Do I need a license to barber and style hair?

Are you a good hairstylist or thinking of starting a career in hair?

When starting any new occupation, the first step is to find out what’s required. We check what degrees and licensing options are available in that field. 

Obviously, practicing medicine or law would require extensive education and licensing by law. If you want to be a chef, artist, designer, or have a career in marketing, however, a degree or certificate would help. But, it’s not always necessary in order to achieve success and compensation in those fields and many more.

So, where does a career in barbering and styling fall when it comes to license or no license?

First of all, let’s look at the clear fact of the matter.

In most states, cutting hair for money requires a person to first obtain a barber or a cosmetology license. Either of these licenses allow the holder to cut hair professionally in addition to providing other services. How to acquire said licenses varies from state to state. 

In Florida, for example, according to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, a person may perform any barbering of cosmetology service, including cutting hair, without a license as long as no form of compensation is received. A person must have either a valid barber or cosmetology license any time a haircut is performed for compensation.

That being said, you have a wonderful opportunity to expand your knowledge in the field of hair without a license. But, barbering is hands down NOT a career you can pursue if you want to get PAID.

The Unlicensed Barber Stylist

Now you know, an unlicensed barber cannot work for pay in the United States. Does that mean you can’t cut your friends’ and family’s hair? No! It’s a HUGE leg up to be able to give whoever you want a new haircut or style. As long as you don’t charge, you have no legal consequences to worry about. Offer free services and you get to LEARN and perfect your skills.

There is a thin line between getting a haircut from a trusted family member, however, and getting a style/cut from any unlicensed ‘pro’. There are many barber shops who illegally employ unlicensed barbers and pay them a nominal portion as compared to a licensed barber. This kind of ‘under the table’ pay is what the industry of hair professionals is constantly trying to weed out. First of all, they are not trained in state regulations. Furthermore, they are taken advantage of by corner cutting business owners.

If an unlicensed person is offering chemical services, forget about it! Would you trust a an unlicensed doctor treating your body? Treat your scalp like the rest of your body. The biggest tip we have is, every time you go to a new barber stylist, ASK them if they are licensed. It’s important for your health AND the health of the hair industry, full of hard working, wage earning, educated professionals.

The Licensed Barber Stylist

In the 1950’s, barely anyone was licensed to cut hair. Now, we know better. What do we know? Hair cutting comes with risk. There has been more research on hair diseases since the 50’s. We also know about blood borne diseases. Now, anyone touching another person’s hair needs to know them, as required by all 50 states. And for good reason.

Furthermore, salons and barbershops offer REGULATED chemical treatments now. A barber stylist needs to know those regulations so as not to harm their client. Licensure is there to protect both client and stylist. 

The best part?

The average salary for a barber stylist in the United States is a whopping $42,470 per year!

With those kinds of numbers, why NOT spend about a year obtaining a barbering license? With a license, you can just hear the doors of opportunity opening. You now have a list of services your license gives you full liberty to perform. Think about what kind of a barber stylist you want to become and there is likely a licensing option available to you locally.

Tip: Do you want to be a hair braider only? Cut only? Check if a local school is offering a basic barbering license course. It likely won’t include chemical services such as hair coloring, however, most schools offer both options. Want to go past hair and learn makeup and nails, for example? Cosmetology license is what you want to look for.

Wrapping It Up

Do I NEED a license to style hair? No. But, do you want to make money styling hair? Do you want to feel confident offering a reliable service to your clients? Those are the questions. See how being an unlicensed barber can help you decide? 

Maybe you find cutting and styling to be a fulfilling hobby. For example, a mother can cut and style her whole family’s hair as her children grow up and save a ton of money by not sending them to the barber. She isn’t charging her children. She enjoys the time spent AND the results. 

One day this mother feels like starting a new job. What is she good at already, she thinks. 🙂 And now she has the opportunity to enroll in a school. A year later, she starts making a SUBSTANTIAL annual income and building a client base that gives her pride in her work.

This is just one of MANY scenarios where a person can start with a need and an interest, practice at home, and go on to have a successful career in a lucrative field. YOU decide where your passion lies and if you’re ready to take that confident jump to a licensed, professional barber stylist career!

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