California Licensing Overview for a Barber

Licensing for a barber in California is controlled by the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology.

General Guidelines for a Barber in California

Specific requirements to perform barber services can generally be used as a guideline, but make sure to check with your local governing rules and regulations.

Who’s allowed to perform these services?

Anyone holding a barber license

General requirements for a barber license?

1,500 hours training at barber school
3,000 hours apprenticeship in a barber shop

What’s the state licensing site for a barber?

California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology

What are some training programs available for a barber?

See training programs

How long is a license good for and when do I need to renew?

Renews every 2 years.

What are fees associated with licensing?


Barber Licensing

A barber is a professional who specializes in the cutting, styling, and grooming of men and boy’s hair and beards. This profession has a long-standing history filled with tradition and is an important subsection of the beauty industry. Many of the techniques and tools of barbering are as old as the profession itself. This includes the tools, techniques and overall aesthetic of the barbershop itself. Barbers are experts in their field. A barber’s job is primarily in customer satisfaction, which revolves around the customer service, friendliness, and communication of the barber.

To become a licensed barber in California there are several steps that must be taken.

  1. The completion of a formal barber program or apprenticeship
  2. Apply for registration with the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology
  3. Undertake state licensing exams
  4. Ensure your license remains up to date


The completion of a formal barber program or apprenticeship

In California there are two methods in which to gain the necessary qualifications to become a licensed barber: through a formal barbering program or through a barbering apprenticeship. When going the route of a formal barbering program, students are required to undertake a minimum of 1,500 hours of registered coursework.

To become a licensed barber through an apprenticeship, students are required to undertake a minimum of 3,000 hours of training under the direct supervision of a fully licensed barber. This fully licensed barber must a minimum of 5 years of experience as a barber and have worked in a licensed barbershop for a minimum of 2 years. Students are required to first complete a 39-hour pre-apprenticeship training program from an approved program sponsor before they can begin their apprenticeship studies.


Apply for registration in the state of California

Following the completion of formal education, either via an institution or apprenticeship, barbers are required to apply for initial registration with California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology. Applicants must be at least 17 years of age and have completed a minimum of year 10 of high school. Once this application has been processed, barbers are then able to apply for the licensing examinations. In order to have this application processed, applicants are required to submit:

  • The Barber Application for Examination
  • An application fee of $125 


Undertake state licensing exams

In California there are two licensing exams that must be completed: the theoretical exam and the practical exam. Barber examinations in California are conducted by PSI Services LLC, who utilizes the examinations of the National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology (NIC). California requires barbers to successfully complete their theoretical examination before they undertake their practical examination. There will be a fee for these examinations.

The main concepts that will be covered in the theory exam may include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Scientific concepts
  • Hair services
  • Facial hair services
  • Skin care and facial services

The main concepts that are covered in the practical examination may include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Set up and client protection
  • Haircutting
  • Shaving with a straight razor
  • Chemical Waving
  • Virgin hair lightening
  • Chemical Relaxing

Barbers will be sent an official notice from the Board detailing their results from both examinations. If successful, barbers will be licensed to practice within the state of California.


Ensure your license remains up to date

Licensed barbers are required to update their license every two years on odd-numbered years. There is a fee of $50 for this renewal. This can be done easily online through the board’s website.

There is currently no ongoing education needs for barbers during their licensing period in California. However, many barbers may choose to undertake ongoing education to further their career opportunities and stay up to date in current fashions and trends.