Cosmetology V.S. Barbering:
What Are The Differences?
Should I be Dual Licensed?


If you’re a touch confused about the differences between a barber and a cosmetologist, we’ve got good news --- you’re not alone! A lot of people, beauty biz people or not, tend to mix these two up and have questions about the differences.

Even if you’re a beauty industry expert, the truth is, barbering and cosmetology actually do have a lot of overlap, so it can be a little difficult to dispel the differences between the two.

That being said, they are distinctly different careers and can take you down very different paths, so if you’re looking to get into or the other – of if you’re considering double licensing – it’s important to understand what each of these careers entails.

We’ve done a little in-depth detailing to get you the need-to-know info on both of these industries so you can have a better idea of what you’re dealing with for each path. We even took it a step further and laid out a few of the basic ideas behind double licensing in both cosmetology and barbering, to see if it makes sense for you! Check out our advice below and let us know what you think!


Let’s Talk Cosmetology: What Does it Entail

For both of these professions, we’re going to break it down to the basics so you can get the real deal on what each of these careers entails. Cosmetology, by definition, is the practice of beautification for hair, skin, and the face. Let’s dive into that.

For starters, cosmetology is broad. It can cover hair skills, makeup artistry, esthetician skills, nail technician, and so much more! It ranges amongst all these things, but there is a traditional focus on hair for cosmetologists, which is what makes it so confusing when we start setting it side-by-side with barbering. Before we explain this more, note that the biggest difference between a cosmetologist and a barber is that typically, cosmetologists are licensed to perform services beyond just hair-based services.

Beyond that, though, cosmetologists can offer different hair services than barbers can. For example, cosmetologists can offer chemical services like hair color, chemical straighteners, perms, and more. Often, this is not included in barber’s training or on their list of services offered.

Both cosmetologists and barbers are required to pass exams and have a certain number of certification hours before they’re able to receive their licenses. Typically, the requirements for each vary on the state the barber or cosmetologist is located.


The Buzz on Barbering: Understand the Basics

Barbering is typically thought of to be a service geared specifically toward men, however, barbers are fully able to serve both men and women. Traditionally, a barber will offer more versatile and useful services for men, such as haircuts, hair styling, shaving, beard trimming and styling, and much more. Barbers have a sole focus on hair, and most of the time (this is not always the rule), will have a focus on simple cutting techniques and styling training. The biggest difference is that barbering is strictly focused on hair, whereas cosmetology has a much broader inclusion, such as nails, skin, hair, and more. Barbering is much more zeroed in on hair and facial hair training and experience, and again, is typically focused on men’s needs.

Like cosmetologists, barbers need to go through various courses and take various exams to receive their barber licenses and certifications. Again, the requirements for barbers will vary state-by-state.


So, Should I Consider Double Licensing?

Here’s the cool thing about barbering and cosmetology – while there’s some overlap, they’re inherently different practices an careers. Translation? You’ll learn different skills, be able to offer different services, and open up a whole new client base with each of these licenses.

Does this mean that you should double license?

The reality is, it’s ultimately up to you!

You should consider dual-licensing if any of the following apply to you:

You Want to Offer a Wider Variety of Services

As we said, with cosmetology, you can offer a broad array of services, but this also works vice versa. There might be tons of male-centric styling and cutting techniques that you might not necessarily learn in cosmetology school that could benefit your business. With both licenses, you can offer more services than with just one license.

You Want to Open Yourself Up to a Broader Market

Building off the last point, with more services, you’re opening yourself up to new markets that you might not normally have reached. If you’re a licensed barber, you’re reaching a set clientele, but if you add in some cosmetology services (Hair color, skin services, nails, etc.), you’re opening your shop or business up to a much bigger, broader market.

You Want to Expand Your Skills and Broaden Your Creativity

This is a great way to get your creative juices flowing! You’ll have to think differently, grow as an artist, and understand a whole new set of creative obstacles! Dual-licensing might help to improve your creativity and artistry overall.

You Like to Challenge Yourself

If you’re consistently seeking improvement and new challenges, double licensing could be an awesome choice! You’ll have to explore and conquer a whole new set of challenges, do things you might never have before, and learn an entirely new skill. It’s tough but guaranteed to be rewarding.

You Believe it Would Benefit You in Your Current Location

Perhaps where you’re located now might benefit from your double license. If you believe that you could offer more services and benefit from it where you’re presently located, double licensing might be the right route.

You Think It Might Help Your Career in the Future

If you feel that double licensing might help you sometime in the future, there’s no time like the present to start working on it! The sooner you achieve this license, the sooner you can implement it!

That being said, if you’re perfectly satisfied with a license in one or the other, then that’s okay, too! Dual licensing isn’t for everybody, and that’s okay! There are plenty of single-licensed folks out there who have a blast with what they do, are plenty successful, and never feel the need to double license.

Again, it’s entirely up to you and what you believe will work best for you – make sure you’re considering each license from all angles before making your decision!