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Cosmetology and Licensing

Common questions about Cosmetology and Licensing.

When I finish my beauty school classes, will I immediately get my cosmetology license?

You will be able to get your license once you take the state board exam. Upon completion of cosmetology school, states require a graduate to take a certification exam in their program of study known as the state board examination. It’s often recommended to take the exam soon after finishing school while the information is still fresh and easy to recall.

Many beauty schools, including The Hair Design School, prepare students to become accustomed to standardized tests by holding mock state boards in the classroom. A portion of the curriculum includes study skill development and test-taking strategies. The test is one part written and the other part practical, where a demonstration of hands-on skills is examined. It can take several weeks until you receive your final grade, and if a passing score is achieved, the actual official cosmetology license arrives in the mail shortly afterward.

What do I need to receive a cosmetology license in my state?

All cosmetology licensure laws and regulations vary by state. Begin by checking your state’s regulatory agency for license and testing information upon graduating from beauty school. You then need to register to take the exam. Many states now have online registration available.

What does reciprocity for my cosmetology license mean?

In terms of cosmetology, reciprocity means the ability to use your license to practice in another state besides the one you obtained your license in. Typically, a student attends beauty school and then takes a state board exam to meet the requirements of the law for that state. If that student decides to relocate to another state, the requirements for practicing cosmetology in the new location may differ. Reciprocity allows the previous license earned to be valid without having to take additional courses to meet other state cosmetology regulations.

Although reciprocity allows this to occur, not all states have it available. For instance, one state may accept the previous license (or reciprocate, hence the name), while another may require the graduate to complete a few additional classes to become fully licensed in their state.

When a potential student is researching beauty schools to attend in a particular state and perceives relocating sometime in the future, it is recommended to research the reciprocity laws for both areas. Since there are 50 states with different laws, check the differences here or contact your local state cosmetology board.

How often do I have to renew my license?

Since licenses are required for cosmetology practice in all states, it is important to keep the license up to date. As is often the case when licensure is concerned, each state board of cosmetology dictates the law for time required to renew the license.

Many states offer a two or three year renewal period. Others set renewal at a fixed date overall or on every even-numbered year and some on every odd-numbered year. Still others require it on your birth date.

Other things to keep in mind for renewals are:

Continuing Education- A few states may require that a certain amount of hours of continuing education (CEUs) must be completed first to keep the license current.

Examinations- There are states that will require completion of a written test as proof that the licensee is current with state laws of safety and sanitation. Some state boards require that the test is taken in person. Many others allow it to be mailed out by request, completed, and then mailed back for certification.

Cost- There is fee to take the state board exam to become licensed, and there is also a certain fee to be paid in order to keep the license current. This cost can vary from $60 to $100 depending on the state. Contact your local state board for exact information.

What if my cosmetology license is expired?

It is the licensee’s responsibility to be aware of renewal times and requirements. If for some reason the renewal doesn’t take place and the license expires, then it becomes illegal for that person to practice cosmetology.

To obtain a renewal, contact your local state board to learn what needs to happen next since each state has its own requirements for renewal. Standard procedures will differ depending upon how much time has lapsed before seeking renewal. In general, for a brief time of expiration, only the usual renewal procedures need to be followed. If a few years have gone by, it may be expected to take the exam again and then follow with the renewal process. For large time lapses since expiration, a state may indicate that a number of continuing education (CEUs) be completed before retaking the exam to become relicensed.