Barbers focus on hair care and are responsible for improving a customer's appearance. In order to become a barber, individuals must complete a training program and obtain state licensure. State licensure requires barbers to pass a written examination and conduct a practical demonstration. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), barbers earned a median salary of $23,810 in 2010.
According to the BLS, barbers primarily work with male clients to cut, trim and style hair. Barbers must be able to style different types of hair and cut hair to certain specifications. In order to accommodate clients, barbers must be able to follow directions to ensure that clients receive the haircut they want. In some instances, barbers must shampoo hair and style hair with gel.
In addition to hair care, barbers are responsible for grooming men as well. Barbers are qualified and skilled to use a straight razor in order to provide clients with a cleaner shave. A straight razor has a blade that folds into a handle and takes considerable skill to use. Barbers not only perform complete shaves, but may also be responsible for shaping or contouring facial hair to create a well-maintained beard, mustache or goatee.
Many barbers operate their own business, so they must have strong business skills in order to operate their salon. In addition to cutting hair, barbers may choose to sell and market specific products. It's important that barbers have a strong business plan to obtain a loan from a bank, choose a location and purchase supplies and equipment.
It's important for barbers to have strong customer service skills in order to maintain a client base. While a client is receiving a haircut, barbers may engage in conversation and develop a relationship with them. Knowing a client's name, occupation and other relative information may make a client feel more comfortable and encourage repeat business.