Cosmetology Education Requirements

If you have always had a passion for styling hair, applying makeup and working with skincare products, becoming a licensed cosmetologist may be the perfect career choice. Becoming a cosmetologist requires meeting certain requirements regarding education, training and licensure. Below you will find the education requirements necessary to fulfill your dreams of working in cosmetology.

Education Requirements for Being a Cosmetologist

To work as a cosmetologist, you must complete a training program at a state-approved school. Cosmetology programs are typically offered at community colleges, vocational schools or beauty schools. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the college the student chooses for the cosmetology training must be state-licensed.

Cosmetology programs may offer associate degrees, but they usually offer certificates of completion. The training programs generally can be completed in about a year. The student must complete a designated number of hours completing cosmetology classes and also working in a licensed salon or school. The on-the-job training is a vital part of the education requirements. Each state has its own requirements as far as training hours required.

For example, to become a cosmetologist who can cover various areas of cosmetology in Illinois, the student must complete at least 1,500 hours of training. If this same student wishes to only work as an esthetician, the required hours are 750. A nail technician license in Illinois only requires 350 hours of training. Students can choose to become a general cosmetologist, a barber, an esthetician, a manicurist, a nail technician or an electrologist. Each occupation has its own education requirements. Some states allow students to use apprenticeship hours instead of actual training.

What About Licensure?

All the states require that cosmetologists be licensed before they can work in that state. To be eligible for licensure, the student must complete a training program that’s approved by the board of cosmetology in that particular state. Once the training is successfully completed, both classroom and practical experience, the student can take the state licensing exam.

The licensing exam consists of both a written exam and a practical exam where the student must complete actual procedures or services. The cosmetology written exam takes about two hours and the practical exam takes about four hours. When the student passes both exams, he or she will receive a license to work as a cosmetologist in that state. The exam questions or required procedures may be different from day to day. Students who wish to work in specialized areas such as esthetics or nail technology can obtain certification in those areas.

Do I Need Continuing Education?

As hard as an aspiring cosmetologist may have worked to earn a license, the license is not good forever. Depending on the state, the cosmetology license may be valid for 1-3 years before it expires. To keep the license active, the cosmetologist must complete a certain number of continuing education hours. The number of hours of continuing education required varies from state to state. As long as the individual completes the continuing education prior to the renewal date, the license will be renewed automatically.