What States Require a License to Braid Hair? [Answered!]

As of August 2023, you will need a license for braiding hair in Pennsylvania, New York, Illinois, Minnesota, and DC. However, if you live in Texas, California, Florida, Arizona, and Massachusetts then you will not need any license. The legality of braiding your hair depends on the state you’re in. 

That’s not all. The article covers more states. Keep reading to learn about them all.

Key Takeaways

  • License is required in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New York, Illinois, Minnesota, and Washington DC
  • License is not required in Florida, Arizona, Tennessee, Texas, California, Massachusetts, and Michigan. 

What States Require a License to Braid Hair?

Different states have different laws regarding braiding hair licenses. Here’s a quick rundown.

States License Required or Not
Pennsylvania Required 
Florida Not required 
North Carolina Required 
New York Required 
Arizona Not required 
Illinois Required 
Minnesota Required 
Tennessee Not required 
Texas Not required 
California Not required 
Massachusetts Not required 
Michigan Not required 

However, if you live in Washington D.C., you will also require a license for braiding hair. The demand for a hair braiding license has sparked controversy, prompting numerous practitioners nationwide to take legal action against their state’s licensure boards. 

Plaintiffs in these lawsuits, which seek to gain the freedom to practice hair braiding without a cosmetology license, have often been successful. Institute for Justice is a prime example. With their efforts, only a few states require braiders to obtain a full cosmetology license, compared to 29 in 2005.

Consequently, these legal victories have triggered state-level regulatory reforms that favor individuals aspiring to establish careers in the field of natural hair braiding. You will learn which states require braiding licenses in this section. 

Do You Need a License to Braid Hair in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, you need a license to work as a hair braider. Natural hair braiders in Pennsylvania are facing fines and business closures due to a state requirement for a costly license. 

This mandate demands braiders, who have inherited their craft across generations, to obtain a license that incurs significant costs, both monetarily and in terms of time investment. The licensing process involves extensive hours of schooling.

Do You Need a License to Braid Hair in Florida

Florida does not require a hair braiding license. As of July 1, 2020, the necessity for licenses to engage in hair braiding has been eliminated in Florida. Prior to this date, individuals were mandated to have a state license  to engage in hair braiding. 

This transformation was facilitated by the enactment of House Bill 1193 during the 2020 Regular Session of the Florida Legislature, effectively abolishing the licensure requisites for hair braiding.

Do You Need a License to Braid Hair
 Source: hairqueenie

Do You Need a License to Braid Hair in North Carolina

In order to legally practice as a hair braider in North Carolina, you must have a valid license. North Carolina Board of Cosmetic Art Examiners grants these licenses. 

As part of the licensing procedure, aspiring hair braiders are mandated to successfully complete a comprehensive hair braiding course. That course encompasses a minimum of 300 hours of instructional training. 

North Carolina maintains a rigorous licensing process for hair braiders because of this stringent requirement.  So, if you wanna learn how to infinity braid or how to braid a ponytail professionally, you need to attend cosmetology schools.

Do You Need a License to Braid Hair in NY

The state of New York requires a valid license for hair braiding to be legal. These licenses are issued by the New York State Division of Licensing Services. Hair braiders must complete a dedicated braiding course as part of the licensure process.

The course requires 300 hours of instruction. Applicants must complete a comprehensive 300-hour training program from an accredited institution, followed by written and practical examinations.

Once these steps are successfully completed, applicants can proceed to submit a $40 application fee before commencing their braiding profession.

Do You Need a License to Braid Hair in Arizona

In Arizona, there is no separate or specialized license required for hair braiding. The Arizona Board of Cosmetology oversees the licensing of hair braiders.

In April 2004, the state legislature passed a law exempting braiders from the cosmetology licensing scheme enforced by the Arizona Board of Cosmetology. Previously, hair braiders were compelled to obtain a costly and extensive cosmetology license, despite the practice not being covered in the curriculum. 

A civil rights lawsuit was filed on Essence’s behalf by the Institute for Justice Arizona Chapter, leading to legislative action. With the new law, Essence opened her own braiding studio, Rare Essence Braiding Studio, in Phoenix.

It is highly recommended to contact the Arizona Board of Cosmetology directly for exact and up-to-date information regarding licensing prerequisites for hair braiding in Arizona.

Do You Need a License to Braid Hair in Illinois

In Illinois, possessing a license is essential to legally engage in hair braiding. Oversight of hair braiding licensing falls under the jurisdiction of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. 

Prospective hair braiders must complete at least 300 hours of the course to qualify for a license, with the course needing state approval. To obtain a license, individuals must pass a written and practical exam after completing training.

Do You Need a License to Braid Hair in Minnesota?

In Minnesota, obtaining a license is a prerequisite for lawful practice as a hair braider. The licensing process is overseen by the Minnesota Board of Cosmetology Examiners. 

Hair braiders are required to complete a 30-hour state-approved course covering topics such as sanitation, hygiene, and safety to qualify for licensure. Following the course, aspirants are required to pass a written examination to secure their license.

Do You Need a License to Braid Hair in Tennessee?

At present, a license is not required to braid hair in Tennessee. But before 2019, the license used to be required for braiding hair. Starting in 2019, a bill was passed with the intention of discontinuing the license obligation for hair braiding. 

Nevertheless, the status of the full implementation of this bill or the presence of any new licensing criteria remains uncertain.

Before the enactment of this bill, hair braiders in Tennessee were mandated to secure a license. This necessitated the completion of 300 hours of education and training. 

Alternatively, hair braiders had the option to obtain a limited license, which solely demanded 16 hours of health and hygiene training, offered in-person or online. This limited license required a biennial registration fee of $30.

Do You Need a License to Braid Hair in Washington DC?

In Washington, D.C., acquiring a license is essential for lawful practice as a hair braider. Cosmetology licenses regulate hair braiding. Therefore the practice of hair braiding requires a cosmetology license. 

Successful completion of a comprehensive cosmetology program is required to obtain a cosmetology license. That encompasses hair braiding, along with the requirement of passing both written and practical examinations.

Do You Need a License to Braid Hair in Texas

Natural hair braiding is no longer required in Texas as of June 8, 2015. But a 35-hour training course is requisite to secure a license for hair braiding.

This allows individuals to legally practice hair braiding without formal licensing or cosmetology school attendance. 

However, it is noteworthy that hair braiding with chemicals and adhesives still necessitates a hair weaving specialty license.

hair dresser Braiding Hair
          Source: theadvocate

Do You Need a License to Braid Hair in California 

A license is not mandatory for lawful hair braiding in California. To offer hair braiding services in the state, a cosmetology license or specialized hair license is no longer required.

In other words, your training is designed to build your skills and set you up for success in this industry, not to prepare you for a licensing test. Cosmetology and hairdressing are regulated by the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology. They have specifically excluded hair braiding from the licensing requirements for other careers.

Do You Need a License to Braid Hair in Massachusetts

No license is required in Massachusetts. The landscape of hair braiding licensing has undergone recent revisions. A bonding bill was enacted by the governor in January 2021, effectively exempting natural hair braiders from occupational licensing. 

Natural hair braiders are no longer required to obtain a cosmetology or specialized hair license in order to provide these services.

Do You Need a License to Braid Hair in Michigan

In Michigan, individuals can legally engage in hair braiding without the need for a license. Notably, the state employs a distinct licensing procedure for both hair braiders and natural hair culturists. 

However, this is a voluntary program. You might consider pursuing this license if it would benefit your career.

Do You Need a License to Braid Hair in Idaho?

No license is required to braid hair in Idaho. Idaho will no longer criminalize hair braiding without a license. Hair braiding without a license was previously a misdemeanor punishable by up to $1,000 in fines.

Thanks to House Bill 762, you now have complete freedom over braiding hair. No fine, no hassle. So happy braiding!

Is It Illegal to Braid Hair Without a License? 

State laws vary regarding the legality of hair braiding without a license. You must obtain a license if your state requires one for hair braiding. Without that, it would be illegal to work as a hair braider.

Cosmetology Licensing requirements differ across states, with some necessitating a license for hair braiding and others not imposing this requirement.

Nevertheless, it is crucial to consult the applicable state laws and regulations to ascertain whether a license is obligatory for hair braiding.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Braiding in Cosmetology?

In braiding, hair is twisted, pulled, shaped, and braided into many small braids. The process is particularly popular among African Americans and immigrants from Africa. Prior to hair braiding being taught in cosmetology school, most hair braiders were of this distinctive group.

Can You Go to an Interview with Braids?

You can attend an interview with braids. But you need to make sure to arrange them tidily and suitably according to your job role. For instance, if you’re employed in a bank, opting for more natural-colored braids is advisable, rather than vibrant shades like blue or white.

Will My Hair Grow If I Braid It?

No, braiding hair does not accelerate the pace of growth. Your hair’s growth rate is primarily governed by genetic factors, with elements such as diet and stress impacting thinning and breakage. So, your chosen hairstyle does not influence the rate at which your hair grows.


Hopefully, you’ve got a clear vision regarding your query about what states require a license to braid hair.  

Whichever state you live in, you should consider the rules in order to provide hair braiding service. For more information, contact the relevant authority if you are still confused. 

Katharyn Riedel

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