How Can I Get a Hair Braiding License?
Do you want to work as a hair braider or natural hair stylist? Are you unsure how to get licensed in your state? Read on to learn about requirements for licensure and whether your state requires a hair braiding license in order for you to work. Schools offering Culinary Arts degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
Check if You're Exempt from Hair Braiding Training in Your State
You may not need any type of schooling or license to work as a hair braider, depending on where you live. You don't need a license in California, according to the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology (www.barbercosmo.ca.gov). In Mississippi, you have to pass a test and register with the state's Department of Health (www.msdh.ms.gov). Other states with similar policies require only a health test and registration fee. In other cases, you may be exempt from obtaining a hair braiding license if you're already in possession of a cosmetology license.
Check the Licensure Requirements for Your State
While some states require that hair braiders undergo full cosmetology training to become licensed, other states require braiding-specific training. The definition of training also varies by location.
Requirements for Full Cosmetology Training
The amount of training you'll have to complete to be a licensed cosmetologist who can work as a hair braider depends on your state. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in order to take most states' cosmetology licensing exams, you must have a high school diploma or its equivalent, be at least 16 years old and have graduated from a secondary school cosmetology program or a postsecondary cosmetology school (www.bls.gov). Most postsecondary cosmetology programs take about nine months to complete, according to the BLS. It's possible to earn a certificate or an associate's degree. Some schools require 30 hours of class a week, and some schools will require you to complete a certain number of procedures before you graduate.
Requirements for Braider-Specific Training
Some states will not require you to complete full cosmetology training in order to be licensed, but will require you to undergo braider-specific training. The South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation requires you to successfully complete a six-hour, board-approved training course, take an exam and register as a hair braider (www.llr.state.sc.us). According to the Virginia Board of Barbers and Cosmetology, you may be eligible to take the Virginia licensing exam if you've completed a formal hair braiding training through a cosmetology or public school program, even if your training took place in another state exam (www.dpor.virgina.gov). You may be exempt from the exam in Virginia, if you have enough proven experience or a hair braiding license from another jurisdiction.
In 2010, NBC Chicago reported that as of January 1, 2011, if you're new to hair braiding, Illinois requires you to take 300 hours of classes on braiding techniques and sanitation or, if you've been braiding for more than two years, to prove your expertise and pay a registration fee (www.nbcchicago.com). In general, states with braider-specific training laws will require you to take less than 1,000 hours worth of training in your field and may require an exam or registration fee.
Stay Up-to-Date on Your State's Licensure Laws
Since 2000, braiding laws have changed in Mississippi and Illinois. As of 2010, the National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology (NIC) reported that only three states and districts in the U.S. - Ohio, Virginia and Washington, D.C. - require braiders to take the NIC's written cosmetology test (www.nictesting.org). So keep an eye on your state's hair braiding licensure requirements - they may be changing soon.
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