I earned my Master Barbers License in 2001 through an apprenticeship program. I do not in any way want to discredit any institutions in the Barber and Cosmetology Industry. What I am going to be talking about is Apprenticeship versus attending a barber college.

In school you will definitely get the formal and professional approach to the hair care industry. There will be an instructor who is getting paid a salary to teach you theory in a classroom environment. Courses can take anywhere from 9 months(full time) to 4 years (part time). School environments are great. They are very organized and can be exciting at times.

The question is “WHY” do you go to school?

You go to school to become a licensed professional in the hair care industry. If you attend class consistently, study and pass the tests, you WILL earn a license. Does earning the license make you capable of cutting hair at an “expert” level? Not at all.

I have worked with people who have licenses for cosmetology and barbering and they were not talented at all. I have cut hair with barbers who did not have licenses and they were the best that I have ever seen! Fortunately for me, the Master Barber that mentored me as an apprentice, was one of the best barbers I have ever seen. “D-NICE”

Let’s face it. Talent is talent. Sometimes the most talented barbers and cosmetologists don’t have time to go to school because their clientele keeps them sooooooo busy! NO, i’m not saying that if you are not a good barber that you have more time to attend college. I am saying that barbers cut hair to earn money. If you are making the money, then some barbers feel like “why go to school”?


If you go to school, you have to be disciplined and still hold down a job to make ends meet. Most people don’t finish school because they have other responsibilities like family or other priorities. School in itself is a job.

When times get hard and you need to make money and you have to choose between school and a job, then it is a no brainer. If you need income, you WILL leave school and possibly never go back. Then you will start to miss barbering and talk about when you USED to go to school and never finished.

Then you will eventually try to work in a barber shop and give the owner the story about how you have some hours and you will finish school if he gives you a chance to work in his shop. Once you start working in the shop and start making good money, you forget about school until the STATE BOARD hits you with a hefty $500 fine!

Then you get nervous and either quit cutting, relocate or pay the fine. This routine is how barbers never get in the position to get a license from an institution.

First you have to find a shop that does not have an existing apprentice. This is because barbershops are only allowed one apprentice per barbershop in the state of Georgia. If you can get hired as an apprentice, in my opinion this is the best route to earning your license.

You can be an apprentice and earn a full time income at the same time. You will learn the business from a real world perspective as far as customers, co-workers, income, professionalism and many other real life situations.

The time will pass by so fast and before you know it, you are ready to take your test. The down side to being an apprentice is that no one is literally going to instruct you with the discipline of an instructor in a barber college. You more than likely will have to study on your own and ask questions if you need to know something and that is about it.

The advantages of being an apprentice are that you will learn to cut hair in an environment that will make you or break you. It will be a very competitive environment. You will see barbers who cut like pros! It can be discouraging if you are not mentally tough.

You start to feel like you are not going to make any money. But if you ask questions and take mental notes, you can apply what you see other barbers do to their customers and translate that to your customers haircut.

A lot of times in a school, you will not see a level of talent that you desire to learn from. I have owned two salons and have always taught barbers things that instructors couldn’t teach them. This is because either the instructors don’t care or the instructor can’t cut hair that great.

The fact is that in the real world, customers want the best haircuts possible. If you give them the best haircut, then they don’t care if you have a license or not. If you can’t cut, then the questions start to come at you about your license.

If you want to learn how to cut like a pro, then you have to find a pro barber. If you see a barber who can cut a perfect fade and he can give a tight razor line, then you need to learn from that barber by any means necessary. If your instructor in your barber college is not giving you what you need as far as ” real street skills”, then you need to find a mentor that will show you the real street skills.

The best barbers I have ever seen earned licenses in school, apprenticeships, and some don’t have licenses. What I am saying is that “talent is talent”. It is totally up to you as to how you obtain your license. No matter how you get it, just try to get it. The barber industry is recession proof and has an unlimited income potential.

I will have more on this subject in the near future. Thanks for taking the time to read this article.

Alex Campbell

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