Rhode Island Barber License & Training Requirements

Obtaining Your Rhode Island Barbering School License

Rhode Island has been a trendsetter since the colony became the first to denounce the British Crown. Despite being surrounded by other larger states, today’s Rhode Island has its own unique style influenced by its maritime and colonial heritage. The state has bounced back from industrial declines with new businesses and cultural districts. These new opportunities bring workers in need of traditional and contemporary barbershop services and skilled professional barbers who are licensed to offer them.

If you’re interested in becoming a barber In Rhode Island, the first step is to find a barber or cosmetology school that fits your needs. Once you’ve selected a school and satisfied your training program requirements, you’ll apply for your license through the  State of Rhode Island Department of Health. The state’s licensing requirements are enforced by the Rhode Island Board of Hairdressing and Barbering.

Rhode Island Barbering School and Apprenticeship Training Options

If you choose to attend a Rhode Island barber training program, the state Board requires you to earn at least 1,500 hours of training in barber classes that cover both theory and practical training. A sampling of the subjects you’ll study for your barber licensing requirements include:

  • Tapered and styled haircutting
  • Mustaches and beards
  • Shaving
  • Shampooing
  • Waving
  • Honing and stropping
  • Facial massage
  • Hair coloring
  • Sanitation and infection control

If you would rather meet your Rhode Island barber training and licensing requirements through a barber apprenticeship, you will need to register with the state Board. Once you’ve identified a licensed barber who agrees to supervise your full-time work for two full years, you can complete and submit your Rhode Island Barber Apprentice Application. When you complete your apprenticeship, your employer will submit an affidavit that verifies you’ve completed your training and are ready to apply for your barber license.

A third option for Rhode Island barber college candidates is to combine classroom and barber apprenticeship training. By completing 1,000 classroom hours and 840 hours of on-the-job training over six months, you can meet the state Board’s requirements for this hybrid option.

Submitting your Rhode Island Barber License Application

Once you complete your preferred training option, submit an initial barber license application to the Board. This document notifies officials you’re ready to take your licensing exam and serves as your official application. Be sure to include:

  • A recent passport photograph
  • A certified copy of your birth certificate
  • High school transcripts
  • Barbering school transcripts
  • The current application fee

Rhode Island Barbering Exam and Licensing Specifics

Once you submit your application, you will need to pass your Rhode Island licensing exams. The Board will attain and administer the exams, which were created by the National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology (NIC). A score of 70% or higher on both the written and practical exam is required to pass.

Written Barbering Theory Exam

This 90-minute, multiple-choice, written barber licensing exam covers barbering theory. You’ll be tested on a range of barbering subjects that may include:

  • Infection control and safe practices
  • Tools and implements
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Chemistry
  • Electricity and light
  • Hair and scalp disorders and structure
  • Draping procedures for facial shaving services
  • Facial treatments
  • Shaving procedures
  • Hair design
  • Client consultation

Hands-On Practical Exam

You will need to bring your own kit and model for the practical exam that tests your ability to perform barbering duties and tasks that include:

  • Setup and client protection
  • Shaving with a straight razor
  • Haircutting
  • Basic facial
  • Final cleanup and summary

Once you satisfactorily pass both exams, the Board will issue your initial Rhode Island barbering license.

Rhode Island Out-of-State License Reciprocity

If you already have your barber’s license when you move to Rhode Island, you can apply to the Board to determine whether you qualify for state endorsement of your existing credentials. To apply, submit the previously mentioned application materials plus a copy of your out-of-state driver’s license and proof of your existing license.

You will still have to take Rhode Island’s barbering license exams, but if you’re endorsed by the Board you’ll be issued a 90-day temporary license that allows you to work while you wait to take your exams.

Requirements for Renewing Your Rhode Island Barber License

Your Rhode Island barber license will expire every two years on September 30th. Watch for your renewal application around the first of September in your renewal years. You can renew your license by mail or through the Rhode Island Department of Health website.  

You won’t be required to complete any continuing education hours to renew your license. Attending such classes are, however, a great way to stay informed on new styles, techniques, and barbering products.

Nationwide, demand for licensed barbers is growing. Considering the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the trend to continue through 2026, now is a great time to find a barber course that suits your needs. Earns your barbering license, and you’ve got a solid foundation for a successful career helping Rhode Islanders look their best.

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