How to Become a Hair Braider

8 minutes • 7 June 2021

Opportunities for skilled hair braiders continue to grow in the United States. People will pay good money for an expert hair braiding that enhances their appearance and makes them feel great about themselves. With training and certification, you’ll be on your way to a rewarding career as a hair braider, whether you focus exclusively on this art or add your new skill to the repertoire of offerings at your salon or spa.

Woman with braided hair modeling

Braiding is a creative art. One of the great satisfactions of this career is being able to express your creativity while thrilling clients with their appearance, which is the direct result of your work.

While training you’ll learn to work with the unique hair texture of African-Americans, as they make up the majority of hair braiding clients. During your training, you’ll want to work with as many different hair lengths and textures as possible. This develops your fine motor skills. Hair braiding is an intricate art that requires careful work. You’ll also want to be comfortable with standing for a prolonged period of time because it can take several hours to complete new braids for an entire head of hair. Communication skills are also important so you can understand and fulfill the customer’s wishes. Keeping clients happy is the key to repeat business and referrals.

Some states require hair braiders to be licensed. To qualify for a license, you’ll need to complete a state-approved cosmetology program. A high school diploma or equivalent is also required by many employers.

Ready to unleash the artist inside you? Read on to learn how you can become a hair braider and join this growing field.

In this article you’ll learn:

  • How much money you can make as a hair braider
  • The required training and certifications
  • Professional groups to join
  • Employment opportunities for hair braiders
  • Finding clients
  • Plus helpful tips for new hair braiders
Woman with braided hair and flower in hair

How much money can you make?

Hair braiders make good money. Entry-level salaries hover around $27,000 annually, but with experience, skill and a sterling reputation your income can grow quickly. A hair braiding session performed by an experienced professional can cost anywhere from $100 to $300 depending on the look the client desires. Even if you work with only two clients a day you can see this is an opportunity to make a nice income.

This is also a growth industry. Employment of hairstylists, a group that includes hair braiders, is projected to grow 8 percent through 2028, faster than the average for all occupations. Population growth will lead to greater demand for hair care services, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Training and Certification

Across the United States, regulations governing hair braiders vary widely. These states do not require a license to practice hair braiding: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.

Among those that do require a license, the particular requirements vary from state to state. Your best bet is to contact your state cosmetology board to determine what requirements apply to you.

What you’ll learn in a quality training program:

  • Individual braiding with and without extensions
  • No-knot cornrows
  • Faux locs
  • Working with wigs
  • Crocheting and yarn braids
  • Twist extensions
Hair braider's client showing off new look

While training you’ll study more than braiding styles and techniques. You’ll also learn the rules and regulations about sanitation and disease transmission, as well as hair types, human biology as it relates to the scalp and hair, and common disorders that can affect the hair. Look for a program that also includes basic business training so you can learn how to open your own beauty shop, market your services, consult with clients and maintain scheduling.

The cost of these programs tends to be all over the place. An online course in hair braiding might cost under $100. A complete 8-week course in-person runs about $3,000. A full cosmetology program will be more than $10,000. Your personal circumstances and career goals will dictate the best training option for you. Certification as a hair braider can lead to employment in a spa or beauty salon, where you can observe other specialists. At some point you might then decide to pursue a full training program in cosmetology.

You can explore training programs here.

Professional Groups to Join

The Professional Association for the Beauty Industry is one of the largest and most respected professional groups you can join as a hair braider. With membership you’ll be able to network with thousands of professionals in your field, pursue continuing education and keep up with trends and new hair braiding techniques.  Several membership levels are available, from student to business owner. Visit their website for current pricing.

Woman modeling intricately braided hair

Associated Hair Professionals is another worthwhile group to consider. Members have access to business support resources and affordable liability insurance coverage.

You can also find groups to join on social media. Facebook is home to many groups devoted to the hair braiding profession. You can run a simple search on Facebook to find these groups and join one or more.

Employment

Stop by local spas and beauty salons with copies of your hair braiding certification, resume (and license, if applicable in your state). This is a great way to introduce yourself to potential employers. Even if there are no immediate openings, many employers will appreciate the initiative and confidence it takes just to walk through the door and promote yourself. This instantly sets you apart from the many people who simply email their resumes and wait by the phone.

Online searches on sites such as Indeed and ZipRecruiter will also yield job listings. Keep in mind that if you move to another state you’ll need to know the requirements and regulations for hair braiders where you plan to live. This is why it’s important to complete a good training program in hair braiding – you’ll be better prepared to pass a licensing exam if you end up moving some day to a state that requires a license to offer these services.

Also use the power of your professional memberships to find jobs. Network with other members. Ask them about any opportunities they might know about in their area. Other hair braiders will usually be the first to know about jobs coming open in the shops where they work. You might learn about a job opening before it’s advertised.

Finding Clients

Business cards and a basic website should be the foundation of your marketing toolkit. The website doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive, just attractively designed, with photos of your work, location and contact information. No need to include your pricing unless you decide to promote a special.

In addition to your business website, create an Instagram account to showcase your services. The idea is to post plenty of “before” and “after” photos with hashtags so that people looking for hair braiding can find you. Instagram is the #1 online venue for beauty professionals to display their work. That said, be sure to get written permission from your clients before you post images of their faces. You can download and print free photo release forms here.

Woman modeling a hair braider's work

Other strategies for attracting new business:

  • Give a one-time discount to new customers.
  • Create a referral program with discounts for returning customers who bring new clients to you.
  • Ask clients to review your services online. According to a recent survey, 90% of people say their buying decisions are influenced by positive online reviews.
  • Ask all new clients to complete a simple form about their interest in your sugaring services. Get their contact information on the form. This lets you follow up with clients and increase repeat business.

Good to know:

Unlike many cosmetology trades, hair braiding does not require a lot of expensive equipment, tools and supplies. All you really need is a comb, hair ties and clips, pomade or oil for the scalp and your own creativity. That’s it. Now you’re in business.

Hair braiding can also open new doors. Braiding in a salon gives you a chance to see first-hand other beauty services being performed by experts. You may decide to expand your skill set after learning from hairstylists, manicurists and other specialists working in your salon. This only increases your value as an employee while expanding your earnings potential.

If you enjoyed this article, check out some other PocketSuite.io content that can help you grow your career as a hair braider. Here’s a great place to start. You’ll also love our guide on how to generate leads for service businesses.PocketSuite has thousands of business owners who all started where you are right now. Our community is always happy to help you ramp up, grow your client base, and achieve your income goals, both within the PocketSuite app and as part of our exclusive Facebook Community Group. PocketSuite’s vision is for any professional to be able to work for themselves and make a great living. It starts here. It starts with you. It starts today. Let’s get started, download PocketSuite now! Feel free to reach out with any questions (we’d love to hear from you)! Text us @ (415) 841-2300.

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