Barber Responsibilities (With Skills and Work Environment)

Updated 30 March 2023

Clients visit barbershops for hair washes, cutting and styling. Barbers have knowledge of different hairstyles and use tools like razors and scissors to create desired looks for clients. Learning about barber responsibilities can help you understand the tasks that hair-cutting professionals perform during their workday. In this article, we explain what barber responsibilities are, offer a list of the primary responsibilities for barbers, share barber skills, describe the work environment and discuss becoming a barber.

What are barber responsibilities?

Barber responsibilities are the tasks that these hair care professionals perform during their typical workday. Barbers specialise in cutting hair, but they also perform a range of other duties. Barbers share information about hair products and styles with clients, offer recommendations and advice concerning hairstyles, wash hair and treat scalps for issues like dandruff. Many barbers help keep the shop clean by sweeping hair and sterilising tools. Some barbers might assist with the operation of the barbershop by scheduling client visits, assisting with marketing and processing payments.

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Primary responsibilities of barbers

Barbers take on multiple responsibilities as they assist with the operations of a barbershop. Here are some of the primary responsibilities of barbers:

Advising clients

Barbers greet clients, ask them about their desired hairstyles and offer input concerning current trends. They might share pictures of haircuts and allow clients to choose a style that suits them. Barbers might consider the age of the client, their face shape and their hair thickness and advise them on what style to choose. Barbers also share advice on hair treatment products such as shampoos and hair gels. Working as a barber involves communicating with clients, taking their input and offering advice when necessary.

Washing hair

Many barbers offer hair washing services for clients before a haircut. Barbers prepare clients by wrapping their necks in a towel, instructing them to lie down by a wash basin and spending time cleaning the client's hair. Barbers might apply specialised shampoo to treat health conditions such as dandruff. They can also offer services like scalp massage. Washing the client's hair prepares them for a haircut and can positively impact the appearance of the cut.

Cutting hair

Barbers use tools like razors and scissors to cut hair according to client specifications. They might use hair clips and combs to measure lengths and move parts of the hair out of the way as they cut. Barber methodically cut around the head to ensure a uniform appearance and takes care to avoid catching sharp scissors on the client's ears. Cutting hair might involve thinning thick hair or combing over thin hair. Barbers use a razor to shave the back of the neck and create specific styles.


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Styling hair

After a barber finishes cutting a client's hair, they use a razor and hair products to finish their work. Barbers might add hair gel and style the hair in a specific way while teaching the client how to achieve the same look on their own. They can use a razor to fix sideburns and complete the look. The client might offer feedback and request alterations before the barber finishes their work. Barbers use a mirror to give the client a clear view of the back of their hair and continue styling until the client expresses satisfaction.

Cleaning the workspace

Barbers often take responsibility for cleaning their own workplace and the barbershop. They might sterilise equipment like scissors and razors in between each client appointment to ensure cleanliness. Barbers regularly sweep their work area to keep it clean of hair and other debris. Some barbers collaborate with colleagues to clean the shop and ensure it has a welcoming appearance. Barbers work closely with clients and colleagues in a closed environment, so focusing on cleanliness helps create sanitary conditions and ensures client safety.

Performing administrative duties

Barbers perform a range of administrative duties depending on their role within a barbershop. Some barbers process payments from clients. Other barbers might assist with booking client appointments and scheduling cuts. Some barbers operate their own shop and might examine revenue figures for each month to assess profitability. Barbers might answer telephone enquiries and advise potential clients on shop hours, cut costs and services.

Marketing services

Many barbers market their services and attract new clients. Barbers might ask clients for permission to take photographs of haircuts and share them on social media as an example of their work. Some barbers rent their chairs in a barbershop, so they depend on a regular business to make their work profitable. Barbers that own their own shops might advertise through flyers or special deals to attract new customers.

Barber skills

Barbers use a range of skills to succeed in their work. Here are some skills that barbers use:

Communication skills

Barbers use communication skills to greet clients, discuss their desired haircut and share information about styles and new looks. Barbers strive to make clients feel welcome and comfortable in the shop so they become repeat customers. They discuss pricing options and share tips for hair care and styling. Active listening skills help barbers take input from clients and understand what kind of haircut they request. During the cut, barbers might discuss progress with the client and ask if they desire any alterations. Communication skills help barbers maintain positive relationships with clients and ensure customer satisfaction.

Related: Communication Skills: Definitions and Examples

Attention to detail

Attention to detail helps barbers craft haircuts according to customer requests. Barbers concentrate on their work and slowly work their way around a client's head, making small cuts with scissors or a razor. Barbers use attention to detail as they assess the client's hair type and consider how to create a certain look. They take care to remove hair slowly so they can correct mistakes as they work. Attention to detail helps barbers produce symmetrical haircuts and make small alterations to produce the desired effect.

Related: Attention to Detail: Definition and Examples

Physical fitness and dexterity

Barbers use physical fitness and dexterity to manipulate tools like scissors and razors and make precise cuts. They spend most of their workday on their feet, moving around clients and using both hands as they work, so physical fitness helps them stay focused and avoid errors. Dexterity helps barbers make precise cuts that match their vision for a particular hairstyle.

Creativity and artistic skills

Barbers use creativity and artistic skills to translate their vision for a hairstyle into reality. Barbers might experiment with new cuts and styles to help clients achieve a unique look. When clients request a particular cut, barbers consider the client's unique hair thickness and head shape and decide how to create that style. Creativity and artistic skills help barbers find ways to create unique cuts and ensure client satisfaction.

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Work environment for barbers

Barbers typically work in a shop along with several colleagues. Most barbershops have multiple workstations with rotating chairs and mirrors for each barber to use with their clients. Barbers might start at the front of the house greeting clients, move to a washing station and then bring a client to their workstation. After each cut, a barber might use a broom to sweep up hair and use disinfectant on their scissors and razors. Barbers often make small talk with clients and colleagues to create a welcoming and lively atmosphere.

Becoming a barber

Becoming a barber involves completing an apprenticeship, gaining experience and attracting clientele. A barbering apprenticeship takes three to four years to complete and includes study towards a formal qualification. Alternatively, you can study full-time for a Certificate III in barbering, which take around a year.

Once you complete an apprenticeship, you can decide to work as an employee at a barbershop, rent your own chair at a shop or start your own business. Working for an established shop can ensure you have steady work, but you might only gain a portion of the earnings from each cut. Establishing your own business means you take responsibility for attracting your own clients.


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