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Barber License vs. Cosmetology License: Which to Choose?

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Barbers and cosmetologists wash, cut, and style hair. However, cosmetologists also provide many other services. Since cosmetologists offer more services than barbers do, cosmetology students must fulfill more requirements for licensing. We’ll take a closer look at barber vs. cosmetologist services, as well as what it takes to become a barber or cosmetologist.

Tailored Services – A Short Summary of Barber vs. Cosmetologist Services

No matter how bad the economy gets, barbers and cosmetology professionals are always in demand. Even during the Great Depression, people made their appearance a priority. If you plan to become a barber or a cosmetologist, you should know the difference between the two services before you devote time and money for training and licensing.

Barbers offer the following services to their customers:

  • Wash hair
  • Cut hair
  • Shape hair
  • Razor shave
  • Beard trim

Cosmetologists are widely known to beautify the hair and nails of their customers, but what is cosmetology, exactly? Cosmetology actually involves several beautifying treatments. These treatments include the following:

  • Wash hair
  • Cut hair
  • Style hair
  • Scalp treatments
  • Facials
  • Make-up application
  • Body waxing
  • Manicures
  • Pedicures

It takes a lot of training for an aspiring cosmetologist to acquire the skills to perform all of these treatments. Therefore, cosmetologists generally require more training than barbers.

License Demands for Cosmetologists and Barbers

It’s perfectly legal to cut hair for no pay. Mothers through the centuries have cut their children’s hair. However, it is illegal to accept money in exchange for hairstyling services without a barbering license or other hair cutting license.

To earn your professional license, you’ll need to fulfill the educational requirements required by the state board of barbering and cosmetology in your specific state. To become a barber, your state’s cosmetology and barbering board may require you to learn the local laws and regulations, esthetics, anatomy, and sanitation in addition to hair washing and styling.

An aspiring cosmetologist may have to learn about those same things plus how to do various beautifying treatments. Because cosmetologists offer more services, an apprenticeship would also likely be required.

Other Demands and Professional Considerations

As a barber or cosmetologist, you are responsible for your customer's wellbeing while in your place of business. This means that there are a few things to take into consideration, including:

  • Registration: Once you’ve earned your professional license and you’re ready to get to work, you’ll need to register your business with your state. Each state has its own requirements for registering businesses. Be sure you fully research what you need to do. After you register your business, you’ll have to wait to receive your barber or cosmetology business license in the mail.

  • Displaying of license: Once you receive your professional license, you’ll need to display it wherever and whenever you work for pay as a barber or cosmetologist. This is a legal requirement.

  • Business insurance: When physically dealing with clients, things can go wrong. They could claim that their slip-and-fall incident was your fault and try to sue you. They could claim that the perm you gave them fried their hair so badly that it negatively affected their modeling career. Over time, expect the public to make all sorts of claims against you, trying to make a buck. Insurance for cosmetologists can help pay any legitimate claims for you.

If you primarily work as a hairstylist and rent a space, you will only need professional liability insurance for hairstylists. If you own the salon, you’ll want to get either salon insurance or insurance for beauty salons. If you own a barber shop, you’ll want to get insurance for barber shops.

Barbers and Cosmetologists Working Together

Can a cosmetologist work in a barber shop? Can a cosmetologist be a barber? Is there such a thing as a cosmetology barber? These are logical questions you may be asking yourself by now. The answer to the first question is that a cosmetologist can work in a barber’s shop, doing what they've been trained to do if a licensed barber is there. A barber can perform their job in a cosmetology salon when a licensed cosmetologist is there.

A cosmetologist and a barber working in the same building can enjoy great business advantages. First of all, they would share many expenses. Secondly, each person could complement the other person’s offerings and earn extra money. For instance, a cosmetologist could groom the barber’s customer’s eyebrows while the customer waits for their hair dye to sink in.

Likewise, a barber could trim the cosmetologist’s customer’s beard while they wait for their hair frosting to take. If you're set on getting your barber's license, it may be a good idea to work with a cosmetologist to operate a joint salon/barber shop.

Bottom Line on Barber License vs. Cosmetology License

Compared to the training required of an aspiring cosmetologist, you won’t have to go through much training as a barber. You will mainly be responsible for giving haircuts and beard cuts/trims.

Cosmetology training requires much more training. That’s because there are many types of beautifying treatments offered at cosmetology salons. Customers may want their eyebrows done in addition to getting their hair cut and colored. While additional training is necessary, you'll be able to offer clients a lot more services, which is great for business.

Your state’s board of barbering and cosmetology dictates exactly what the curriculum at your school will be. You must pass all of these classes and possibly spend a certain number of hours as an apprentice to get your professional license. After you finish school and/or your apprenticeship, register your business, wait for your business license, and then display it.

If you're starting a salon or barber shop, get all of your insurance needs taken care of before you serve your first customer. Contact us at CoverWallet at (646) 844-9933, and we can walk you through all of your options!