Both states and schools sometimes use certification to refer to the same type of process as licensure, but the two terms actually have different meanings. Certification generally refers to a sometimes voluntary process workers go through to show they've met certain professional qualifications. Licensure, on the other hand, refers to the laws governing a particular occupation that workers must abide by.
Hair braiding 'certification' courses, then, actually prepare students for state cosmetology licensing exams. Hair braiding can either be found as a topic in basic and advanced hair styling courses or in a course of its own, focusing on topics such as scalp care, basic braiding styles, sanitation and professional procedures. Hands-on training may also be included in these courses as well.
In Florida, hair braiders take a 2-day course consisting of 16 hours of training in sanitation, sterilization, scalp disorders, HIV/AIDS and hair braiding laws. After completing the 2-day course, hair braiders must then register with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and pay an application fee. While waiting for their registration to be issued, hair braiders can begin working legally. Hair braiders must renew their licenses every two years by completing 16 hours of continuing education units.
The Minnesota Board of Barber and Cosmetologist Examiners requires hair braiders to complete 30 hours of training in the areas of health, sanitation and safety. Specific topics covered include virus and bacteria reproduction, sterilization, blood-borne pathogens, proper sanitation and decontamination. Students are supervised by an instructor and are assigned hands-on exercises in sanitation. License renewal for hair braiders in Minnesota is every three years.
Wisconsin, California and Mississippi
Some states don't license or regulate hair braiding. Wisconsin, for example, does not offer a hair braiding curriculum, and California does not regulate hair braiders. Up until 2004, hair braiding was not part of the cosmetology curriculum in Mississippi, and anyone wanting to work as a hair braider had to complete the cosmetology education required for licensing, even though hair braiding was not part of the curriculum, according to the Institute for Justice. In 2005, after a lawsuit was filed against the state, aspiring hair braiders became able to gain licenses by paying a licensing fee to the Board of Health and taking a test on sanitation and health guidelines.
An Overview of Hair Braiding
Hair braiding is the process of weaving or intertwining the hair in a variety of styles, including cornrows, locks (or locs), twists, knots and single braids. Hair stylists often learn these techniques at cosmetology schools. They also learn about regulations concerning sanitation and safety issues.
Cosmetologists in the United States are required to be licensed. In general, hair braiders must be at least 16 years old, hold a high school diploma or GED and graduate from a state-licensed cosmetology school.