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Can a Felon Become a Barber?

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When it comes to getting a job after their release from prison, felons find it challenging.  Jobs they once had are lost and careers may be gone.

They will have to be open and willing to learn a new trade or start a different career.

This is the opportunity for felons to begin a new profession.

This blog post will address the issue of whether a felon can get a barber license.

  • What is a Barber?
  • What Training Does a Barber Need?
  • How Much Does a Barber Earn?
  • An Opportunity for Felons?
  • Supporting a Felon in Getting a Barber License


What is a Barber?

A barber is a person who cuts, trims and styles men’s hair.  A barber may also shave men’s facial hair and may offer advice on how to maintain healthy hair.

A barber works in a neighborhood barbershop or an establishment that hires a licensed barber.

Among the services a licensed barber typically performs are:

  • Cutting/trimming hair
  • Shaving/trimming mustache or beard
  • Giving facial and scalp massages
  • Applying hair tonics and cosmetic products to the face, scalp, and neck
  • Chemically straightening or waving hair

Certain skills are needed to be successful as a barber, including:

  • Interest in assisting people feel good about their appearance
  • Good people skills
  • Communications to interact with customers during services
  • Insight into hairstyling methods
  • Creativity for hair styles
  • Good fine motor skills to manipulate instruments
  • Stamina to stand for long time periods
  • Motivation for good customer service

What Training Does a Barber Need?

In order to get a barber’s license, an individual must be at least 16 years old and graduate from high school or obtain a GED.

A person must attend and graduate from an accredited barber education program.

Most barber programs take from nine months to two years to complete.

In New Hampshire, an apprenticeship is also required.  In New York, a two-year apprenticeship under a licensed barber can take the place of a barber program.

The number of hours in a barber program varies from state to state and can run from 1500-1800 hours.

Classroom work involves:

  • Bacteriology
  • Hygiene
  • Sanitation and sterilization
  • Honing and stropping
  • Shampoo and scalp massage
  • Straight razors
  • Scalp and skin diseases
  • Physiology
  • State barber laws, rules, and regulations

All states require an applicant to take and pass a state barber exam and/or an exam administered by the National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology (NIC).  These exams usually combine a written theory section and a practical hands-on section.

A license is required to become a barber because their duties relate directly to public health.

A barber is required to maintain and renew their license annually or biannually.  Some states require completion of 10-15 hours of continuing education for every renewal period.

Continuing education may be in safety and sanitation or professional and business practices.

A master barber is recognized in some states by a barber who has practiced for 10-20 years or has passed a master barber exam.

How Much Does a Barber Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that there are approximately 829,000 licensed barbers.  This occupation is expected to show a 4% growth by 2020.

The average salary for a barber in 2015 was $13.32 per hour or $27,000 annually.  Top-notch, experienced barbers can earn much more, as high as $50,000 or more.

Experience and skill level could have a significant impact on these earnings.

It does not depend on the area of the country where a barber lives.  Barber salaries are consistent across the U.S.

An Opportunity for Felons?

Getting a barber license is appealing to many felons because they might have learned and practiced barber skills while incarcerated.

While the exact requirements for felons to become a barber differ somewhat depending on the state, typically, the regulations indicate certain factors.

Felons with certain convictions are generally not eligible to work as a barber.

These include those with an offense:

  • Involving prohibited sexual conduct or involving children as victims because of having access with the public in places with no one else present
  • Involving murder, kidnapping, and assault because they could endanger persons with violent tendencies
  • Illegal manufacture or distribution of controlled substances because they would work in an environment where they could tempt others to engage in drugs

The question of admission to a barber education program depends on the school involved.  Some programs will consider a felon with high potential in spite of a felony conviction.

In the majority of states, a felon can obtain a barber license.  The application for a license will request a list of criminal charges they have faced.

Individual decisions will rest on a case-by-case basis through review of the application or an interview with a board of committee members.

In order to be successful in their pursuit of being a barber, it is essential for felons to be honest about their background.  Lying about their conviction will prevent them from becoming a barber.

It is important to be honest in filling out an application for licensing.  If a felony isn’t disclosed but found on doing a background check, this constitutes fraud and is a punishable crime.

For anyone considering not being honest about their felony, it is a crime to falsify an application, which could result in being sent back to prison.

In order to be successful in this pursuit, it is essential for felons to be honest about their background. Lying about their conviction will prevent them from becoming a barber.

They are already working with the often negative perceptions of being dishonest, untrustworthy, and unwilling or unable to follow directions from authority figures.

There are many success stories, as the Guide to Being Employed, reveals, showing how having a goal, commitment, dedication, and perseverance can assist felons in achieving their dream.

There are re-entry programs, such as drug treatment, and educational opportunities.

Having their felony expunged can give them the chance they need to begin with a clean record and succeed in becoming a barber.

Expunging a criminal record allows anyone to honestly state on an application that they have not been convicted of a crime.

For employers, there is a Work Opportunity Tax Credit for hiring a felon.

Supporting a Felon in Getting a Barber License

For families of felons wanting to pursue a dream of get a barber license, encourage your loved one and support their efforts to live an honest life, change their lifestyle, and keep their dreams alive.

They have made mistakes and been incarcerated, but they have paid the consequences for their past actions.  They are not defined by their crime.

It is time for them to move forward and live an honest life.

Your family member is worth making the effort for, if they are sincere in their desire to become an electrician.

Help them realize their ambition no matter how difficult the road might be.

What do you think about this blog post?  Are you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to get a barber license with a felony?  What was that like for them, and how did they achieve success?  Please tell us in the comments below.

2 thoughts on “Can a Felon Become a Barber?”

  1. My friend cut hair in prison for over 20 years. When he got out he enrolled in the barber course, completed the course and then was told he could not take the final exam to get his license. Why wasn’t he told this before they took his money. What if anything could he do to get his license?

  2. I’m so happy to hear that a person whos been in jail can still become a barber. My brother was recently incarcerated for a misdemeanor and he’s thinking about changing his life and enrolling in barber school. He was worried that because of his criminal record he wasn’t going to be able to enroll, so I’ll make sure to share this article with him so he can apply for barber school as soon as possible.


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