Graduating from beauty school is certainly a huge accomplishment, but you will still need to complete the appropriate licensing tests before you can begin work as a cosmetologist. Licensing is generally handled through the State Board of Cosmetology or the State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology. In most cases, this organization is part of the Department of Public Health or the Department of Consumer Affairs.
To be eligible to take a licensing test, you’ll need to submit an application and pay a registration fee. You will also need to submit records of your educational background, which may include high school transcripts as well as proof of graduation from an approved beauty school. In some cases, a criminal background check or a physical evaluation may be needed.
Every state has its own requirements for licensing, but you may be asked to complete a written exam, oral exam, or practical evaluation of your skills. There will be a minimum passing score for each exam. Separate licenses and exams may be required for areas such as esthetics and nail technology.
Once you’ve earned your license, it will need to be renewed periodically. For most states, this requires paying an additional fee and submitting documentation of continuing education in areas such as safety, sanitation, and infection control.
If you decide to move to another state, you’ll need to complete the licensing procedures a second time. Cosmetology licenses are not transferable from state to state.