How Do I Become a Licensed Cosmetologist?

Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen
Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

If you want to become a licensed cosmetologist, your first step is to determine the requirements for receiving your cosmetologist license in the jurisdiction where you want to work. Typically, you will be required to enroll in an approved school of cosmetology and complete its educational program. After you complete your education, you may be expected to pass a comprehensive exam offered by the government agency that licenses cosmetologists in the area where you live. You may also be subjected to a background check as part of the licensing process. Once you have met the requirements of licensing and your application is approved, you can begin work as a cosmetologist.

While requirements for cosmetology licensing may be set by national boards in some countries, in order to become a licensed cosmetologist in the United States, you must complete the requirements set by individual state licensing boards. Wherever you live, you should contact the government agency that regulates trades and professions and ask to be directed to the cosmetologist licensing board. The licensing board can inform you of the requirements to become a licensed cosmetologist in your jurisdiction. If formal education is required, the board can also provide you with a list of schools that are approved to offer cosmetology training.

Once you identify schools in your area, be sure to visit the schools and find out about their training programs. You may find that you like one school more than another or that one school stands out for offering cheaper tuition or more convenient scheduling. Once you make your selection, apply to attend the school. This may require you to submit previous school transcripts, and you may also have to interview with a school official.

The amount of time that you will have to be in school in order to become a licensed cosmetologists depends entirely on the regulations set by your jurisdiction. In the United States, a person can typically complete a cosmetology licensing program in less than a year if she attends school full time. The curriculum usually consists of both classroom courses in various techniques and skills and also requires students to complete a certain number of hours working in the school's student clinic.

After completing school, you will need to apply to receive your license. You may be required to take and pass an examination, which may require you to take a written test as well as to demonstrate your skills. In some cases, you may be asked to undergo a criminal background check. If you do have a criminal history, you may be asked to explain it. Once you receive your license, you have officially become a licensed cosmetologist. You can expect, however, to have to complete ongoing continuing education in order to keep your license renewed.

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Discussion Comments


I want to become a Cosmetologist. I am from Nigeria and I want to study abroad. Which school offers the best cosmetics courses and more on practicals? My first degree is in the English language. Hope I can switch now. Please reply.


I am working on a report on cosmetology in ninth grade and this website is vary helpful.

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