Barbering Basics: What Does It Take To Be A Professional Barber?

November 1, 2023 BY

If you can strike that balance, you stand to enjoy a barbering career for years to come.

There’s nothing quite like getting a good haircut. As you leave the barbershop, the sun seems to shine on your face, no matter the weather. Friends gush compliments. Strangers gush compliments. It’s definitely a far-cry from your youth when getting your haircut was only bested by a trip to the dentist as things you hated most. 

That said, if you did enjoy a visit to the barber, perhaps you’ve carried since a quiet interest in wielding the clippers and the straight razor yourself. Well, there’s no better time to make that interest a little less quiet. Barbering is as popular now as it’s ever been, carving out its own hybrid of vocation and lifestyle. But what does it take to become a professional barber? This handy guide will give you an idea. 


  • Training is essential

Yes, you can learn how to cut hair on your own, the same way you can teach yourself to cook. But, at some point, you’re gonna need legit training to make sure you’ve got everything locked in – from scissor techniques to learning how to use beard oil.

You have two paths to choose from—initially, at least—to reach this level. Either you take a course at a registered organisation, like TAFE, or you secure yourself an apprenticeship. It’s a matter of preference, which one you choose. Both will give you the skills and knowledge you need to thrive as a barber, from cut and clipper techniques to beard and moustache grooming, and completing complicated men’s haircuts like high fades

By getting professional training, you set a solid foundation for your barbering future. 


  • Then add passion and creativity

We pair these two attributes together because, frankly, we believe that neither can exist without the other. There’s nowhere to go if you’ve all the passion in the world and no flair for execution, just as there’s nothing to gain from being creative but having no drive. And when it comes to barbering, you need a healthy dose of both to succeed. 

One, you need the passion to cut hair. Barbering is like any other style-conscious pursuit; there’ll be times when you get to do lots of creative stuff, and there’ll be times when you have to do lots of boring, logistical stuff. For every customer who comes in wanting to experiment with their hair, another will come in wanting ‘the usual, thanks’. That’s why you need to keep both flames burning, so that you can push through the dull jobs and relish the exciting jobs. 


  • Plus communication skills

Unless you have dreams of being a barber in the army, you’re gonna need to be able to chat with your customers, as not everyone wants or needs the exact same fade. Communication skills are essential to any job, but they’re especially vital if you’re a  barber, as you can have as many as a dozen customers in a day. That means you have the potential to deliver a dozen different hair styles. And to deliver each perfectly, you have to know how to talk with your customer. Otherwise, it’s a guessing game, and no one wants to have their hair cut by a barber who’s making it up as they go. 


  • Enjoying people and community is important, too

That said, as a barber, it’s not enough to be a great communicator. You have to enjoy communicating. In other words, you have to enjoy the company of other people. The days will feel long if you dread the arrival of every new customer and the conversation they carry with them. 

Enjoying people can take on a different meaning depending on where you work. If you work in a city barbershop, you might love nothing more than meeting a variety of different people each day, whereas in a small town it might be the banter you share from weekly regulars. Either way, there’s an element of community building to barbering; if you can make the visit enjoyable for customers, they’ll likely come back. 


  • Entrepreneurial spirit

Barbering is one of those wonderful jobs where, if you put the time in and build a solid customer base, you can enjoy flexible working hours. Not everyone has time to get their hair cut during office hours, which is why many barbers are open in the evening. While you mightn’t always want to cut your hair when it’s dinner time, if your day’s appointments are during the evening, it can free the day for you to enjoy otherwise. 

This flexibility can work brilliantly in your favour if you have an outdoor pursuit such as surfing or mountain bike riding. And with everyone else at work, you’re likely to enjoy those pursuits even more. It’s about working out what works best for your lifestyle, then making the adjustments for it to happen. 


In the end, it’s not just skills that’ll help you succeed as a barber, important as they are. Like a bartender, making drinks is not enough; you need the panache and the patience to both thrive and to compel customers to return. If you can strike that balance, you stand to enjoy a barbering career for years to come.


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