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B is for Barber

by Charles Lartey
March 2016

A projected 5.8 percent increase in beautician/cosmetologist jobs according DEED’s Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) reflects the value society puts on “looking good”. A beautician/cosmetologist provides beauty services such as shampooing, cutting, coloring, and styling hair, and massaging and treating the scalp according to the OES definition. Beauticians also refer to themselves as Barber Stylist, Cosmetologist, Hairdresser, Hairstylist, Manager Stylist, or Nail Technician.

Barbers focus more on precision cuts with straight razors, trimming, styling hair, trimming beards, or giving shaves. Below is a list of areas in Minnesota with their employment and wages for beautician/cosmetologists.

Tasks for Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists

Cuts, trims, and shapes hair or hair pieces using clippers, scissors, trimmers, and razors

Attaches wig or hairpiece to model head and dresses wigs and hairpieces according to instructions, samples, sketches, or photographs

Massages and treats scalp for hygienic and remedial purposes using hands, fingers, or vibrating equipment

Analyzes patron’s hair and other physical features or reads makeup instructions to determine and recommend beauty treatment

Updates and maintains customer information records, such as beauty services provided

Cleans, shapes, and polishes fingernails and toenails using files and nail polish

Shapes and colors eyebrows or eyelashes and removes facial hair using depilatory cream and tweezers

Recommends and applies cosmetics, lotions, and creams to patron to soften and lubricate skin and enhance and restore natural appearance

Administers therapeutic medication and advises patron to seek medical treatment for chronic or contagious scalp conditions

Combs, brushes, and sprays hair or wigs to set style

Shampoos, rinses, and dries hair and scalp or hairpieces with water, liquid soap, or other solutions

Bleaches, dyes, or tints hair using applicator or brush

Applies water, setting, or waving solutions to hair and winds hair on curlers or rollers

Source: DEED, Labor Market Information Office, Occupational Employment Statistics


First Quarter 2015 Employment Estimates



% Change

Median Wage





Seven County Metro




Central Minnesota




Northeast Minnesota




Southeast Minnesota




Southwest Minnesota




Northwest Minnesota




Source: DEED, Labor Market Information Office, Occupational Employment Statistics


To earn a license as a barber or beautician/cosmetologist in the state of Minnesota, those who are interested are required by law to have formal training. To enter these programs, candidates may be required to have a high school diploma or the equivalent. There are different certification programs candidates can go through which can last between nine months and three year depending on the type of school and certifications of interest. Students must complete the requirements listed below by the Minnesota State Board of Cosmetologist Examiners and Board of Barber Examiners to earn the certification. To meet the qualifications candidates must attend a licensed school with a qualified curriculum, complete the state of Minnesota’s minimum required training hours, and then take board exams. The exam consists of a written, oral, and practical test, and the candidate must make the minimum score to pass it. Below is a table of licenses and their requirements.

Minnesota Board of Cosmetology and Barbers License Requirements (2015)



Cosmetologist License

1550 Hours

Cosmetology Instructor License

Cosmetology License
1400 Hours Work Experience
38 Training Hours
3 Exams

Minnesota Board of Barbers Examiners

Barber License

Apprentice Barber -1500 hrs

Master Barber

Apprentice Barber -1500 hrs
Apprenticeship under a Master Barber

Source: Minnesota Board off Cosmetologist Examiners and Minnesota Board of Barber Examiners

Training programs typically include education on hair cutting and grooming services, business management, hygiene as prescribed by public safety regulations, and licensing requirements. Barbers are eligible to be apprentice barbers for four years. They must prepare for and take the Registered (Master) Barber examination within the four year once they have completed the 1500 hour period holding an apprentice barber license and working under a master barber. If apprentice barbers fail to attain the master barber certification during their time as apprentice, they will have to retake the apprentice test. After candidates have earned enough hours during their apprenticeship, they can take the board test. A minimum score of 75 percent is required on all parts of the exam to pass. However, a pending bill before the Legislature will change the apprentice program or take it away completely if it passes. No changes can or will go into effect unless a bill is ultimately passed.

Under what conditions do Beautician/Cosmetologists and Barbers Work in Minnesota?

According to the 2014 American Community Survey’s detailed staffing pattern, more than 75 percent of barbers and over 35% of beautician/cosmetologists are self-employed. Beautician/cosmetologists and barbers is a major industry sector that includes among others people who work in beauty salons, hair, nail and skin care services, barber shops, and other personal care services. Industries with the highest published employment and median wages for this occupation can be found in the table below.

First Quarter 2015 Employment Estimates



Median Wage

Other Services



Trade, Transportation, and Utilities



Education and Health Services



Source: DEED, Labor Market Information Office, Occupational Employment Statistics

Unemployment Insurance for both barbers and beautician/cosmetologists is spotty in Minnesota. The state UI law excludes truly independent contractors from coverage. This is determined on a case by case basis by the agency, but most barbers and beautician/cosmetologists who rent chairs in a shop they do not own are found to be independent and therefore not covered by Unemployment Insurance. As a result they do not appear in our numbers.
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