Cosmetology License Requirements by State
How to Get Your Cosmetology License
Whether you are pursuing your overall cosmetology license, or a more specific specialty certification like an esthetician license or hairstylist license, there are some consistent steps in the process across each discipline. In order to get licensed or certified for the beauty specialties in your state, it all begins with education.
As of 2015, most states require you to attend an approved school for a minimum number of hours, get hands-on training in the student salon or clinic, and sit for the state's board exams. A few states allow apprenticeship in lieu of school to get those training hours.
Once you have passed the board exams specific to your state, you are required to renew regularly. Some states require continuing education hours to renew your beauty license, some require taking a safety and sanitation quiz to renew, and others simply require the license renewal fee.
All State Cosmetology Boards
Find out your state's specific 2015 cosmetology license requirements by choosing your state from the alphabetical list below:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Number of Hours to Get Your Cosmetology License
Every state has different cosmetology license requirements, and even different beauty licenses available as options. (For example, Illinois now has a hair braiding license, but not every state has adopted this new specialty certification yet.)
Beauty Schools Directory keeps in frequent contact with the regulatory boards in each state to offer the most thorough and up-to-date information possible about beauty licensing laws, including the number of cosmetology hours required in each state.
The national average for required hours to get a cosmetologist's license and barber's license is between 1500 and 2100 hours, but it varies from state to state. Some states offer a hair license that is a slightly shorter program than cosmetology, and may not include nails or makeup. Nail technology licenses and makeup artist certifications typically require between 300 and 600 hours. Esthetician license requirements varies wildly from state-to-state, with as few as 300 hours in some states up to 1500 hours in others. Electrology/electrolysis and laser hair removal typically requires around 500 training hours.
How to Change or Transfer Your Cosmetology License
If you are moving, you may want to transfer your cosmetology license from your home state to your new place of residence so you can perform beauty services legally in that state. Some states have what's called "reciprocity" with other states, or a mutual arrangement that allows licensees to transfer with ease. This is often an option when two states have substantially similar or equivalent licensing requirements. Some states simply require an application and a transfer fee, whereas others may require you to take more training hours or sit for the new state's board exams. Choose your state from the list above to find out how to transfer your cosmetology license.
Get Cosmetology Requirements by State
We offer the most current information possible for each state's licensing, including continuing education requirements, minimum training hours required for each specialty license, renewal information, reciprocity/endorsement/transfer information and contact information for the board. Be aware that not every state offers every beautician license, and in some states the cosmetology board is not always the one that oversees that license.
We regularly update licensing information for the following beautician licenses: cosmetologists, barber, esthetician, nail technician, makeup artist, permanent makeup artist, laser hair removal specialist, cosmetology school instructor, hair braiders and massage therapists when available.
The information you find listed within each state is the latest data that Beauty Schools Directory has on file for each board of cosmetology's license requirements. Training hours and minimum license requirements are subject to change. We always recommend contacting the appropriate state board licensing agencies directly for the most up-to-date information, and have included contact information for each board on their respective state page. If you see an error in any of the licensing information or contact information for each state, please contact us and let us know!
News About Cosmetology License Requirements:
- September 2015 - "Hair Braiding Laws and News"
- May 2013 - "Beauty Professionals Should Be Licensed, According to U.S. Voters"
- February 2013 - "Indiana Cosmetology Licensing on the Chopping Block Again"
- August 2012 - "How to Pass the Cosmetology License Exam"
- July 2012 - "Tennessee House Bill 2558 Dangerous to Estheticians' Careers"
- June 2012 - "States Should Create Shorter Licenses for Specialized Cosmetology Trades"
- May 2012 - "How to Reactive an Expired Cosmetology License"
- April 2012 - "Cosmetology Deregulation a Dangerous Trend"
- February 2012 - "Military Spouses Often Face Licensing Issues When PCSing"
FAQ Quick Links
- Vital Statistics
- Is Cosmetology School for Me
- Choosing the Right School
- School Programs
- Tuition and Financial Aid
- School Requirements
- Finding Your First Job
- Professional Careers in the Cosmetology Industry
- Laws and licenses
- State-by-State License Requirements
- Cosmetology School Tools and Supplies