How to Become a

Shoe Shiner

The complete career guide to be a Shoe Shiner: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $24,950
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 6.3%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Don't Take Work Home
    Career Attribute

A shoe shiner provides shoe and boot shine services for repairs and maintenance, to customers at various locations, be it at the airport or on the street corner. Sometimes, shoe shiners also repair and polish leather belts, luggage, purses, and jackets as well. The ideal shoe shiner is usually very motivated, easy-going and results oriented, exercising a high level of ownership.


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What is a Shoe Shiner?


The duties of a shoe shiner are quite straightforward, and includes the following points:

  • Pay attention to detail and thoroughly clean and polish footwear for customers using a brush.
  • Ensure that grime and old polish or wax is removed from any leather footwear, using brush or sponge dipped in cleaning fluid or soapy water.
  • With sandpaper or a wire brush, buff buck or suede footwear for a good clean up.
  • Maintain cleanliness and hygiene at the shoe shine stand, by sweeping or mopping floors and dusting furnishings as needed.
  • Apply liquid dressing or dry wax by hand or dauber, to fabric areas of the shoe to revive the appearance of cloth.

Day in the life

Your day to day work will involve meeting people from various walks of life, be it businessmen, lawyers, shopkeepers, artists, athletes or company CEOs. Besides executing an outstanding shoe shine, you are expected to be charming and conversational with every customer while providing a memorable shoe shine experience.

Consulting with customers on the best shoe care will also be one of your duties at hand. Some of the other daily tasks that can emerge includes repairing worn seams of all kinds of shoes, attaching shoe soles, reshaping shoes, and even changing shoe colors.

Work schedule and typical hours

The number of work hours may vary but will be approximately 37-40 hours per week. You might work a flexible schedule with shifts such as 6 am – 9 am, if you join a company versus doing a solo business.

Growth of the job

It typically takes six months to two years of training on-the-job to become a fully qualified shoe repair worker. Professional shoe shine services are seen as a hit or miss, so maintaining quality is important for a successful business. There are better opportunities for growth with bigger companies, that sometimes offer a comprehensive, flexible employee benefits package that includes medical/vision and dental coverage, an employer-matched 401(K) savings and much more.

Typical employers

Hotels, event spaces, offices, shopping centers and airports employ shoe shiners to provide an entertaining service for customers, that is also essential in those contexts. Travelers always need to pay attention to their shoes, yet find no time to execute shoe maintenance on their own time. Sometimes, shoe shiners will visit multiple businesses to gauge work opportunities based on customer reactions.

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How To Become a Shoe Shiner

Anyone can become a shoeshine professional since there is no formal career path to get into this business. A high school diploma is a minimum requirement for coveted positions in the shoe shine and repair industry, while some shoe shiners learn their skills through on-the-job training. Low investment is required and you can set up your business in no time at all. There are also a select few shoe repair vocational programs, teaching machine use and small business skills.

Depending on where you are planning to start the business, you might need a license for your shoeshine business. Each city or state has its own set of requirements. For instance, a traveling vendor license might be needed for the purpose of visiting businesses to offer your services or shine shoes on the street. Checking with the local licensing office for details is important.

To start off as a shoe shiner, you will need to invest in a sturdy stand with chairs, good quality shoe brushes, many cotton cloths, a range of shoe polishes and assorted leather care products. Most of these items are easily available at any local shoe repair, drug or

grocery store. Like any service business, the best strategy is to practice the techniques for a great shoe shine and doing some research on the intricacies of running a shoe shine business full-time.

Shoe Shiner Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

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High Range


National Hourly Wage

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High Range


How do Shoe Shiner salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Shoe Shiner's can make an average annual salary of $24,950, or $12 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make $19,330 or $9 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #773 Nationally for All Careers

Highest Education Among Shoe Shiners

  • 0.7%   Doctorate
  • 3.5%   Masters
  • 14.7%   Bachelors
  • 8.9%   Associates
  • 29.4%   College
  • 33%   High School
  • 9.9%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Shoe Shiner job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 5,900 jobs for a total of 99,100 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 6.3% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #351 Nationally for All Careers

What Companies Employ The Most Shoe Shiners

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Self-employed workers 27,500 2,500 3%
State government, excluding education and hospitals 14,600 200 0%
Personal care services 9,400 -100 ---

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