Barber School vs. Cosmetology School


Over two million high school graduates head to college after high school graduation. However, a traditional college isn’t for everyone, and some graduates are left wondering what career path to choose. 

Barbering is a great choice if you’re looking for a career in a short amount of time. Barber school and cosmetology school are related, but there are distinct differences. 

If you’re looking for a job in the beauty industry, here are some of the main differences between being a cosmetologist and a barber.

Barber School

One of the main differences for those who want to go to barber school is that barbers take men clients. This includes the washing, cutting, and styling of men’s hair. Barbers tend to use products like creams, gels, and oils, or tools like scissors, razors, and even nose trimmers!

Another skill you might learn in barber classes is how to shave. Shaving is a qualification using techniques learned in barber school. You’ll learn how to use shaving cream, different razors like a straight razor, methods, and trimming beards and mustaches. 

Some barbers may focus on color for hair, but others may prefer not to. Most of the time, the focus in barber school is cutting techniques for hair and face, transforming it from a skill to an art. 

Cosmetology School

While those in cosmetology school also work with hair, their education is a bit more intense and covers various fields. 

Cosmetologists work with male and female clients. They focus on the cutting, styling, and washing of hair but rarely focus on shaving the face like barbers. One of their areas of expertise is coloring and highlighting the hair or doing other services like hair extensions or updos for special occasions. 

They may also specialize in deep conditioning treatments, serum applications and use other tools like blowdryers, round brushes, flat irons, curling irons, and other hair tools to style the hair. Cosmetologists are not limited just to learning about the structure and styling of hair, but nails or skin, which means they can offer services like manicures and pedicures, waxing, or makeup application. 


The work, a barber and a cosmetologist do differ widely. However, there are some similarities in their job descriptions. 

Both barbers and cosmetologists need to be skilled at providing excellent customer service and listening skills. You’ll be working one-on-one with your client, and you want them to be a returning client. This means you’ll need to listen well, engage, and ask questions to ensure that you’re providing exactly what they’re asking for. 

Licensing to work in your state and at a salon is necessary upon graduation for both cosmetologists and barbers. Each state will have its own requirements for licensing, and you’ll be obligated to follow those requirements, but you can expect a written exam and test to show your skills. You’ll need proof of licensing when you get a job. 

Because most barbers and cosmetologists are self-employed, they’re taught basic salon management skills. These skills are important and cover the financial aspects of running your own business so you can be successful. They’re also foundational if you’re considering opening your own salon or barbershop in the future and renting out space. 

Another important aspect barbers and cosmetologists learn is sanitation. 

Length of Education

Both cosmetology school and barber school can be completed in a short amount of time compared to a traditional college. This is important for a couple of reasons. 

From a financial viewpoint, you’re spending less money on a career that will give you skills you can use for a lifetime. Collectively, college graduates today are over their heads in debt. When you’re spending less money on school, you don’t have a heaping amount of debt. 

Another reason a shorter education is important is that you can find a job fairly quickly. Once you graduate, you’ve had skill and practice, and you’re ready to enter the workforce. Unfortunately, not everyone who graduates from a traditional college has experience or skill, meaning it’s more challenging to find a job. 

Generally speaking, cosmetology school takes about 24 months to complete, depending on the program and the skills you learn. 

Barber school, however, takes less time, around 6-9 months. This means you can enter the workforce quickly and confidently, with everything you need to make a flourishing career for yourself. However, if you’re ready to start your skills right away and want a more practical route, the 6-month program at Miami Barber Institute may be what you’re looking for. 

Requirements for Barber vs Cosmetologist

If you’re thinking about applying to barber school, there are a few requirements necessary for admission. It will depend on the type of school you attend, but you will need a high school diploma.

You’ll also have to complete a specific number of hours for hands-on training to be eligible for graduation. 

Once you graduate, you’ll need to pass an exam to be qualified to work in the state. You’ll need to have met all financial obligations as well. 

Barber School vs. Cosmetology School

Both barber school and cosmetology school offer skills you can use to craft a rewarding career. Barber school does take less time. If you’re considering applying to barber school, Miami Barber Institute is the place you need to be to gain barbering skills for the modern client. 

Want to learn more about Miami Barber Institute? Contact us today to get all your questions answered and be on your way to a career you love.