What Qualifications Do You Need to Open a Beauty Salon?

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The day has finally come for you to turn your dreams into a reality. You are setting out to open your very own beauty salon. Starting out can be both exciting and daunting. As you navigate the twists and turns of learning to operate your own business, you might feel overwhelmed. From licenses and permits to organizing your business structure, there is a lot to think about and plan. Exactly what qualifications do you need to open a beauty salon?

Don’t get discouraged. Although the exact details can vary depending on the state, this article will help you get an overview of what you need to know. Then, once you understand how to open a beauty salon, you will be well on your way to fulfilling your dreams.

Business Qualifications

Beauty salon business operation license

A business license is a license that allows you to operate a business within your state. Almost every business needs to have a business license, salons included. In fact, every US state requires that a salon has a business license. You can apply for one through The U.S. Small Business Administration.

Beauty salon owner license

This license is for salon owners in particular. This license grants the right to own and operate your beauty salon business.

In order to qualify for this license, you must meet certain criteria. For example, you need to have a valid cosmetology license and a sound business plan.

You also need proof of the other licenses and permits required in your state and a location that meets the required safety and health standards.

Knowledge of business management, accounting, and marketing

In order for your beauty salon to be successful, you need to know more than the current fashion trends. You’ll need skills in accounting, marketing, and business management if you want to do well.

Accounting skills allow you to track your income and expenses and manage your cash flow. This knowledge will also save you a lot of trouble and headache when tax season comes around. Marketing skills help promote your brand and attract and keep clients. Business management skills give you the tools you need to set goals, manage staff, and organize your resources. If you want your salon business to thrive in the competitive beauty industry, these skills are vital.

Importance of developing a comprehensive business plan

Having a comprehensive beauty salon business plan is essential. A business plan lays out your goals, marketing strategies, and financial projections. It also details who your target market is and who the competition is. Having a business plan written helps you organize and stay focused.

If you plan on looking for investors or outside financing, a business plan is essential. It will help you convince investors that you understand the beauty industry and that you are on a clear path to success.

Beauty Qualifications

clients in a beauty salon getting their hair and nails done

Image by storyset on Freepik

Education and certification requirements

Identifying the services you will offer will help you determine what qualifications you need to open a beauty salon. If you plan on performing treatments yourself, this is especially important. As a business owner, you need as much experience as possible.

In the US, everyone who works in the personal appearance field needs a license. This includes everything from hair styling to makeup application. The Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing can tell you the exact licenses and permits you will need.

Here is a list of NVQs, which are the most common qualifications you need:

  • NVQ Diploma in Hair and Beauty Services (Level 2)
  • NVQ Diploma in Beauty Therapy Services (Level 2)
  • NVQ Diploma in Beauty Techniques (Level 2)
  • NVQ Diploma in Beauty Therapy (Level 3)
  • Diploma in Beauty Therapy Treatments (Level 3)
  • NVQ Diploma in Advanced Beauty Therapy (Level 3)

You can also get certifications from other places, such as VTCT certificates, CIBTAC qualifications, BTEC, and HNDs.

Cosmetologist license

Beauty salon employees will need a cosmetologist’s license before they can perform any work in the salon. Normally, the state board issues a cosmetology license. Even the owner of a salon must have a cosmetology license.

Cosmetology licenses have to be renewed approximately every two years, and you must display them in a visible location in the salon.

The exact qualifications for receiving a cosmetology license differ from state to state. Anyone who wants a cosmetology license must first complete a certain number of required hours in a cosmetology school. The American Association of Cosmetology Schools website can help you understand the requirements for the state where you live.

Understanding of health and safety regulations and sanitation practices

Before you can open a salon, you must understand the regulations for health and safety in your area. You also need to understand what the sanitation practices are. This includes sterilization, disinfection, and the proper disposal of unsafe materials and chemicals. This is important because the health and safety of your clients and staff depend on your following these regulations.

Familiarity with various beauty products and equipment

What kinds of makeup and products will you use at your salon? Which tools are the best to use? Having a thorough knowledge of this topic will help you provide the best service to your clients. It will also help you make better decisions about which products to use or sell at your salon. Understanding your salon equipment will help you maintain the equipment you have properly.

Continuing education

Many states require ongoing training courses if you want to keep your cosmetology license active. Sometimes, it is a training course on regulations in order to renew your license. In other cases, you may take a training course that helps you learn a new skill. There are even training courses that help you stay up to date with the latest techniques and trends.

Industry Experience

a client having her makeup done by a makeup artist in a beauty salon

Image by storyset on Freepik

Importance of understanding the day-to-day operations of a beauty salon

A beauty salon is more than just a place where people can get a haircut or a new style. There are a lot of services that a beauty salon can offer to its clients. Understanding the day-to-day process of operating a salon business will help you run your beauty salon more effectively.

Some aspects of running a salon business include managing appointments and finances, organizing staff, and tracking inventory. Besides scheduling your own appointments, you need to know how to organize the schedule for your employees. You also have to know how to train and organize your staff.

You also have to keep track of your expenses and income, as well as order and store equipment and supplies properly. It’s also important for salon owners to know how to address feedback and complaints from customers.

Ways to gain experience

You can get more experience in different ways. For example, you could work as an apprentice or an intern for a time. Internships and apprenticeships give you the opportunity to learn critical skills and gain experience under the supervision of a more experienced stylist.

Getting hands-on experience under the guidance of an experienced professional is a great opportunity if you want to gain more skills and practice. It’s also a great way to build contacts. Conferences and industry events are also great opportunities to network and give you insight into the field.

Personal Qualifications

Strong communication and customer service skills

Good communication skills are a vital part of running your own salon. You need to understand your clients’ preferences and needs and give them the advice they need.

You need to know how to come across as friendly and kind so that clients feel welcomed and comfortable. As a professional, you should also know how to treat your customers with respect and handle any complaints or problems with empathy and tact.

Good customer service skills and communication skills will help you gain the loyalty of your customers. They also increase your chances of getting referrals. As you build relationships with your clients, you will also find your work more fulfilling and enjoy your job more.

Ability to manage employees and create a positive work environment

Creating a positive work environment and retaining your employees is important if you want your salon to be successful. You need to learn to delegate tasks effectively, provide support and feedback to staff, and create a team culture that is positive and fun. This requires leadership skills as you learn how to motivate and encourage your employees.

Time management

Salon owners and managers have a full plate if they want to keep things running smoothly and effectively. Learn how to juggle a lot of responsibilities. Practice managing your time wisely.

Time management skills will help you organize your to-do list in an efficient manner so you can tackle everything. Write your schedule and plan times for everything. If you can’t get to everything, make a separate list of tasks that you could delegate to someone else.

Other Legal Requirements to Open a Beauty Salon

an illustration of a checklist completed and a satisfied girl smiling

Salon Retail Seller Permit

Some states require you to have a separate permit if you want to sell retail.

If your state charges a sales tax, then you probably need to have a retail seller permit. This permit allows you to sell services and products and then collect sales tax. The permit has several different names. In your area, it might be called a reseller permit, reseller number, resale permit, or seller ID among others.

In California, you need a special permit to sell or lease merchandise. To find out more information about this, contact the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration.

The U.S. Small Business Administration is another great stop to check what the requirements are in your state. Alternatively, you can also ask the City of Commerce in your city about the necessary permits.

Certificate Of Occupancy

Whether you decide to buy a location for a salon or sign a lease agreement, you will need a certificate of occupancy. A certificate of occupancy explains what you use the structure for and proves that the structure complies with local building codes. If you don’t have a certificate of occupancy, the local government could sue you.

The local building or zoning office can explain what documentation you need to get the certificate of occupancy. Your local government website should also have this information. Some areas are more strict than others, so it’s important to check carefully. New York City’s rules surrounding certificates of occupancy are an example of strict regulations.

Building Permits

Does your salon need some work before you can get it up and running? Then you will probably need a building permit. Even if you just want to add some plumbing or move a wall, you will need a permit before you can get started. The City hall usually has a building department responsible for issuing building permits.

Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)

This is not a tax-exempt number. The state revenue department will have more information about organizations that are exempt from state and use taxes.

You’ll need a Federal employer identification number to pay your own taxes, issue tax documents for suppliers, or provide payroll for your employees.

Tax ID

If you don’t plan to hire employees, a tax ID number should be sufficient. This 9-digit number allows the IRS to keep track of companies and individuals. Sometimes banks also require this number before they will approve a loan or line of credit.

The IRS website has an online application you can fill out if you want a business tax ID number.

Inspections Approvals

Before your salon opens, the state board will inspect your site to make sure it has met all the licensing requirements. The location and the salon have to pass sanitation standards. The inspector will also make sure you have the licenses and certifications on display. They will also want to ensure that you have information accessible on your business hours, local laws, and customer complaints and procedures.

Besides the basic fire and electrical safety inspections, the board will also have the inspector check your equipment and facilities to make sure it is safe for your employees and customers.

Specific Licenses and Permits

The legal requirements in one state or city usually differ from one to the next. Depending on the exact services you plan to offer, the licenses and permits will probably be different too. For example, if you offer therapeutic massage, tanning, or waxing, you usually need additional specific licenses.

If you rent spaces to your stylists and employees, you will probably need additional licenses for that as well. It would be a good idea to look into that before you get started.

The National Association of Complementary and Alternative Medicines (NACAMS) has a complete list of the licensing requirements for each state.

Where to Find Information on Requirements to Open a Salon?

As this article has pointed out, the exact requirements for licenses and permits change from one state to the next.

It’s not possible to list all the licenses and requirements for every state in this article. It’s best to talk to someone who understands the local requirements.

Also, don’t forget to take a look at our opening a salon checklist, where you’ll find all the information you need to open a salon:

In order to get a clear picture of exactly what you need, it might be a good idea to talk to your local trade association. Some trade associations go under the following names:  Salon & Spa Professional Association, Professional Beauty Association, and Association of Cosmetology Salon Professionals.

How Can Trafft Help Me Manage My Beauty Salon?

Do you know the hassle of salon management? Appointment mix-ups, no-shows, or simply trying to juggle it all? Get ready to kick those headaches to the curb. Meet Trafft.

No, it’s not magic, but it feels close. Trafft is your one-stop shop for salon management, and here’s why.

1. Say goodbye to scheduling nightmares.

trafft beauty salons booking software overview

Trafft offers seamless online booking. Let clients book their appointments at their own convenience. They choose a service, a stylist, and a time. You get an alert. Simple as that.

2. Cut out the no-show blues.


Not on our watch.

Trafft sends automated reminders, so clients never miss their appointments. It’s like having a personal assistant working round the clock.

3. Know your numbers.

Knowledge is power, right? Well, Trafft gives you insights on tap. Customer behavior, sales trends, peak times – we’ve got you covered. Make data-driven decisions and watch your business flourish.

4. It’s all in the cloud.

Pen and paper?

Pfft, that’s old school.

Trafft’s here to catapult you into the digital age. Access your schedule, client info, or sales data anytime, anywhere. All you need is an internet connection.

Cool, huh?

5. Grow your client base.

Repeat customers are awesome. But so are new ones. Trafft’s user-friendly interface and incredible customer experience make people want to book again…and again.

Trafft is more than just software. It’s a revolution in salon management. With us, you’re not just surviving the chaos, you’re thriving in it.

Take a leap, try Trafft. Trust us, you won’t look back.

Ready to see the difference Trafft can make? Jump on board. Your salon, your rules. Let’s do this!

FAQ on the qualifications you need to open a beauty salon

What type of education do I need to open a beauty salon?

It’s generally advisable to have a cosmetology degree or diploma to open a beauty salon. This not only teaches you beauty techniques but also informs you about salon management and industry standards.

Do I need a professional license to run a salon?

Absolutely, yes. In almost all regions, you’ll require a cosmetology license to operate a beauty salon.

These licenses are obtained after completing a state-approved cosmetology program and passing an examination.

What kind of experience should I have before opening a salon?

Experience in the beauty industry is vital. You might consider working in a salon first to understand the nuances of running such a business.

Learning from the successes and challenges faced by others can be invaluable.

Is it important to have business skills to open a beauty salon?

Yes, it’s quite crucial. As well as being skilled in cosmetology, you should understand how to manage a business, from finances to marketing and customer service.

Taking a course in business management could be a good start.

Do I need any special training or certification in specific beauty treatments?

Well, this depends on the services you plan to offer. For certain treatments, like laser hair removal or advanced skin treatments, specific certifications may be required.

What qualifications do my employees need to have?

Your employees, especially those providing services, should also have cosmetology licenses. Depending on their roles, they might need additional certifications or specialized training.

Do I need certification in salon sanitation and safety?

This is vital. Knowing how to keep your salon clean and safe is not just good practice, it’s often a legal requirement. Look into health and safety courses for salon owners.

What qualifications do I need for the financial aspects of running a salon?

Understanding finance is key. This includes budgeting, pricing services, paying wages, and managing taxes.

A basic course in business finance can help, or you might consider hiring an accountant.

Is there a need for communication and customer service skills?

Absolutely! Salons are customer-focused businesses. Being able to communicate effectively, handle complaints, and ensure customer satisfaction is fundamental. If this isn’t your strong suit, consider taking a customer service course.

So, What Qualifications Do You Need to Open a Beauty Salon?

There are a lot of requirements and red tape to go through before you can open a salon. But with research and careful planning, you can make the entire process a lot easier. This will save you time and stress.

The long list of requirements can seem daunting, even overwhelming. But with hard work and dedication, opening a salon is achievable.

Don’t forget to do your research and find out what qualifications you need to open a beauty salon. Check into the local and state requirements. Make the needed adjustments. If you do that, you will set yourself up to fully enjoy your salon’s success.

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Jovana Smoljanovic Tucakov
Jovana Smoljanovic Tucakov

Jovana Smoljanovic Tucakov is a Content Marketing and SEO Specialist who uses both words and data to communicate a message and deliver value. With more than 5 years of experience in digital marketing and content production in the IT industry, she loves identifying and solving the readers’ pain points and creating targeted content.

Curious about the human mind and emotions, especially those that drive consumer behavior. Likes fitness, food preparation, board games, reading (both for pleasure and learning), and binge-watching Netflix.