Hair Braiding and Natural Hair School

Braiding, the art of interweaving three or more strands of hair into different designs, goes back thousands of years with deep roots in Black art and culture. Braiding goes beyond being beautiful, with many types of braids protecting natural hair.

In many parts of the U.S., hair braiding as a distinct profession with its own training and licensing needs has been underrecognized, even though hair braiding services have long been performed in communities. Often, hair braiding as a beauty discipline has been regulated under the cosmetology umbrella. Natural hair styling is sometimes also part of braiding training (or vice versa). However, consumer demand for the need of the specialized skills of hair braiders has led this to become a more-recognized profession in its own right.

Skip to popular topics on this page: What Does a Hair Braider Do? | How to Become a Hair Braider | Choosing a Hair Braiding School | Getting Your Hair Braider or Natural Hair License | Natural Hair and Braiding Salary and Job Growth | Hair Braiding Schools by State| Natural Hair and Braiding Resources and Articles

If you're interested in becoming a hair braider or natural hair stylist, it's important to understand what you must do to be legally allowed to perform natural hair and braiding services where you live.

Read on to find out about natural hair styling and braiding schools, salaries, and more.

Learn More About Hair Braiding

What Does a Hair Braider Do?

Licensed hair braiders provide high-quality, long-lasting braids that look great and protect the hair. They offer services like:

  • Single plaits
  • Extended braids
  • Cornrows
  • Box braids
  • Ghana braids
  • Senegalese twists

What Does a Natural Hair Stylist Do?

In addition to braiding, natural hair stylists offer a wide range of treatments like:

  • Shampooing
  • Dressing
  • Twisting
  • Wrapping
  • Weaving
  • Extending
  • Locking

How to Become a Hair Braider or Natural Hair Stylist

Where you live has a lot to do with becoming a hair braider or natural hair stylist. Some states issue hair braiding or natural hair licenses. Others require a cosmetology license with relevant training. Many don't mandate specialized training—or any training at all.

As of 2023, only four states still require braiders to obtain a full cosmetology license, down from 29 in 2005. They are:

  • Hawaii
  • Montana
  • New Mexico
  • Wyoming

The following places require separate certifications for braiding and natural hair:

"Zero hours" typically means you must register with the state to practice but don't need to get braiding or natural hair training.

The remaining 32 states don't require any specialized training to become a braider or natural hair stylist as of 2023.

Training requirements for hair braiding may shift in the coming years, with social movements and legislation such as the CROWN Act empowering people to embrace their natural hair.

What Should You Learn in Natural Hair or Hair Braiding School?

Though the exact course content may vary from place to place, natural hair styling and braiding schools cover similar topics. You should learn to perform techniques and hairstyles specific to Black hair as well as about theory and science.

Techniques and Hairstyles

  • Box braids
  • Cornrows
  • Crochet braids
  • Extensions
  • Individual braids
  • Locs
  • Twists
  • Wigs and weaves
  • Yarn braids

Theoretical Study

  • Natural hair history
  • Business and salon management
  • Marketing and customer service
  • State rules and regulations
  • Human biology
  • Safety and sanitization
  • Common scalp diseases and disorders

sponsored content, school availability varies by location


sponsored content, school availability varies by location


sponsored content, school availability varies by location


sponsored content, school availability varies by location


sponsored content, school availability varies by location


sponsored content, school availability varies by location

School Enrollment Requirements

Requirements vary by program, school, and state. But, to work in any beauty field, you generally have to be at least 16 years old and have a high school diploma or GED. In addition, some states might need a criminal background check or physical exam.

School Costs

Natural hair or braiding school costs vary depending on length, type, and location.

Online courses tend to be the lowest priced, with some costing less than $200 to complete. But many of these courses alone don't let you work in states where having a natural hair or braiding license is mandatory. If you're in a state that doesn't need any official training, this could be a great option.

At the other end of the spectrum, some states need a full cosmetology license to work in the hair industry. The cost of this can run up to tens of thousands of dollars. You can reduce school costs by getting scholarships.

How Long Does Hair Braiding or Natural Hair School Take?

Natural hair styling and braiding courses vary in length. Specialist programs may take a few weeks to complete, while cosmetology programs take several months. Continuing education classes, which can last a few hours or days, may let you offer these services or expand upon your skills after you've earned another license.

Can I Apprentice as a Hair Braider or Natural Hair Stylist?

Natural hair and braiding apprenticeships exist, but not necessarily in the traditional sense. If you don't need formal training, many learn by working with friends or family in their salons or homes. In places that require training, you may only be able to apprentice if the state mandates a cosmetology license.

Choosing a Hair Braiding School or Natural Hair School

With so many options, picking the right braiding or natural hair school can seem daunting. Here are a few things to consider when you're making your choice.

  • Student Reviews: Reviews from real students are one of the best ways to get a good feel for how other graduates feel about their experiences at the school—both good and bad.
  • Course Offerings: Course content differs from program to program. Look at the school's curriculum and consider whether it covers everything you want to learn.
  • Enrollment Dates: Does the school offer an enrollment schedule that works for you? Some programs have regular enrollment dates throughout the year, whereas others may only take new students once or twice annually. Are you happy to wait for your ideal program, or do you need to start quickly?
  • Expected Hours Per Week in School: Find out how much time you need to dedicate to learning each week. Can keep to that schedule—and have it fit in with your other commitments, such as work or family life?
  • Program Length: Research how long the program typically takes to complete and whether extending or shortening the time is possible.
  • School Costs vs. Your Budget: Finally, look at how much each program costs and compare it to your own budget. Be realistic here, and don't be afraid to ask about the financial aid options and scholarships available to you.

Examples of Natural Hair and Hair Braiding Schools

Here are a few examples of the types of programs available right now.

Creative Hair School of Cosmetology
Flint, MI

$4,100 tuition and fees +
$530 books and supplies


The Institute of Beauty (IOBTN)
Bartlett, TN

$3,450 tuition and fees +
$500 books and supplies


Natural Hair Course NYC
New York, NY

$3,200 tuition and fees +
$505.50 books and supplies


Trenz Beauty Academy
Chicago, IL

$1,540 tuition and fees +
$490 books and supplies


The cost of living and type of school affect tuition costs.

Getting Your Hair Braider or Natural Hair License

The exact requirements for certification in hair braiding or natural hair styling vary. Some areas don't need any official training at all. In contrast, others need you to complete up to 1,800 training hours and pass practical and written exams. You may also need to pass a criminal background check, physical exam, written and theory tests, and pay fees.

Natural Hair and Braiding Salary and Job Growth

It isn't easy to pinpoint how much natural hair stylists and braiders earn as many states don't report specifics. Those that do often include them within the general hairstylist and cosmetologist bracket.

According to Indeed, the national average salary for hair braiders is $58,705 per year or $25.20 per hour. This is on par with other hairstylists, who earn an average of $59,689 per year or $20.57 per hour.

Job outlook data for braiders and natural hair specialists are also hard to track down. But, in general, the cosmetology industry expects 11% growth between 2021 and 2031.

Natural Hair and Braiding Schools Near Me

Natural Hair and Hair Braiding Resources and Articles

Hair Braiding Licensing
Hair Braiding Careers

Hair Braiding
Commercial Career
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