How Much Do Barbers Make (& How Can They Make More)?

August 5, 2020
Written ByPocosmo Staff

(This will be a long read, but it's worth it)

Personal Care Industry experts today almost all agree: barbering is the fastest-growing profession in the United States, and barbershops are the fastest-growing retail venue [1]. That’s true if you judge growth by the expected industry-wide revenue in barbershops (which has been growing anywhere from 3%-17% per year since 2011) [2].

It’s also true if you judge growth by the percent of the population seeking barbering services from barber shops (more men are seeking more frequent services than they have in the past decade) [3]. It’s also true if you consider the number of new market entrants — that is, the number of new barber shops opening as well as the number of people getting certified to work as barbers, whether they work in barber shops or provide barbering services elsewhere [45].

So How Much Do Barbers Make (Really)?

Generally speaking, a barber’s average yearly income today is around $27,388, with men working in barber shops tending to make a little more money ($28,708) than women working in barber shops ($23,037) [6]. That said, if you’re wondering truly how much do barbers make? it’s important to recognize that about one in ten barbers makes $50,000-$110,000 per year and about 16% of barbers report making less than $10,000 per year, so the income distribution within the industry is huge, and the average reported wage is (consequently) a little skewed [7]. What’s more, the average annual salary for barbering is growing, with the same sources reporting an average annual income of $23,000 in 2018 vs. more than $27,000 in 2019 [8].

That said, if you’re wondering truly how much do barbers make? it’s important to recognize that about one in ten barbers makes $50,000-$110,000 per year

Outside of these government-funded reports, self-reporting from real barbers when asked about their wages is much more promising. Some of the best barbers at the best barber shops report easily making as much as $2,000 per week [9]. When asked about the discrepancies between average income numbers, their answers point out a number of important things to consider. Most significantly, most government data doesn’t include cash tips in income reporting, and it’s not uncommon for barber shops to recommend tipping at least 15%-20% per service [I].

... these sources note that barber shops in some cities are able to charge much more per service and pay barbers much more per client.

What’s more, with the cost of services at barber shops generally increasing (both through upselling and through improved standard service offerings), that 15%-20% itself is getting bigger every day. Other barbers have pointed out that those government-generated reports often draw a hard line between income earned for strictly barbering services (haircuts and beard/mustache trims) and what’s earned from barbering-adjacent services, like retail sales, waxing, and skincare services, which can dramatically increase a customer’s total bill (and the barber’s total income) by anywhere from 100%-300% at the end of the day [9].

Average base salary
1.7k salaries reported, updated at Feb 29, 2020
per year
The average salary for a barber is $81,193 per year in the United States

As a result, some sources say that the answer to the question of how much do barbers make? is much higher than previous estimates have suggested, averaging as much as $82,963 for barbers working in barber shops [19]. What’s more, these sources note that barber shops in some cities are able to charge much more per service and pay barbers much more per client. For example, the answer to how much do barbers make in Philadelphia? Is much higher than the answer to how much do barbers make in Phoenix? (the answers being $151,806 and $44,561, respectively) [10].

5 Things Barbers & Barber Shops Can Do To Increase Profits

Cross-Selling Barbering Products/Merchandise

One of the fastest ways for barber shops to increase revenues and for individual barbers to increase their commission per service is to sell merchandise related to barbering services. As much as 81% of men’s grooming product sales take place in brick-and-mortar stores (like barber shops) [8]. Consequently, carrying a line of high-quality hair and beard products, offering a free trial of products during a cut/trim/style, and learning to cross-sell products based on consumer needs are all essential tools for successful barbers. Barbers who learn to do this effectively can increase their per-customer income by 15%-25% [11].

Upselling Barber Shop Services

Upselling is simply an easy way to say you’re giving customers the ability to add more services. The most popular upselling practices in barber shops — and the ones most likely to impact the answer to that all-important questions about how much do barbers make — involves selling service packages or bundles [9]. For example, offering customers the ability to have a shampoo, cut, and style together for less than the cost of getting those three services separately will prompt more customers to buy more services than they otherwise would have in any given visit.

Investing In Higher Quality Standard Services

You’d be surprised how many barbers and barber shops try to get away with charging more for the same old services (then wonder why their customers start going elsewhere). The thing is, when it comes to barber shops’ regular clientele, price is the most important element for as many as 56% of customers, and value is the most important thing to an overlapping 39% [8].

This means that people want affordable services, but they’re also willing to pay a little more if services have obviously increased in value. So investing in higher-value equipment, like better barber chairs (or better barber chair care), higher quality products, and offering value additive elements for free (like a hot-towel service or a shot of whiskey) can go a long way towards justifying higher prices and funding bigger paychecks [1].

Offering Value-Additive Barbering-Adjacent Services

One of the fastest ways to add value to any barber service is to offer barbering-adjacent services with it. While the average cost of a haircut at a barber shop is just under $30, the average cost of facial/eyebrow waxing or an express-service enzyme facial is $8-$20 or $40-$50, respectively [81213]. Adding these kinds of adjacent services that customers aren’t likely to get anywhere else can keep more clients in your barber chair for longer, keep them coming back more often, and increase the overall hourly wage earned at the end of the day.

Standing Apart From Other Barber Shops By Promising Sustainable, Eco-friendly, And Cruelty-free Services

Today, a rapidly growing number of consumers are willing to pay more to be guaranteed that the services they get are sustainable, and the products used are eco-friendly and cruelty-free. Barber shops should expect that about one-third of customers are willing to pay as much as 25% more for the same services using sustainable products [14].

Moreover, though barber shop customers are already vastly more loyal than the average consumer, adding sustainable product lines and promising eco-friendly services can increase consumer loyalty even more (reducing marketing costs and increasing average consumer spend per purchase). Consequently, barbers and barber shops that invest in sustainable hair care products and equipment, as well as eco-friendly behind-the-scenes behaviors like those related to cleaning and waste-water disposal practices, can expect to earn more money per customer than other barber shops.

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