Do you want to start a barbershop business and need a license? If YES, here are state requirements to get a barber’s license in the USA without going to school. In the United States of America, the labor law and licensing requirements as it concerns barbers differ for each state. For instance, a cosmetologist who operates in the state of Maryland cannot make use of a straight razor, it is reserved for only barbers.

While in the state of New Jersey both barbers and cosmetologists are regulated by the State Board of Cosmetology and there is no legal difference between barbers and cosmetologists, as they are issued the same license and can practice both the art of straight razor shaving, coloring, other chemical work, and haircutting if they choose.

Is It Possible to Secure a Barber’s License Without a College Degree

Although you don’t need a college degree to be able to secure a barber license in most states in the US, you need to have basic education or a high school diploma or GED and have reached a certain age to be eligible to become a barber. The minimum age ranges from 16 to 21, depending on the state.

Please note that even though you don’t need a high school diploma to become a licensed barber in the US, it is expected that you are physically fit for the job and you should have good hand-eye coordination, a lot of focus, and the ability to work on your feet most of the day.

Some states use a standardized national exam created by the National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology (NIC), while others add their own portion to it, or create their own exam altogether. That’s because some states have a single license to become a barber or a cosmetologist, while others have kept them separate. You will also be expected to pay a licensing and testing fee.

Please note that there are different types of licenses you can apply for and get as a barber in the United States of America and we will look at them one after the other.

Basic Requirements to Apply for a Barbers’ License

In order to become a professional licensed barber without education in the United States, one of the routes you should take is to start as an apprentice barber. If you choose to apply for an Apprentice Barber license, please note that the application process is managed by the Board of Registration of Cosmetology and Barbering’s vendor, Pearson VUE.

You are expected to contact Pearson VUE at (800) 274-2022 or visit their website to apply for a license. The requirements for applying for and securing a barber’s license in the US are almost the same in all states so we will look at what is obtainable in some states with slightly different requirements and application procedures.

How to Get a Barber’s License Without Going to School in Each State of the USA

1. Alabama

Before 2013, Alabama barbers were not required to obtain a state license. The industry was mostly unregulated, except in five of the state’s 67 counties (Baldwin, Jefferson, Lauderdale, Madison, and Mobile), which implemented their own barber licensing systems.

2013 legislation renamed the Alabama Board of Cosmetology the Alabama Board of Cosmetology and Barbering. The law requires barbers to obtain a biennial license from the board, with exemptions for certain barbers already practicing when the law took effect (Code of Alabama §§ 34-7B-1 et seq.).

If you want to apply and get a barbers’ license in Alabama, you must:

  • Be at least age 16;
  • Successfully complete the 10th grade or its equivalent;
  • Submit to the board a completed application and a $40 application fee;
  • Successfully complete (a) 1,000 hours of study at a board-approved barber school or (b) 2,000 hours of direct supervision under a licensed barber (i.e., apprenticeship); and
  • Pass written and practical examinations and pay a $195 examination fee.
  • Licenses must be renewed every two years for an $80 fee.

If you want to apply and secure a Barber Apprenticeship License, you are expected to;

  • Be at least age 16
  • Successfully completed the 10th grade or its equivalent,
  • Pays a $75 apprenticeship fee
  • Registers with the board as an apprentice.

An apprentice may only work under the direct supervision of a barber who has been licensed for at least five years and working in a licensed barbershop for at least two years. (The five-year licensure requirement does not apply to barbers practicing on August 1, 2013.)

In addition, the sponsor (i.e., the person supervising the apprentice) must (1) obtain an apprenticeship work permit from the board and (2) certify when the apprentice completes the required 2,000 hours of direct supervision.

Please note that the sponsor must submit the certification to the board within 120 days after the apprenticeship ends. If the apprentice does not obtain his or her license within two years after this certification, the board may require the apprentice to complete additional training hours.

  • Exemptions

A barber is exempt from state licensure if he or she (1) practiced barbering for at least 10 years on or before August 1, 2013, or (2) has a barber license from any county barber board in existence on that date. A barber with a county barber license may choose to also obtain a state license but must continue to comply with county rules and regulations.

In addition, a person working as a barber on August 1, 2013, for less than ten years is exempt from the state’s education and exam requirement but must pay the $40 license fee.

  • Reciprocity

A person licensed as a barber in another state or jurisdiction may apply to the board to obtain an Alabama license without examination. The other jurisdiction must certify to the board that the applicant holds a current barber license in good standing.

Applicants must pay a $100 fee and submit additional documentation at the board’s request. Depending on the applicant’s education and experience, the board may require that he or she pass a board-prescribed examination.

2. Texas

Just like most states in the United States of America, you would need a license to practice in Texas, and in order to get your Texas Barbering School License, you are expected to complete some training.

Once you complete 1,500 hours of barber training, you can apply for state barbering exams and your license. Your first step will be filling out and submitting a Barber Student Permit Application. Upon its receipt, the TDLR will issue the permit that enables you to enroll in your chosen barber training program.

Despite the fact that classes will vary depending on the school you attend, the Texas Board’s barber training requirements include the following courses:

  • Texas barber laws and rules
  • Hygienic bacteriology
  • Science of barbering
  • Histology of the hair, skin, muscles, and nerves
  • Skin and hair disorders
  • Facial treatments
  • Hair weaving
  • Wig servicing
  • Structure of the head, neck, and face
  • Elementary chemistry

Please be informed that when you complete your training, your barbering school will notify the state’s licensing vendor that you’re eligible to take your exams, which is the next big step toward earning your license.

Texas Barber License Exams and License Application

Even though the Texas Board determines your licensing requirements, you will coordinate with a third-party vendor to register for and take your barber licensing exams. Watch for your exam eligibility postcard when you finish coursework. This document will instruct you where to register for your written and practical exams.

Prior to taking your exams, be sure to read the Texas Barber Candidate Information Bulletin. It includes information on scheduling, practice exam questions, fee schedules and more for both the written and practical exams.

Texas Barbering License Written Exam

This computer-based exam tests your knowledge on a variety of barbering subjects. You will have 90 minutes to answer questions on topics that include:

  • Sanitation, disinfection, and sterilization
  • Shampooing and conditioning
  • Hair coloring
  • Nail care and skincare
  • Texas license requirements
  • Chemical waving
  • Haircutting and hairstyling
  • Texas Barbering License Practical Exam

Please be informed that you will have three hours to complete your practical exam. Make sure to include your payment with your registration, and remember to bring your own model or mannequin to your chosen test site. Refer to your Bulletin for a complete list of supplies — both labeled and unlabeled — to include in your test kit. The practical exam will test your ability to perform these barbering services:

  • Shampoo
  • Blow-dry
  • Hair shaping
  • Shaving service
  • Facial service
  • Chemical service
  • Permanent waving

Please note that the locations for both exams differ, so refer to your Bulletin or the test vendor’s website for the latest Texas barbering written exam locations. When you’ve completed both exams, the testing vendor will report your scores to the Texas Board.

Once your scores are reported, you can contact the TDLR to submit your application along with applicable fees. The Department, which will mail your license upon receipt of your materials, can be reached:

By phone: (800) 803-9202

By email:

Online at

If you are interested in securing a barber license from the State of Texas, you can send your application and fees to:

Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation

PO Box 12157

Austin, Texas 78711-2157

3. California

California is one of the states in the US that requires that you have a license before you can practice as a barber and you are expected to complete the required training before applying for a license. After completion of your program, you can send your examination application and fee to the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology.

Despite the fact that California does not currently have any continuing education requirements before issuing a barber’s license, attending seminars and training events may be helpful to your career, your networking efforts, and your professional skill set.

Usually, within 12 weeks, they should schedule your practical and written barbering exams. Once you’ve passed both of these exams, you get your initial California barber license, which allows you to work independently as a barber. If you are qualified and you want to apply for California Barbering License, you are expected to fulfill the following requirements;

  • Testing costs: $125 combined testing and licensing fees
  • Accepted payment methods: Check, money order, or cashier’s check
  • Apprenticeship options: 3200 hours of apprenticeship training and 220 classroom training hours
  • Tests available in English, Spanish, Korean, and Vietnamese

Please be informed that your barber license must be renewed in the first odd-numbered year after getting your initial license and you are expected to submit your renewal application with the renewal fee of $50 every two years. If your application is postmarked after the renewal date on your form, your fee increases to $75.

4. New York

California is one of the states in the US that requires that you have a license before you can practice as a barber and you are expected to complete the required training before applying for a license. After you finish your training at one of the state’s barber schools, New York requires that you earn your license.

You have to take a practical exam before you receive your New York barber license. This exam tests your ability to execute core barbering skills. After you pay the mandatory fees and get a passing score on your exam, you may get your license and begin working independently as a barber.

If you are qualified and you want to apply for New York Barbering License, you are expected to fulfill the following requirements;

  • Testing costs: $15 practical exam fee
  • Accepted payment methods: Fees payable by check, money order, or cashier’s check
  • License/application fees: $40 application fee
  • Apprenticeship options: May work as a registered Barber Apprentice for two years to become licensed

Requirements for Renewing Your Barber License in New York

You are expected to renew your license and good enough, New York only requires that you renew your license every four years. The renewal fee is $40, and you have to add a $10 late fee if you renew after the due date. New York does not have any continuing education requirements, but you may want to advance your education to keep your skills fresh.

5. Connecticut

In Connecticut, barbers must obtain a biennial license from the Department of Public Health (DPH) (CGS Chapter 387). Generally, initial applicants must have successfully completed (1) eighth grade or passed an equivalency exam and (2) at least 1,000 hours of study in an approved barber school. They must also pass a DPH-prescribed exam and pay a $100 fee.

If you want to apply for a license as a barber in Connecticut, you must;

  • Have graduated eighth grade or its equivalent (DPH’s website explains how a person can show equivalency, including passing the General Educational Development (GED) test or other specified examinations);
  • Have successfully completed at least 1,000 hours of study in a barber school approved by the Connecticut State Board for Barbers, Hairdressers, and Cosmeticians, or if trained outside the state, in a school with equivalent requirements to those of a Connecticut school;
  • Pass a DPH-prescribed written examination; and
  • Pay a $100 fee.

Please be informed that once you get your license, the license must be renewed every two years for the same fee (CGS § 20-253). Additional information is available on DPH’s website.

A person licensed as a barber or to perform similar services in another state, the District of Columbia, or a U.S. commonwealth or territory can be licensed without examination if the other jurisdiction requires education, training, and an exam for licensure. Applicants must pay a $100 fee unless he or she has held a barber license from another jurisdiction for at least 40 years.

In Connecticut despite the fact that a qualified person may acquire licensure by endorsement, it is important to state that licensure by endorsement is not available to an applicant who is the subject of pending professional disciplinary action or an unresolved complaint (CGS § 20-254).

Disciplinary Action and Penalties

Anyone who practices without a license, or violates other provisions of the barber laws for which no other penalty is provided, is subject to a $100 fine for a first offense. A subsequent offense is a class D misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in prison, a fine of up to $250, or both (CGS § 20-265).

DPH can revoke the license of a person convicted of violating any provision of the barber laws. The department can also take its full range of disciplinary action against a licensee for (1) drug or alcohol abuse and (2) physical, emotional, or mental illness or loss of motor skill. DPH must give a licensee notice and an opportunity for a hearing before revoking or suspending a license (CGS §§ 20-238 & 20-263).

6. Wrapping Up

In conclusion, note that if you want to obtain your barber’s license from the states not listed above, you are expected to meet the basic requirements as stated above and thereafter contact the local authority to know if you can truly get a barber license without education.