How to Choose a Barber School
Finding a barber school in your area that will train and prepare you for licensing can be a confusing process. It is extremely important that you ask the right questions before making your final selection. Your first question may be what should you look for when evaluating barber schools?. Next, cost is always one of the major considerations, but it should not be the only one when making your decision. Many potential students also tend to look at only the closest schools to their homes when researching options. However, selecting the cheapest and the closest school is not necessarily the best choice for your education and future career goals. After all, you want to become a licensed and highly skilled barber, not just a graduate of any school. So let’s review some of the additional questions that you should be asking before enrolling in a barber college. But first, just what is a barber?
What is a Barber?
A barber (from the Latin barba, "beard") is a person whose occupation is mainly to cut, dress, groom, style and shave men’s and boys' hair. A barber's place of work is known as a "barber shop" or a "barber's". Barber shops are also places of social interaction and public discourse. In some instances, barbershops are also public forums. They are the locations of open debates, voicing public concerns, and engaging citizens in discussions about contemporary issues. They were also influential in helping shape male identity.
In previous times, barbers (known as barber surgeons) also performed surgery and dentistry. With the development of safety razors and the decreasing prevalence of beards, in English-speaking cultures, most barbers now specialize in cutting men's scalp hair as opposed to facial hair.
In modern times, the term "barber" is used both as a professional title and to refer to hairdressers who specialize in men's hair. Historically, all hairdressers were considered barbers. In the 20th century, the profession of cosmetology branched off from barbering, and today hairdressers may be licensed as either barbers or cosmetologists. Barbers differ with respect to where they work, which services they are licensed to provide, and what name they use to refer to themselves. Part of this terminology difference depends on the regulations in a given location.
Different states in the US vary on their labor and licensing laws. For example, in Maryland, a cosmetologist cannot use a straight razor, strictly reserved for barbers. In contrast, in New Jersey both are regulated by the State Board of Cosmetology and there is no longer a legal difference in barbers and cosmetologists, as they are issued the same license and can practice both the art of straight razor shaving, coloring, other chemical work and haircutting if they choose.
Questions to Ask Barber Schools
Below is a checklist of questions that you should ask before deciding on a barber trade school. As we have already discussed, the cost and location of the schools may be your first considerations. Locating schools that specialize in barbering will also dictate which ones are possible choices. But once you have narrowed down your options based on those factors, there are additional qualifiers that you need to investigate before making your final choice. So let’s review them now so that you can compare schools and make a final selection before making your tuition payment.
Is the Barber School Accredited? Accreditation is important to ensure that the barber college you enroll in has met the high standards as set forth by the accrediting agency. Make sure that the accreditation is by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences (NACCAS). It is not only important so that you receive the highest level of education and training, but is also necessary to qualify for most student loans or financial aid. Some states require that you attend an accredited school in order to qualify for licensing. Finally, attending an accredited tech school will be more attractive to potential employers that may not be inclined to hire graduates of a non-accredited school.
What is the School’s Reputation? The barber school that you select should have an excellent reputation within the industry. Ask the schools that you are considering to provide references from employers that they have referred their students to for job placement. Also, find out what percentage of their students have been placed in jobs upon graduation (job placement rate). Check online rating services as well as with their accrediting agencies to find out what the reviews are for each school. You can also check with the State school licensing authority to find out if the schools are in full compliance or if there have been any complaints. Finally, contacting some local barber shops and asking if management is familiar with the schools you are considering may give you some good feedback as well.
What Programs are Offered? Schools that offer a full cosmetology program generally have training in hair styling, nail and skin care, the application of makeup, as well as barbering. However, some beauty schools have a particular focus, such as on electrolysis or esthetics. It is important that you choose a school that offers comprehensive training in barbering. So if your goal is to become a barber, make sure the program as well as the school are accredited and well regarded. Choosing a top rated school that has a weak barbering program obviously will not provide the training you are seeking.
How much Hands-on Practice will You Get? The best way to learn is not by applying your techniques to dolls or mannequins, but rather to practice on another person. Find out if your barber classes provide real experience by teaching you to apply your barbering skills on people. Many schools have in-house salons that provide volunteers for students to practice on. To learn and master your new profession, it is important to receive as much hands-on practice as possible. So look for barber schools that provide this kind of training.
Is the Curriculum and Schedule Flexible? Find out if the barber schools that you are considering offer flexibility within their programs. Students should be able to advance at their own pace and focus on their preferred specialty once the core classes have been completed. Also, make sure that the class schedules are accommodating to your needs. If you can only attend barber classes at night or on weekends due to your job or other obligations, make sure that classes are offered during those days and times. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you choose can accommodate that also. And finally, find out what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Does the School offer Job Placement Assistance? Many barber schools assist their students with job placement in shops after graduation and licensing. These schools maintain close relationships with employers in the area that benefit by having trained professionals available for hiring. Ask prospective schools for a list of shops and other businesses that they have relationships with for placing students. Find out what their job placement rate is as well. A high placement rate will be a good indication that their school and program is held in high esteem by industry employers.
Does the School Offer Financial Aid? Many barber collegess offer financial aid options to their students. Be sure to contact the financial aid department of the schools you are considering to find out what is available. Some schools will also assist with obtaining student loans or grants. Others that are members of the American Association of Cosmetology Schools (AACS) have scholarship programs available to students as well. So do not eliminate a school due to cost that meets your other requirements without first finding out what financial help may be available.
How Large are the Classes? It’s important that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible which can be difficult in larger classes. Find out from the schools what their teacher to student ratio is. Ask if you can sit in on some of the training so that you can see how large the classes are. Speak with some of the students and get their feedback regarding personalized instruction. Finally, speak with some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Enroll in the Right Barber School
Choosing the right barber training program is an important first step toward a rewarding career in the beauty industry. As we have discussed in this article, you should select a school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the barbering community. And if you follow the above checklist for evaluating schools, you will be able to narrow down your options so that you can make the right choice. With the proper training and experience, as well as hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed practicing barber.