Barbering School Sets Student on Exciting Career Path

By Lester Leopold

                                  Don Chamberlin, Thomas Nicholas and James Rogers

                                  Don Chamberlin, Thomas Nicholas and James Rogers


Don Chamberlain is looking forward to being his own boss.  He just graduated from the Buffalo School of Barbering and expects to get his state license in November.  While he understands that owning his own shop is a ways away, he knows he’s been given a solid foundation for a successful future.

Chamberlain enrolled in the barbering school, a program of Buffalo Public Schools Adult Education Division, when he decided to leave the manufacturing sector.  An injury had side-tracked him and he realized that re-careering was his best option.  His employment research led him to the school and an interview/orientation with Program Coordinator, Brenda Carmina, and the school’s top instructor, Thomas Nichols, sealed the deal.  

The Buffalo School of Cosmetology provides a comprehensive, 565-hour curriculum in hair & skin care, general sciences, and NYS exam procedures.  A mandatory 15-hour Infection Control Certification is included as well.  Students are also taught entrepreneurial and business skills that are indispensable. “You are your own boss whether you rent a chair or run your own business,” according to Chamberlain.  “You need to know how to build a business plan.”

Students also benefit from extensive professional experience in the school’s Salon Clinic which is open to the public.  Currently the barbering class is offering no-cost haircuts and wet shaves as a way of bringing in customers.  For example, clients of the Buffalo City Mission are transported to the school on a regular basis and treated to services provided by students under the supervision of NYS certified instructors such as Nichols.  (Information on all of the school’s Salon Clinic service fees is available at

In addition to being well-prepared for the state licensing exam, Chamberlain says he has gained an appreciation for what it means to have a strong work ethic and how important branding is to personal success.  “Every client whose hair you cut is a billboard for your services and the quality of your work.”  Nichols, a successful entrepreneur himself, instills that in all of his students and continues on as an advisor to many of his graduates.  Chamberlain welcomes that: “I know we’ll be friends for life.” 

The annual growth rate of the cosmetology and barbering field is estimated at 15.7%.  Highly skilled practitioners are needed to meet the increasing demand for quality services.  In view of this, Buffalo Public Schools Adult Education Division is planning to expand both its School of Cosmetology and its School of Barbering.

To that end, the Division is pursuing accreditation for these programs through the Council on Occupational Education (COE).  Because of its track record in providing quality career & technical education programs, the Division is currently a COE candidate.  Once accredited, the Division will apply to the US Department of Education so that it can offer financial aid.  With that in place, more WNY students will be able to apply and gain access to training that is relevant to employment opportunities that provide a living wage.

The Buffalo School of Barbering is housed at the same location as the Adult Education Division’s Buffalo School of Cosmetology, 2625 Delaware Avenue in the Delaware Place Plaza.  Both schools offer open enrollment on a monthly basis.  Open House & Assessment sessions are available Mondays from 3:00 – 6:00 PM and Fridays from 9:00 AM – 12 Noon.  Appointments are preferred but not required.  For more information on either school, contact Brenda Carmina at (716) 871-1029 ext. 204 or visit

(Lester Leopoldis Director, Adult & Continuing Education Buffalo Public Schools)