Is A Barber License Required To Open A Barber Shop?

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on September 30th, 2023

Opening a barbershop is a substantial endeavor that involves careful consideration of various factors, from the financial aspects of running the facility to the potential for revenue generation. Among these considerations, one of the most critical questions that arise is whether you need a license to open and operate a barbershop.

A barbershop can be a lucrative business, especially in times when the demand for skilled barber services remains consistently high. Your reputation as a proficient barber can spread far and wide, bringing in a steady stream of customers. However, before embarking on this entrepreneurial journey, it’s crucial to understand the licensing requirements in your state and what they entail.

white, red, and blue barber spiraling bar

Understanding Barbering License

In most states, operating as a barber requires obtaining a barbering license. This license permits individuals to earn income by providing haircutting and related services to clients. To acquire this license, aspiring barbers typically need to complete a series of state-mandated courses and pass a licensing examination upon program completion. This license is a legal requirement for barbers to work in your salon.

Securing a Business License

Apart from the barbering license, you will also need to obtain a business license from your city or county’s business department. Fortunately, obtaining a business license is generally a straightforward process, often involving the completion of a one or two-page application. However, it’s essential to determine the type of business structure you’re establishing before applying for a business license. Consultation with an accountant can be valuable, especially if you plan to operate as a sole proprietorship or consider other structures like an LLC or corporation.

  • Sole Proprietor: This model suits individuals who intend to be the sole owner and operator of their barbershop, handling all tasks themselves.
  • LLC (Limited Liability Company): If you plan to be the sole owner but want to hire employees and seek some protection from legal matters, consider forming an LLC. This structure also applies if you aspire to start a franchise under corporate governance.
  • Corporation: If your vision involves expanding to multiple barbershop locations, hiring a substantial workforce, and attracting investors, a corporation may be the right choice.

Additional Licenses and Permits

While on the topic of licenses, it’s worth noting that beyond the barbering and business licenses, you may also need other permits and permissions, depending on your location and the services you intend to offer. Here are some additional licenses and permits you might require:

  • Licensing and Registration of Businesses: Registering your company with the state and potentially with your city or town is often mandatory. In some areas, you may also need to undergo a specific registration process with the board or agency responsible for licensing personal appearance professionals.
  • Employer Identification Number (EIN): If you plan to hire employees or have a partnership or corporation as your business structure, obtaining an EIN from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is essential.
  • Certificate of Resale: If you intend to purchase products like shampoo, conditioner, or styling goods for resale in your shop, acquiring a resale certificate can help you avoid paying sales tax on your inventory.
  • Tax Collection Accounts: If your goods and services are subject to taxation in your state or municipality, you’ll need to establish a tax collection account with the relevant revenue agencies.
  • Inspections: Depending on state and municipal laws, your business location may need to undergo inspections conducted by building and health officials.

Identifying all the necessary licenses and permits for starting a barbershop can be a complex task. Consulting a local attorney experienced in small business matters or reaching out to your region’s Small Business Association office can provide valuable guidance.

Barbering License Holder

Before commencing barbering operations in your shop, the proprietor must register with the state’s Board of Cosmetology. This registration ensures that your store adheres to state regulations. Typically, this registration process involves submitting an application, paying a fee, and undergoing a shop inspection conducted by a representative from the Board of Cosmetology. Once your shop passes inspection, you can receive your license.

In nearly all states, a barber license is a prerequisite for performing barber services, including hair cutting, styling, washing, and facial hair grooming, such as shaving or beard trimming. Requirements for obtaining a barber license can vary by state, but they often include:

  • High School Diploma or GED: Typically, a high school diploma or equivalent is required.
  • Age Requirement: Applicants must typically be at least 16 years old.
  • Barbering Education: Completion of a state-approved barber school or program is a common requirement. Some areas may also necessitate an apprenticeship with a licensed barber.
  • State Exams: Passing state exams, which often include both written and practical assessments, is a standard part of the licensing process.

Cosmetology License vs. Barber License

In addition to a barber license, there’s also the option of obtaining a cosmetology license, which allows individuals to provide a broader range of beauty and grooming services, including nails and skincare. Some states allow cosmetology graduates to take the barber licensure test without completing a separate barber program. However, the specific requirements can vary, and cosmetologists may need to complete additional courses to sit for the state barber test.

Setting Up Your Barber Shop

Before opening your doors to clients, you’ll need to ensure that your barbershop is adequately equipped and compliant with regulations. This includes having the necessary items such as sterilizing solutions for sanitizing equipment, trash containers, separate sanitary facilities, and more. Insurance, while not a license, is often considered a necessity to protect your business from unexpected events like fires or floods.

Patents and Trademarks

If you plan to sell trademarked items, filing for a patenting license may be necessary to protect your intellectual property and prevent others from replicating your products. However, it’s crucial to be aware that patents have expiration dates, allowing other companies to use identical items once the patent expires.

Compliance with State Board Requirements

Meeting the standards set by your state’s barbering or cosmetology board can be challenging, as each state has its own unique criteria. Collaboration between the board and the state’s Department of Public Health is common, and they often conduct inspections to ensure compliance with state regulations. Some of the most common requirements may include proof of business ownership, a business address, a local or county business license, and specific facility standards.

These standards may encompass aspects like running hot and cold water, public restrooms, adequate water consumption, a minimum square footage per barber chair, proper storage for barbering products and clean towels, and more. Depending on your state’s requirements and the condition of your leased space, meeting these criteria might involve renovations, inspections from various professionals, and associated costs.

In conclusion, while opening a barbershop can be a rewarding venture, it involves a series of legal requirements and considerations. Obtaining a barbering license is typically a key prerequisite, and you’ll also need to secure a business license. Additionally, be prepared to address other licenses, permits, and inspections as necessary, depending on your location and the services you plan to offer. Complying with state board requirements is vital, and it’s advisable to thoroughly research and plan for the specific needs of your barbershop. Alongside these considerations, factor in your ongoing monthly expenses and unforeseen fees to ensure the success of your barbershop business. Remember, a solid foundation of compliance and preparation is essential for a thriving barbershop operation.


Editorial Staff

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