When I finish my beauty and cosmetology course, will a get a cosmetology license automatically?

Because cosmetology is considered to be a professional career, each state has requirements for a separate examination after passing your course.

Contact your local Cosmetology Board

For details about your examination and what your state requires, your first contact should be with your state’s Cosmetology Board to inquire about what is required for your examination, local testing centers, and other resources that might be available for scheduling your examination. Your school should have information on how to reach out to the local Cosmetology Board.

Taking Your Examination

In order to take the examination for your state, you will need to submit an application for examination to the state’s testing company. There may be a separate examination fee required, depending on your state. Additionally, some states may require that you take your examination within a specific time period (such as six months).

On exam day, be sure to bring a government-issued photo identification for yourself and your model (if applicable). Do whatever you can to ensure you arrive on time – almost all testing centers will require you to reschedule if you are late.

In many cases, same-day scoring is available. If you pass the ‘theoretical’ aspect of the exam, you will receive information on the ‘practical’ portion of the exam. If you do not pass the ‘theoretical’ aspect, you will be provided information to reschedule to take the exam again.

Some states will allow for a temporary license once you have passed your exam. Each state is different in this, so you will want to check with your school or your state’s Cosmetology Board for specifics. In most states, you can actually begin your practice the same day you pass the exam!

Once you pass your examination, you will be required to renew your license periodically. Some states require Continuing Education (CE) credits in order to renew your license, some may require a sanitation or safety quiz, while other states may only require you to pay the renewal licensing fees.

Be aware that your Cosmetology license is only valid in your state. In most cases, states will allow you to transfer your current license – these are called reciprocity states – with only paying a transfer fee. Other states may require additional training or Continuing Education (CE) credits. For specific details about your state, you will need to contact the state Cosmetology Board where you would like to move.