A typical barber shop has a masculine feel and a mostly male clientele, even though barbers and cosmetologists have similar training and licensing requirements. In addition to giving haircuts, barbers provide other grooming services, such as shaves and beard trims. Where law permits, they also apply hair color and give permanent waves, similar to hairdressers. In fact, a barber's average annual pay is comparable to that of a cosmetologist.
National Average Pay
Some barbers work long hours, including weekends and evenings -- when clients are available -- but many work part-time. Based on a 40-hour week, the average yearly income of full-time barbers was $27,710 in 2013, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is equivalent to an hourly wage of $13.32. By way of comparison, the average 2013 income for hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists was $27,530 per year, the equivalent of $13.24 hourly.
The lowest-paid 10 percent of barbers received $17,370 annually or less in 2013, according to the BLS, while the top-paid 10 percent earned $44,190 per year or more. Their median pay was $25,010 a year, which means that half the barbers earned more and half earned less than this amount.
A Focus on Personal Care
Barbers work almost exclusively in the personal care industry -- typically in barber shops, hotels or resorts. Of 15,100 barbers nationwide in 2013, 14,330 worked in personal care services, where they received average annual wages of $27,500, according to the BLS. An additional 120 barbers worked for employment services, where they received an average of $25,030 annually in 2013. This industry includes job placement and executive search services, and professional employer organizations. The only other industry listed in the government survey was psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals, which employed 30 barbers earning average yearly wages of $36,690.
Pay by Location
As of 2013, three populous states reported more than 1,000 barbering jobs each, according to the statistics bureau. Texas led with 2,140 jobs and average pay of $29,580 per year. New York had 1,720 jobs, at average pay of $22,270 annually, and California had 1,280 barbers earning an average of $25,210 per year. The top-paying state in 2013 was Illinois, where barbers earned an average of $44,480 per year. Other high-paying states included Minnesota, which reported pay averaging $41,050 per year, and Colorado, where annual wages averaged $40,730. The top-paying metro region was the greater Minneapolis-St. Paul area, where barbers averaged $41,460 per year.
Job Growth and Outlook
The BLS predicts an 11 percent increase in jobs for barbers between 2012 and 2022, the same as for all occupations combined. New barbers will be necessary to replace many older ones who retire or change careers, so opportunities for newly licensed barbers are expected to be favorable.