According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 53,500 people work as barbers in the United States. Barbers are typically paid a set amount per client, and can increase their income by increasing their daily customers. Barbershop owners often receive a percentage of sales, and the income of an owner is linked to the number of barbers working in the shop.
Barbers provide personal care services such as haircuts, hairstyling and shampooing. Some barbers also offer hair coloring or facial shaving services. In a barbershop, each working area or barber chair is usually leased to independent contractors. The owner of a barbershop may also serve customers, or act as an absentee owner and simply collect payments from other barbers. Every state requires barbers to complete a training program and be licensed. Owners who work as barbers in their own shop must also meet this requirement.
Barbers earn a median hourly wage of $11.56, according to a 2008 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, the BLS does not specifically track income for barbershop owners. As independent contractors, most barbers must pay to use shop space. The American College of Hairstyling states that this payment is often a percentage of daily sales. A 20 percent owner commission is common. This means that for a typical $15 haircut, $3 must be paid to the shop owner while $12 is kept by the barber. Based on these reported numbers and assuming an eight-hour workday, owner income can be estimated. For example, a shop owner would make $72 from a location with three barbers, if each gave one haircut every hour.
Several factors can influence the actual income of a barbershop owner. If the owner also chooses to work as a barber and offer cosmetic services to customers, his income can rise significantly. A working shop owner can receive payment from the other barbers in a location, in addition to the median hourly wage of $11.56. The amount of leased space and number of barbers can also affect earnings. A busy shop with many working barbers will provide a much higher level of owner income than a smaller location with only one or two workers.
The BLS reports that earnings and employment opportunities in the barber and personal appearance occupations are expected to grow rapidly in the near future. The Bureau states that opportunities for barbers will expand by 12 percent between 2008 and 2018. This growth is due to a growing population, and an increasing demand for cosmetic and style services.