A barber


Barbers cut, trim, taper and style men’s hair. They also remove facial hair by shaving the specific area. Barbers use tools such as scissors, clippers, razors and combs. They may offer additional services like shampooing, styling, coloring and performing scalp massages.

The duties of a barber include, but are not limited to:

  • Cutting hair, trimming beards, and giving shaves according to customers’ requests and preferences
  • Cleaning work stations, instruments, and equipment after each use
  • Cleaning up around the salon as needed, including sweeping and mopping floors, dusting shelves, and cleaning mirrors
  • Creating new haircuts, hairstyles, and facial hair styles based on customers’ requests
  • Performing basic shampooing and conditioning services, such as shampooing clients’ hair and scalp treatments
  • Providing other personal care services, such as shaving beards and mustaches, performing manicures and pedicures, and giving facials
  • Educating customers on proper hair care maintenance techniques, including shampooing instructions, hair care tips, and styling suggestions
  • Providing advice on product selection and using tools such as clippers and razors to cut hair

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to barber:


Working conditions

Barbers work in a variety of settings, including barber shops, salons, spas, and even in some retail stores. They typically work a full-time schedule, although some may work part-time. Many barbers also work evenings and weekends to accommodate their customers’ schedules. The work can be physically demanding, as barbers are on their feet for long periods of time and must be able to maneuver around their customers. The work environment is usually noisy and busy, and barbers must be able to handle customer requests and complaints in a professional manner.

Minimum qualifications

Barbers usually must complete a barber or cosmetology training program. Admission to these programs varies by state, with some requiring a high school diploma or equivalent. Programs typically involve a mix of classroom studies and hands-on training and lead to a certificate or other postsecondary nondegree award. Some states require health and safety training as part of these programs.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Barber is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Barber career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to barber.

hairdresser assistant
hair removal technician
shoe repairer

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of barber. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of barber with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

life coach
body artist
wedding planner
massage therapist
beauty salon manager

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of barber.

  • Barbering techniques: The various techniques used for cutting and grooming male hairstyles and beards, such as shaping, graduating, and blending.
  • Hair: Human hair, its composition and interaction with various chemicals, environment factors and health issues.
  • Hair products: The qualities and applications of various styling products used on different types of hair, such as curling creams, hairspray, shampoos, and conditioners.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of barber.

  • Style hair: Style a person’s hair using the appropriate techniques and products.
  • Work ergonomically: Apply ergonomy principles in the organisation of the workplace while manually handling equipment and materials.
  • Maintain equipment: Regularly inspect and perform all required activities to maintain the equipment in functional order prior or after its use.
  • Advise on hair style: Make recommendations to customers about suitable hair styles, based on their preferences and your own professional judgment.
  • Use equipment for hair care: Use tools to cut, trim or shave hair, such as scissors, clippers, razors and combs.
  • Maintain customer service: Keep the highest possible customer service and make sure that the customer service is at all times performed in a professional way. Help customers or participants feel at ease and support special requirements.
  • Work safely with chemicals: Take the necessary precautions for storing, using and disposing chemical products.
  • Promote yourself: Market one’s own strengths in terms of skills and knowledge.
  • Listen actively: Give attention to what other people say, patiently understand points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times; able to listen carefully the needs of customers, clients, passengers, service users or others, and provide solutions accordingly.
  • Show social competences: Ability to interact effectively with other people.
  • Process payments: Accept payments such as cash, credit cards and debit cards. Handle reimbursement in case of returns or administer vouchers and marketing instruments such as bonus cards or membership cards. Pay attention to safety and the protection of personal data.
  • Treat facial hair: Shape, trim or shave beards and moustaches, using scissors and razors.
  • Stay up-to-date with fashion trends in hair style: Keep abreast of current and future fashion trends, especially in hair styles.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of barber. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Manage schedule of tasks: Maintain an overview of all the incoming tasks in order to prioritise the tasks, plan their execution, and integrate new tasks as they present themselves.
  • Sell hair products: Sell various styling products used on different types of hair, such as curling creams, hairspray, shampoos and conditioners.
  • Order supplies: Command products from relevant suppliers to get convenient and profitable products to purchase.
  • Give massages: Provide clients with head, hand, neck, facial or full body massages.
  • Manage a small-to-medium business: Manage the organisational, financial and day-to-day operation of a small-to-medium enterprise.
  • Maintain relationship with suppliers: Build a lasting and meaningful relationship with suppliers and service providers in order to establish a positive, profitable and enduring collaboration, co-operation and contract negotiation.
  • Maintain work area cleanliness: Keep the working area and equipment clean and orderly.
  • Wash hair: Use shampoo to clean clients’ hair and scalp, use hair conditioners to create volume or make hair more smooth and shiny and afterwards dry the hair with a blow dryer or a towel.
  • Maintain professional administration: File and organise professional administration documents comprehensively, keep customer records, fill in forms or log books and prepare documents about company-related matter.
  • Administer appointments: Accept, schedule and cancel appointments.
  • Supervise staff: Oversee the selection, training, performance and motivation of staff.
  • Apply hair cutting techniques: Apply various techniques that can be used in the process of cutting a person’s hair, such as layering, slicing and face framing. Give artists haircuts and shaves for stage performances.
  • Recommend cosmetics to customers: Recommend and provide advice on cosmetic products based on the customer’s personal preferences and needs and on the different product types and brands available.
  • Help customers with hair problems: Offer solutions for or ways to deal with hair problems, such as gray hair, hair loss, hair damage or greasy hair, or scalp problems such as dandruff or psoriasis.
  • Dye hair: Dye hair using a special solution to change its colour.
  • Issue sales invoices: Prepare the invoice of goods sold or services provided, containing individual prices, the total charge, and the terms. Complete order processing for orders received via telephone, fax and internet and calculate the customer’s final bill.
  • Train employees: Lead and guide employees through a process in which they are taught the necessary skills for the perspective job. Organise activities aimed at introducing the work and systems or improving the performance of individuals and groups in organisational settings.
  • Keep stock records: Keep written records of the amount of stock in storage, incoming and outgoing products required for the proper operation of services, repairs and maintenance tasks.

ISCO group and title

5141 – Hairdressers

  1. Barber – ESCO
  2. Barbers, Hair Stylists, and Cosmetologists : Occupational Outlook Handbook – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  3. Barber Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More – Climb the Ladder
  4. Featured image: Photo by Antonio Reynoso on Unsplash
Last updated on November 12, 2022

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