Stylist giving a woman Twist braids

Hair Braiding Careers

Hair Braiding > Careers

 

African societies built statues of people with elaborately braided hair at least 2,500 years ago. Since then, hair braiding has transformed from a cultural practice into a major industry. You can become part of this rich tradition by learning to be a professional hair braider.

Hair Braider Job Description

Hair braiding is an intricate process that lets you bring your personal artistry into play. There are numerous types of hair braiding techniques that you might perform, including weaving in hair extensions and adding ornaments such as beads. The information below gives you an idea of what some of these styles look like—but there are many more. Keep in mind, too, that these styles are general categories; experienced hair braiders will combine styles or add their own touch.

Techniques of hair braiding also include processes such as applying smoothing serums and other products, dipping the ends into very hot water, using thread to make kinky curls, and using flexi-rods to curl braids.

Hair braiding can be a lengthy process, ranging from several hours to seven hours for one client. Braiding styles can be short-term or long-term—they last anywhere from two weeks to three months, as long as the client takes care of them.

As a hair braider you will also perform many of the duties that all stylists undertake:

  • Schedule appointments
  • Receive clients
  • Maintain a well-organized, clean, and sanitary workspace
  • Counsel your clients, guiding them through their options based on factors such as hair type, personal taste, and budget

Following are some common types of braid styles.

Cornrows

  • Hair is braided close to the scalp using an underhand, upward motion
  • Rows may be straight or geometrical

Cornrows

Box Braids

  • Thick, chunky braids that are usually created by dividing small squared-off parts, or boxes
  • Hair extensions are often braided in to add thickness

Box Braids

Micro Braids

  • Small, delicate braids that are braided tightly into the hair
  • May be done by "crocheting" in micro-braided hair extensions

Micro Braids

Twists (Havana)

  • Hair is divided into two parts (instead of three as with most braids)
  • Each section is twisted first, then the two sections are twisted together

Twists

Fishtail Braids

  • Weaving hair technique
  • Hair is separated into two sections and then one section is inserted into the other section
  • Can be done as a French braid by starting at the top of the crown

Fishtail Braid

Careers in Hair Braiding

There are a few different ways to turn your hair braiding talent into a career. You can work as a specialist in a salon, open your own business, or even pass your knowledge on to the next generation by teaching braiding.

Work in a Salon

This is a good place to start your career because it puts you in an established business surrounded by experienced professionals. It might be a full-service salon or a salon dedicated exclusively to hair braiding. Either way, a job in a salon is probably the best and fastest way to build an all-important list of regular clientele.

In some salons you will rent out your own chair. In others you might get paid by the client. Still others will provide either a salary or hourly compensation.

Start Your Own Business

Once you have a following, you can consider branching out on your own. That might mean opening a physical shop with a storefront or a dedicated space in your home. You can also offer your services on a freelance basis and travel to people’s homes, parties, weddings, or any other occasion that requires people to look their best.

Owning a business involves a lot more than hair braiding. You will need to set up your business, order supplies, set up appointments, and make sure to comply with the regulations in your state.

Become a Teacher

You might choose to teach at a cosmetology school in a program that focuses on braiding or at live events and seminars. There are even schools you can attend to learn how to become a teacher.

To become a teacher you should have a fair degree of experience under your belt and be knowledgeable of a number of techniques.

Hair Braider Salary

The truth is, it’s hard to gauge how much money you can expect to make as a hair braider. The industry is loosely organized, and robust statistics are hard to come by. ZipRecruiter, for example, reports an average salary of $34,713 as of October 2019. Indeed, on the other hand, says the average is $38.56 an hour, or $79,900 a year for full-time professionals. This figure may be skewed by the inclusion of a nationwide app-based company called Mobile Styles, which on average pays $45 an hour.

In practice, salons often pay by the day or by the client. If you own a salon, your salary is linked to factors like your price structure, staffing, and how many hours and days you’re open for business.

Pricing is often based on factors like the length and thickness of both natural hair and extensions, damage to the hair, and the skill and time required to perform the styling. You might charge $30 to $50 for children’s braids or for some quick, easy short-term styles, while elaborate or semi-permanent braids could cost several hundred dollars.

Hair Braider Career Outlook

Here, too, data is scant and incomplete. The information that does exist for job growth and career outlook in the braiding industry, however, is encouraging. In the first place, braiding is trending. Celebrities like Grammy-nominated singer Ledisi—whose waist-length braids, which harkened back to Janet Jackson in 1993, were the talk of the 2018 BET Awards—are bringing braiding back to the forefront of popular culture. New trends like whip braids are emerging as must-have styles in 2020.

Historically a driver of global style and fashion, Paris is at the cutting edge again, with new salons and shops dedicated to ethnic and natural hair braiding. But you don’t have to cross an ocean to get in on the action. According to Glassdoor, the following metropolitan regions have the most hair braiding jobs:

  • Atlanta, GA 
  • Winter Park, FL
  • New York, NY
  • Brooklyn, NY
  • Smyrna, GA
  • Houston, TX
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Atlantic City, NJ
  • Charlotte, NC
  • Los Angeles, CA
Career Outlook
Info based on National Averages. Enter zip and program for more exact details.
Hours-required: 1600 Education and hands-on training
Licence Renewal Hours: 1000 Hands-on training
Certification Needed: Cosmetology
State Board Contact:E: barbercosmo@dca.ca.gov P: 1.800.952.5210
Average Salary: $28,770 Annually
Job Outlook: 20% increase Between 2012 - 2022
 
What do you love most about beauty school?
The connections. All of the girls are so close, they are great. The teachers are awesome and have so many connections and will help you get your career started.
How do you like beauty school?
I love it, it’s a lot of fun! It makes it easier when it’s something you are passionate about. It’s so fun to go to school and always trying new things. They give you plenty time to do you homework at school too!
Can you describe a typical day?

Arrive at 8am and prep for appointments starting at 8:45.

You could have 4-5 appointments in one day doing facials, makeup, skin treatments, waxing, brows, lash tinting. My favorite part is if you don’t have appointments you can do treatments on each other! We give each other facials, makeup and the nail girls do our nails, etc! It’s so fun and we are never bored!

What’s it like juggling work and school?

I work two jobs. It can be busy but I map out the week and it keeps me out of trouble.

What would you tell someone thinking about enrolling?

Just do it! I was pretty nervous at first. I doubted myself b/c I have never been in a program I felt I could succeed. The support and encouragement of the other ladies in the class and seeing how intelligent the teachers were eased my worries. It’s a fun experience! There weren’t “know it all’s” in the class. Everyone is eager to learn and help each other.

Do you feel confident getting a job after school?

Yes! I feel confident and qualified. The teachers are great and positive. They want to set up you for success.

What inspires you?

Instagram. I could scroll all day long. I love art, makeup, clothes, house decor. I love going to Sephora and seeing all the makeup and think about the possible ways to do different things.

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