Woman with hair in a horizontal French braid

Hair Braiding License Requirements

Hair Braiding > Licensing


Getting braids has long been a rite of passage for little girls and sometimes boys. Historically, it was an informal affair conducted in living rooms, kitchens, and improvised parlors.

However, to braid hair professionally today, you might need a license. Like cosmetology and related fields, the licensing process for hair braiders varies from state to state, and it can be frustrating and confusing to figure out what is required. This page is designed to clear things up.

Do You Need a License to Braid Hair?

You might need a license depending on where you want to work. Some states require specific licenses for hair braiders, while a more informal registration process is all that's needed in others. In some states you'll have to earn a cosmetology license. Others don't require a license at all.

Braiding was a heavily-regulated industry until fairly recently, but restrictions are loosening—in part because of political and cultural concerns. Although braiding is certainly not exclusive to any one race or ethnicity, African-Americans have long dominated the trade, with the art of braiding being passed down from mother to daughter.

Many business groups, community organizations, and civil rights advocates argued that licensing and other regulations were costly, prohibitive, and punitive to minority communities. In addition, they felt that having such regulations did not contribute to public health and safety. In response, many states are relaxing their requirements or dropping them altogether.

Here's a look at the requirements in all 50 states as of 2016, the last year for which data was available.

State License Training Hours
Alabama Hair braiding license 210
Alaska Cosmetology license 1,650
Arizona Not required Not required
Arkansas Not required Not required
California Not required Not required
Colorado Not required Not required
Connecticut Not required Not required
Delaware Not required Not required
District of Columbia Hair braiding license 100
Florida Hair braiding license 16
Georgia Not required Not required
Hawaii Cosmetology license 1,250
Idaho Cosmetology license 2,000
Illinois Hair braiding license 300
Indiana Cosmetology license 1,500
Iowa Registration Not required
Kansas Not required Not required
Kentucky Not required Not required
Louisiana Hair braiding license 500
Maine Not required Not required
Maryland Not required Not required
Massachusetts Cosmetology license 1,000
Michigan Not required Not required
Minnesota* Hair braiding license 30
Mississippi Registration Not required
Missouri Cosmetology license 1,220
Montana Cosmetology license 2,000
Nebraska Not required Not required
Nevada Hair braiding license 250
New Hampshire Cosmetology license 1,500
New Jersey Cosmetology license 1,200
New Mexico Cosmetology license 1,600
New York Hair braiding license 300
North Carolina Hair braiding license 300
North Dakota Cosmetology license 1,800
Ohio Hair braiding license 450
Oklahoma Hair braiding license 600
Oregon Hair braiding license Complete online module and exam
Pennsylvania Hair braiding license 300
Rhode Island Cosmetology license 1,500
South Carolina Hair braiding license 6
South Dakota Cosmetology license 2,100
Tennessee Hair braiding license 300
Texas Not required Not required
Utah Not required Not required
Vermont Cosmetology license 1,500
Virginia Not required Not required
Washington Not required Not required
West Virginia Not required Not required
Wisconsin Cosmetology license 1,550
Wyoming Cosmetology license 1,000
*Minnesota Cosmetology Board claims to have no enforcement authority over this braiding license

These are the basic requirements for each:

  • Cosmetology license: To earn a cosmetology license you need to complete a training program that satisfies your state's licensing requirements. These requirements generally stipulate the number of training hours—typically between 1,400 and 1,600 hours—and the required testing.
  • Hair braiding license: A hair-braiding license requires far fewer training hours. Texas, for example, requires 35 hours.
  • Registration: Some states simply require braiding professionals to register with their state board, which often requires a fee.

Because requirements are changing, it is important that you check with your state board so you know what you have to do to work in your state legally.

Continuing Education

Some states require continuing education as a term of license renewal. Whether it's required to maintain your license, however, you should always keep learning. No matter how talented you are, you have to stay up to date on emerging trends, styles, and techniques to succeed.

A simple internet search of “hair braiding events” reveals countless opportunities to attend classes, workshops, contests, and seminars, both in-person and online—many of which are free. You might also consider expanding your skills and knowledge into other areas of cosmetology to add new services to your list of offerings.

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
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