What are the licensing requirements to be a cosmetologist?

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In order to practice cosmetology in a salon after graduation, you must first pass your state board exam to become a licensed cosmetologist.   Cosmetology is not administered by a national licensing board so all of your time should be spent preparing for your state’s exam.

Most states’ cosmetology exams will include a written exam and a practical exam.  The written exam tests the book knowledge that you’ve been taught, and is usually graded immediately.  You can study for this exam by referencing your course books, exams, and papers. We recommend taking a practice test before the exam to give you a feel for the questions you will encounter. The practical part of your exam takes much longer and will test your ability to carry out cosmetology techniques.  This includes demonstrating your abilities in hair cutting and coloring, chemical waving, manicures/pedicures and more.   To review these, practicing makes perfect so get out your mannequin head.

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How do licenses differ between programs?

If you don’t attend a full comprehensive cosmetology program, your licensing requirements will be different. You should consult your state’s Board of Cosmetology for specific information on what all will be required per program or check out:

Will I have to renew my cosmetology license?

Since licensing is done on a state-by-state basis, renewal requirements differ in each state as well. Some states require license renewal as often as every 12 months, while some states only require renewal every 3 years. Your state board may send out reminders, but you must remember to renew your license in time, as there is often time a fee for renewing after it has expired.

How do I know if I am eligible for reciprocity?

Additionally, if you want to work in a different state than where you are licensed you must pursue reciprocity.   This doesn’t involve getting a new license; it just allows you to use your state license to work legally in another state. If the state that you’re licensed in has similar education and testing requirements as the state you would like to work, you can most likely receive reciprocity. To find out if your license is eligible for reciprocity, contact the Board of Cosmetology in the state that you want to work in. They will determine whether or not reciprocity is an option for you.

But of course, before you get licensed you will need to finish your training from an accredited cosmetology program.

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Great Falls (DC Metro Area)
VA
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MD
Moosic-Wilkes Barre-Scranton
PA