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Though you can still find them in most any city or town, spotting the traditional red and white barber pole of years past is becoming an rarer occurrence. Trendy styling salons and cosmetology boutiques have often replaced the friendly old man with scissors, standing behind the chair and snipping away as he tells outrageous stories.
However, more than a few people still prefer to utilize the services of the traditional barber. Obtaining a barber license is a path available to any who wish to pursue the career. In fact, as trends shift, and what is old once again becomes new, the traditional barber may be experiencing a resurgence in popularity.
The first step in acquiring a barber license is to locate and enroll in an accredited barber college. This should not be confused with a college of hairstyling, or a cosmetology school. There are similarities in the teachings of these establishments, but they do have differences. A barber college is geared primarily toward cutting men's hair. It is involved primarily with study of different sorts or hair, and how it should be cut and fashioned.
Barber colleges can be found in most states, and the best ones are not inexpensive. Graduating from a barber college can cost $5,000 US Dollars (USD) or more, and sometimes requires as much as 1,500 hours of coursework and training. In addition to providing classes and hands-on learning, the better barber colleges also teach business management techniques.
The barber college is the first step in gaining a barber license, but it is not the only step. After you have successfully graduated, you will need to take an exam administered by the state in which you live. The various states have varying criteria, but as a rule, the state exams will not cover anything that was not taught in the barber college. The states are primarily interested in collecting a fee for a barber license, which will need to be periodically renewed with an additional fee. It should be noted that passing the state exam is mandatory, and that no refunds are offered should you fail the test or need to reschedule.
Assuming you pass the state exam, you should receive your barber license in the mail within a month. There are some age restrictions when it comes to getting a barber license, but they are quite lax. Again, depending upon the state in which you live, the minimum age will be either 18 or 21. If you are under 18, that restriction will often be waived if you have a signed form signifying parental consent.