How Can I Get a Hair Braiding License?

Licensing requirements vary by state for individuals who want careers as hair braiders or natural hair stylists. 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.

Do I Need a License to Braid Hair?

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. In Mississippi, you have to pass a test and register with the state's Department of Health. 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.

Most postsecondary cosmetology programs take about nine months to complete, according to the BLS. Some schools require 30 hours of class per 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 completing a six-hour, board-approved training course, passing an exam and registering as a hair braider. According to the Virginia Board of Barbers and Cosmetology, you may be eligible to take the Virginia licensing exam if you've completed formal hair braiding training through a cosmetology or public school program, even if your training took place in another state. You may be exempt from the exam in Virginia if you have enough proven experience or a hair braiding license from another jurisdiction.

Illinois requires new braiders to take 300 hours of classes on braiding techniques and sanitation; if you've been braiding for more than two years, the state requires you to prove your expertise and pay a registration fee. In general, states with braider-specific training laws will require less than 1,000 hours of training in the 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. In 2013, California was considering changes as well. As of 2010, the National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology (NIC) reported that only three states and districts - Ohio, Virginia and Washington, D.C. - require braiders to take the NIC's written cosmetology test. Keep an eye on your state's hair braiding licensure requirements - they may be changing.

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