Let’s say you’re a solo-preneur hairdresser out to build your business. You may be asking yourself if you need to get a license. Or let’s say you own a salon and still haven’t been licensed to do hair in your state. You may we worried about the risks associated with operating without official state approval. You may even take pride in operating under the table, believing that your life is easier when you only accept cash, Paypal or Venmo. (or any of the other plethora of money-sending apps).
There are some issues with this, however:
1. Legal risks
2. Hidden expenses
3. Missed “money making” partnerships
If you are licensed and you haven’t realized all of the benefits of being “legit”, we’ll help you connect those dots.
First, we’ll tackle why you should get your cosmetology license as a small business owner that does hair.
Then we’ll discuss the practical steps that you can take to get your license.
But first, we’ll talk about why this is important.
In this article, we’ll absolutely answer that question, so you can rest easy on your silk pillow (so you don’t mess up your beautiful hairdo!)
WHY YOU SHOULD GET YOUR COSMETOLOGY LICENSE AS A HAIRDRESSER
Globally beauty is a $382 billion a year industry and it keeps growing at an insane rate.
Hairdressers are a huge part of this industry primarily because of how popular these services are.
TWO CATEGORIES OF HAIRDRESSERS
There are several subcategories of hairdressers – in this article, we’ll make the distinction by breaking up the industry into two main parts – those that do braiding/weaves and those that use chemicals.
The main reason we’re separating folks into these two categories is because those doing hair braiding/weaves typically don’t need a license. On the other hand, those using chemicals (to do perms, for example) have to get a license to operate legally.
If you are doing braiding or weaves, you don’t need a license because there are typically no chemicals used.
On the other hand, if you’re using harsh chemicals (or even some eco-friendly alternatives) to deliver services like coloring, dying, and some forms of curling and straightening, you are most certainly a candidate for getting your cosmetology license and going all the way with your salon services.
Speaking of harsh chemicals, the Women’s Voices Organization created a very useful list of chemicals to avoid when you’re working with clients, as well as chemicals to be wary of.
If I were you, I would pay close attention to this list and try to avoid as much contact with these chemicals as possible!
At the very least, wear eye and mouth protection to limit your exposure when dealing with these harsh substances.
But I digress… let’s discuss the specific reasons why getting your cosmetology license is especially important for hairdressers.
The first is the legal ramifications of not being licensed.
In just one year, the Better Business Bureau received more than 2,400 complaints about hair stylists about everything, “from bad cuts to severe scalp burns.”
Apparently, the possibility of chemical burns is a serious and ever-present threat when subjecting yourself to an unlicensed hairdresser.
Not only that, but under-the-table salons use super-glue instead of proper bonding solution to apply hair extensions, further damaging their clients’ hair and their reputation as well.
Here’s what Anthony Civitano of the Hair Dresser Institute had to say about unlicensed cosmetologists, specifically hairdressers:
“When you get into chemical work, or your working with sheers, sharp instruments around somebody else’s body, it’s really very important that you have the proper training and dexterity.
“Unlicensed salons or solo-preneur hairdressers can easily get a $500 citation for operating under the table – how’s that for motivation to get licensed!
If you are unlicensed, you’re missing out on opportunities to work with payment providers that can help you with online booking, accepting credit cards, and paying your salon team (if you have a salon).
Most payment providers will want to see proof that you are operating with a license, as this protects them from potential chargebacks from unhappy clients with damaged hair who are not happy campers.
You may also be turned away for emergency funding (should your business require it) in the event of a downturn, an economic crash, or another calamity that may leave you penniless and force you to close up shop and run to the safe harbor of a full time day job.
Wouldn’t that be a shame! If you need money for your business and your passion, it’s always good to have options in case you need to use them.
So another reason for getting licensed is that it opens up your business to a whole new world where you can accept credit cards, put an online booking form on your Instagram, and other perks.
Additionally, typical costs of hairstyling services for licensed versus unlicensed pros range from 3-4 times, so you’re leveling your business up to another tier of additional income by getting licensed.
There are many professional organizations, such as the Professional Beauty Association (or PBA for short), that require you to be licensed in order to join. It is an exclusive group that also gives you access to perks and business opportunities.
One of the business opportunities that is very popular at the moment is becoming a hair product reseller.
The way this works is, you receive the product and get a white-labeled, personalized website built for you. All you need to do is find the clients and sell them the products, and you get a generous cut of the profits.
However, being unlicensed prevents you from taking advantage of opportunities like this.
So with no license, there’s less income for your business and less money in your pocket at the end of the day.
When you get your license, you’re opening up your business to new types of clients and diversifying your income (such as being a product reseller) so that you can grow your bottom line and build on your current success.
HOW TO GET LICENSED AS A HAIRDRESSER
Finally, we arrive at the practical steps that you can follow to get this accomplished and start to sleep better at night.
The first step would be to check with your state licensing board as every state is different.
Here are the education, exam, and other requirements necessary to get licensed, according to Study.com:
Cosmetology training program at a school or through an apprenticeship.
Written tests on theory and procedures, practical demonstrations of skills in eight areas and written tests on state regulations.
Minimum age requirement, HIV/AIDS training (specifics vary by state).
The next step is to find a cosmetology school that offers programs for hairdressers.
Here are some frequently asked questions that explain how to find a school and goes into detail on the requirements and process for getting licensed.
You can also find more information here on a state-by-state basis.
Once you’ve completed school and graduated (many of these you can do online, although the exam may be in person), you can go to your state licensing website to apply for a license.
Here’s what California’s Board of Barbering and Cosmetology website looks like (you would go here to apply for your license if you lived in California, but like I said it varies by state, so find your state’s website through Google):
In this example, you would click on ‘Breeze’ on the bottom left and then follow the prompts to get your license.
And there you have it – the main reasons you should get your license, as well as how to do it.
I hope this article has clarified why you should get your cosmetology license as a hairdresser.
Now go out there and make the world beautiful, one hairstyle at a time!
If you haven’t already, you can try PocketSuite for free to manage your hairdressing clients, accept deposits and payments online, process credit cards in person using their built in credit card scanner, manage your bookings online and from Instagram & Facebook, sell products, and practically everything else you’d want to do in your business. So you can do your job “making your clients deliriously happy” – worry free! 🙂
Like this article? You’ll love our guide on how to generate leads for service businesses in 2022, and of course our Frustrations with Square article!