Cosmetology is a field that includes various areas such as esthetics, nail technology, manicures, barbers, hair styling, among others. While they’re all parts of cosmetology, they all have their own educational and training requirements, which also may vary from state to state. Cosmetology has its own requirements regarding certification and or licensure. Learn more below.
How to Become a Licensed Cosmetologist
To become a cosmetologist, you must complete a training program at an accredited or state-approved cosmetology or beauty school. Cosmetology programs, which can be found at technical schools, community colleges or beauty schools, usually are certificate programs, although they may also be part of programs offering degrees. As part of the training, you’ll complete cosmetology-related classes and also complete an internship at an approved beauty salon.
The training must complete the hour requirement for the state in which the student lives or plans to work. For instance, Wisconsin requires cosmetology programs be at least 1,800 hours. Some states allow apprenticeships in lieu of a training program. The internship is a form of on-the-job-training and usually consists of a designated number of hours the student must complete in a supervised setting like a salon. A cosmetology program typically takes about one year to complete.
Once you have successfully completed the training, you’re eligible to take the cosmetology state board exam from the state in which you wish to work. The exam consists of both a written and a practical component, and both must be successfully passed. Once you’ve passed the exam, you’ll receive your license and can begin work as a licensed cosmetology.
Certification vs. Licensure
Although many people use the terms certification and licensure interchangeably, they’re actually two different things, at least in regards to the various areas of cosmetology. As stated above, the aspiring cosmetologist must complete training and pass the state board licensing exam to obtain a license to work in that state. Once the student has a cosmetology license, he or she can work as a cosmetologist, and this qualifies the individual to work as an esthetician, skincare specialist, nail technician or makeup specialist.
However, if the individual wishes to work in a specific specialized area of cosmetology, he or she must obtain certification in that area. For instance, an individual who wishes to work as an esthetician in Wisconsin must complete at least 450 hours of training and pass the state board exam. Once the candidate passes that exam, he or she can work in that specialized area. Although cosmetologists must be licensed in all the states, the requirements for licensure vary from state to state.
What About Continuing Education?
Cosmetology licenses are only valid for one to three years depending on the state. To maintain licensure, the individual must complete continuing education prior to the renewal date. The number of continuing education credits also varies from state to state. Continuing education credits may be obtained in classrooms, at salons or through online classes. Each area of specialization has different requirements as far as training hours go.