indicators show that jobs are declining. However, most Barbers are self-employed, either in their own shops or in shops where they rent a chair from the owner, and are not counted in employment surveys.

Barber schools report that employers' demand for trained Barbers far exceeds the supply of graduates despite full classes.

kinds of jobs. In addition, there will always be jobs for Barbers with creative abilities, sound job skills and a faithful following.


Barbers generally earn either a commission or a set fee for each service performed or a guaranteed weekly wage, whichever is higher. Commissions range from 40 percent to 80 percent of the gross earnings of the station at which the Barber works. Typical hourly earnings for beginners start at minimum wage, but the median wage for Barbers in California is $5.45 per hour. Earnings usually depend on the size, type and location of the shop. With experience, Barbers are capable of earning up to $20.00 or more an hour. Barbers may receive a commission on products they sell, and most of them receive tips. State law requires that overtime be paid at time and a half or double time. Fringe benefits are minimal; very few Barbers receive benefits such as paid vacations or medical insurance.

The basic workweek for Barbers is 40 hours, usually including evenings or weekends. Days and hours vary with different shops or salons, depending upon location and clientele.


Barbers practicing in California must be licensed by the State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology. Those being examined must be at least 17 years old, have a ninth grade (or equivalent) education and complete an approved barber course. Graduates take a written, oral and practical examination in all aspects of barbering, including styling.

The second way to qualify for a license is through a two-year apprenticeship program sponsored by the Joint Apprenticeship Training Committees (JATC). The program includes classroom instruction and full-time, paid on-the-job training. Apprentices work under the close supervision of a licensed Barber in a licensed shop. At the end of two years, they are eligible to take the State Board exam. Apprenticeships are available in many metropolitan areas through the California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Apprenticeship Standards.


In some areas, the JATC, barber colleges or manufacturers sponsor advanced courses for registered Barbers wanting to improve their skills. Some experienced Barbers become shop managers or operate their own shops. A few complete the additional requirements to become licensed as barber college instructors. Others get jobs with manufacturers of barber products, demonstrating new styles and techniques.


Job seekers should ask for leads from their college, since employers often contact schools when openings are available. Some employers may visit schools to watch students work on customers' hair before they hire. Job seekers should apply directly to shops, contact their union and register with the California Employment Development Department Job Services. Jobs are also listed in newspaper help wanted ads. Some employers, particularly in large shops, do not need to actively recruit. They interview job seekers who apply in person and contact those who qualify when suitable openings occur.


For information about job opportunities as reservation and transportation ticket agents, write to individual airline companies. Addresses are available from:

California State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology Examiners
400 R Street, Suite 4080
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 445-7061

California Department of Industrial Relations
Division of Apprenticeship Standards
2424 Arden Way, Suite 160
Sacramento, CA 95825
(916) 263-2877

California Barber College Association
2645 El Camino Avenue
Sacramento, CA 95821
(916) 482-0871


   Cosmetologists No. 58


DOT (Dictionary of Occupational Titles, 4th Ed. 1991)
   Barber 330.371-010
   Barber Apprentice 330.371-014

   (Occupational Employment Statistics) System
       Barbers 680020

       State of California
       Employment Development Department
       Labor Market Information Division
       Information Services Group
       (916) 262-2162.

Note:  This is NOT a job opening.  The purpose of This California Occupational Guide is to provide you with useful information to help you make career decisions.   If you are searching for a job, go to: