Master Barber vs Cosmetologist

When trying to determine a career route, it’s an extremely tedious and time-consuming task. It involves exploring several career paths until you ultimately find one that you feel you’d enjoy and be happy with down the road. If after exploring your career options you’ve decided that pursuing an education to be either a cosmetologist or master barber may be a great fit for you, the last choice is to narrow it down to which you’d prefer to pursue. Determining the differences and similarities between becoming a master barber or a cosmetologist is the first step toward narrowing down your future career path. But first, what exactly is a master barber, and what is a cosmetologist? Learn more below about the specifics of each role.

What is a Master Barber?

Pursuing a career as a master barber includes all of the typical barber school training, such as hair cutting, hair coloring, and hairstyling using tools such as clippers, razors, or shears. However, the level of expertise and experience gained throughout your master barber education is what truly sets it apart from the usual barber school. According to Barber Schools, master barbers also learn to do permanent hair waving, hair relaxing, hairpiece fitting, and a number of other facial and hair-related services.

Throughout your education, you can expect to also learn about health and safety guidelines that must be adhered to, as well as skin-related disorders and diseases that you may experience throughout your future career. Many master barber programs also provide education on managing a salon, best business practices, and how to effectively communicate with clients. As a master barber, you’ll have mastered your skill level in the barbering arts field, when compared to typical barber technicians who may not be fully trained or licensed. They may also not have the proper training and may not be permitted to carry out certain services that master barbers learn throughout their education. 

What is a Cosmetologist?

If you pursue an education in cosmetology, it can be thought of as the study and application of beauty treatments. There are several different career routes you could follow within this field, as it typically consists of education on haircutting and design, texturizing, makeup artistry, skincare services, nail services, and barbering. After technology made it easier for trends to quickly sweep the country, the cosmetology field quickly took off. In fact, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are nearly 623,000 people in the US alone that have been employed as a cosmetologist at some point throughout their careers.

As a cosmetologist, you could work in a variety of different settings depending on the specific path you decide to pursue. For example, if you have more of a passion for the skincare side of the field, you may find yourself working in a spa. Whereas, if you have more of a passion for haircutting and hairstyling, you’ll most likely end up working in some type of hair salon.

What Are the Similarities Between a Master Barber and Cosmetologist?

Of course, when addressing the two, there are several notable similarities between the two fields. As a universal factor, master barbers and cosmetologists are both greatly involved in the hair cutting, styling, and treatment process. This is why you may find yourself struggling to choose between the two, as they both are very similar in this aspect. They are both similar in the required schooling, as well. In most cases, the typical schooling requirements are pretty much the same, if not comparable to one another. For example, they both require a high school diploma or GED, they both have an age requirement that must be met, and they both require a similar number of hours when pursuing their certification programs. For example, Genesis Career College offers programs in both master barbering and cosmetology. Gathering further information on the similarities and differences between their two programs may be a great way to determine which field is of better interest to you!

What are the Differences?

Although there are distinct similarities between the two fields, there are also some drastic differences, as well. For example, as mentioned previously, when pursuing an education as a cosmetologist, there are several different career paths available for exploration within that field. As a cosmetologist, you’ll learn a wide range of beauty and wellness subsets, not just hair-related services as you would as a master barber. As a cosmetologist, your list of daily duties could involve any of the following:

  • Nail care
  • Haircutting/styling
  • Makeup application
  • Skincare services
  • Waxing services
  • Manicures/Pedicures

Another difference is the workplace opportunities available, as they may vary slightly between the two fields. In some cases, there are specific gendered responsibilities for master barbers, and they are sometimes more limited in their available workplaces than cosmetologists. For example, certain states require that barbers work in male-only barbershops. Although times are quickly shifting, ensuring that you’re checking in on your state’s guidelines may be important when weighing between the two fields.

Overall, when deciding to pursue an education as either a cosmetologist or a master barber, there are a lot of similarities and differences to consider. The differences are most likely what will sway your opinion one way or another, considering the similarities will be prevalent regardless of the route you decide to pursue. Both fields can be fulfilling, it just involves doing some research prior and determining which path is right for you.

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