A barber is simply a person (man or woman) who cuts hair and shaves or trims beards. Many years ago, barbers were also involved in dentistry and even performed surgery. These days, however, barbers stick to cutting hair and performing very close shaves with very sharp razor blades! Most barbers work in barber shops and only cut men’s hair and shave or trim beards, but some barbers prefer working in hairdressing salons. Whereas a barber is usually qualified to perform all hairdressing tasks, such as colouring and perming, it is uncommon for hairdressers to shave or trim beards. Contrary to popular belief, many women also go to barbers for haircuts.
With the advent of the metrosexual man, many men have started looking after their appearance a bit more, which means that, instead of just going to a unisex hair salon, they are now frequenting barber shops, such as the one owned by Jacques Meiring and Deon Potgieter.
Jacques entered this career completely by chance. He was working as a security guard in a shopping mall parking area when he approached owner André Nortjé about a job as an apprentice. Five years later, he is one of the regional managers. Deon also started in this career with a bit of luck. André approached him one day and encouraged him to pursue a career as a barber and now, six years later, he is also a regional manager.
A barber can earn R1 200 to R1 800 as an apprentice. Once qualified, he can take home R5 000 to R15 000 a month.
As a barber, you will be required to perform haircuts in all styles to the client’s specifications. You will also need to perform shaves on clients. The company standards will need to be upheld regarding the haircuts and shaves, and the barber must make sure that the shop is clean and hygienic.
“The pros,” say both men, “are that you meet new people, make new contacts in different businesses, and that there is two-way support between you and the client. The cons are that some clients are very negative and can cause you to lose other clients. In addition, there are other shop owners who try and steal your staff.”
Barber @ gives their barbers on-the-job training. To officially become a barber, however, they then have to complete an apprenticeship of seven years, followed by a trade test at Olifantsfontein.
You need to have a strong personality, and be friendly and a good listener, to follow this career. Some skills you need include the ability to work with your hands, good hand-eye coordination, a sense of creativity and art and, finally, communication skills.
Your work hours will depend on the centre or mall you work at but, on average, you will work 40 to 45 hours a week, with overtime. On an average day, a barber will cut hair, do shaves and keep the shop clean, while acting professionally at all times. A shop may serve 30 to 40 clients a day, while a barber can see 15 to 20 clients a day. “The busiest days are usually just after the school holidays and weekends,” says Deon.
“The best thing about the job is being able to offer a service to the public and seeing happy clients leave the shop,” say Jacques and Deon. “The worst thing about the job is an unhappy client, and the one percent of clients that make it uncomfortable for everyone else.”
“You have to crawl before you can walk. If you work hard, you will reap the rewards,” smiles Deon.
“Pay attention in class and apply what you have learnt,” says Jacques. “If you can stick to one job, barbering is for you.”