BPSS Curriculum Guideline: Barber Operator (previously Master Barber)

These Guidelines concern only NYSED and/or BPSS expectations for curriculum review. Prior to submitting your new curriculum for review, please make sure to follow the instructions and advice below:

General Technicalities

  • When uploading curriculum material to my.ny.gov, always use the <Coursework Details> tab instead of <Other> or <Miscellaneous>.
  • For new curriculum, expect up to 90 days for review. Note that an approved curriculum may sometimes have to be revised/updated afterwards.
  • Curriculum title MUST be descriptive and clear, with NO advertising or cutesy name (such as “The Cutz!”).
  • The sole goal of a barbering curriculum is to make students eligible to take the NYS Barber Operator (previously Master Barber) exam and obtain the barber license. There is no other educationally legitimate purpose for a barber curriculum. Please note that the Practical is set by the Department of State. The DOS-Division of Licensing Services is the final authority over matters related to the barber examination.

General Content

  • For BPSS only, the entrance requirement for this curriculum MUST be High School Diploma/GED/TASC or an Ability-to-Benefit test at the 8th/9th grade level, such as TABE, or Wonderlic Basic Skills Test verbal score 200/quantitative 210. DOS may exclude certain students from taking the barber exam based on prior convictions. If your prospective student might have such issues from the past, have him/her contact DOS for clarification (and which documents may be needed to override past issues).
  • The standard length of this program varies, as long as approved by NYSED. In practice though, at least 500 hrs for beginners. The NYSED Career and Technical Education standard curriculum (540 hours) can be approved by BPSS. Note that if you choose to create your own version of the curriculum, this curriculum might have to be evaluated by a BPSS expert evaluator, or a pre-evaluator hired by the school and approved by BPSS, which will cost you an additional fee.
  • The Barbering program should permit the student to successfully pass the NYS-DOS licensing exam which consists of skills only.
  • You MUST prepare/teach your students to perform the necessary Barbering duties in the exact manner prescribed by the DOS Division of Licensing Services. However, be advised that while passing the Barber Practical Examination is enough for a Barber Operator License, it is realistically not sufficient for successfully entering the trade. The curriculum should therefore include additional material, including the business elements of being a barber.
  • While DOS provides material on the test in several languages other than English (LOTE), the test itself is given only in English. If you teach in a LOTE, your students MUST take an ESL test, such as CELSA, and score at least at a low intermediate level.

Infection Control Course/Unit

  • Every barber MUST take the state-mandated course on Infection Control given by a licensed barber school. Every BPSS-approved curriculum leading to licensure by DOS includes this module. As a self-standing course, it is intended for barber apprentices. The course has a set 3 hours length. A BPSS-licensed school that wishes to offer this course can do so as a classroom course, a correspondence course (with a textbook, and an open-book exam that MUST be graded by the school), or as an online course. When given by correspondence/online, a teacher MUST be available, by phone or email, for student questions. Note that distance/correspondence and classroom versions will be approved as separate curricula.

Method of Instruction

  • When in doubt, select “Classroom”. If you want blended learning for some units (part online, part in-class), make sure to read the BPSS Curriculum Guidelines on Distance Learning, and work with the curriculum unit. Note that in order to create an approved blended learning unit it generally takes longer than 90 days.

Textbooks and Instructional Aids

Equipment List

  • • Equipment MUST be to industry standards, specifically what is found in barber shops; it does not need to be the latest technology, but it cannot be obsolete either. Divide List into “Classroom Equipment” and “Classroom Expendables” and “Student Kit”. The “Student Kit” MUST include everything that students need for the Practical. Most listed items will require a definite number, but Expendables can be “As needed”.
  • For all heavy equipment (such as the barber chair), specify manufacturer AND model number.
  • Students MUST have access to sinks with running COLD AND HOT water in the classroom. Equipment MUST include: classroom equipment (such as barber chairs); barbicide; cabinets for storage of clean linen and towels; and separate containers for soiled linen/towels AND waste.
  • Classrooms MUST have adequate lighting and proper ventilation. Floors MUST be easily cleaned and kept clean.

Content Outline and Performance Objectives

  • Use (the former) 21a Content Outline guidelines to show how students progress through the curriculum and (the former) 21b Performance Objectives to explain how the teacher tests student mastery of the subject matter. Note that the CTE 540 hrs curriculum does include this.
  • For Performance Objectives, you MUST describe what the student will do to show the instructor that he/she learned the subject matter. For the theory component, this will include quizzes, homework, and class answers; for the skills component, practical demonstrations.
  • You MUST be able to document at all times how many hours a student has completed, and in which subject matter, as well as make-up hours. Do NOT track your course as “Barbering”— which is the name of the curriculum—but by the individual courses/units it is broken down into.


  • There are only two routes in NYS towards eligibility for taking the barber state boards: (1) taking a course approved for licensure at an SED-approved program (BPSS, BOCES, or EOP) or (2) through a 2-year internship at a licensed barber shop. BPSS schools cannot provide that internship. Most of the practical training in a barber school will be at the school during clinic. If a school wants to include a brief internship in their curriculum, to give students an idea of what real salon work is like, they can do so, and will have to use the latest BPSS standard Affiliation Agreement. The student will need an NYSDOS apprentice card as well. Educationally, such an internship should NOT be longer than 50 hrs.


  • Indicate any and all changes in a letter uploaded under <Coursework Details>. Upload the complete, previously approved, curriculum (including approval letter) in one PDF under <Coursework Details>. Then upload the revised/amended curriculum as a second PDF.

General Caveats

  • Note that if your barber school will be operating from an existing barber salon, then the two cannot operate at the same time. You will have to schedule the school operation so that the salon is closed during that time, and vice-versa. Note that BPSS may request a new fire department approval, to ensure that the premises, now used as an adult-education school, will fulfill fire safety requirements.
  • Note that after approval, BPSS will notify DOS of the its approval. DOS will issue you a testing number. Be advised that this process may take time. Please note that DOS uses an electronic licensing system to validate student training. You need to become familiar with the DOS system.
  • Note that NO BPSS CURRICULUM APPROVAL, EVEN WHEN GIVEN IN ERROR, CAN OVERRIDE THE LAW! Just because BPSS approves the curriculum does NOT mean that the DOS will also approve. You MUST be familiar with the legal requirements in your offering.

Any further questions, please contact bpsscurriculum@nysed.gov