Not all jobs in the cosmetology industry require a license, but most do. Employment training and licensure is governed by the state governments, so the requirements for both obtaining a cosmetology license and employment differ depending on the state in which you live. Before you start your career in cosmetology, it is important that you check with your state’s licensing board to ensure that you remain compliant.
Professions Requiring a Cosmetology License
The majority of professions that people enter upon graduating cosmetology school require a cosmetology license. Barbers, cosmetologists, hairdressers, hair coloring specialists, makeup artists, hair stylists, nail technicians, and estheticians typically need a license to practice. Basically, if you plan to do anything that requires special skills or the use of chemicals and plan to receive compensation, then you will need to be properly licensed before working. It is also important that the business in which you practice has a license, whether it is a salon, barbershop, or spa.
When a License is Not Needed
Shampooers do not need a license, as long as they do not treat hair with chemicals, and in some states natural African hair braiders are also exempt from the license requirements. If you plan to use your cosmetology education in some fields, such as fashion stylist or beauty consultant, then you may not need a license to practice, although it could still be beneficial to find employment. Some jobs within in a salon, such as the receptionist, can also be done without needing a license.
Specialty Licenses in the Cosmetology Industry
Some states have specialty licenses under the cosmetology heading, including esthetician, cosmetology instructor, nail technician, hair braiding, barber, and makeup artist. Often, these licenses require less education and training than a general license because they are more specialized, although a barber license is very similar to a cosmetology license in regards to training requirements.
One career that requires a general cosmetology license in addition to another license is an instructor. If you want to teach, in most states, you first have to get your cosmetology license, and once you have experience and additional training, you can sit for the exam and receive your instructor license. Some states also require you obtain a special manager license if you plan to run or own a salon.
How to Get a Cosmetology License
As stated, the exact requirements for obtaining a cosmetology license differs depending on the state in which you plan to practice. Generally, you need to have a high school diploma or GED and be at least 18 years of age, although in some states it may be 16. Then, you must go through approved training by the state, and some states allow your education to be done through an apprenticeship rather than just at beauty schools. The average number of required hours of school is 1500, but your state may require more or less. Once you have completed your education and training, you can sit for an exam, which is often in two parts, a written and practical. As long as you pass the exam to the state’s approval, you receive your license.
Many states also have a reciprocity license, where you can use the training and experience in cosmetology in one state and transfer it to the other. Generally, you need to have gone through similar training and examination in your home state in order to be approved for this type of license. Most states also have strict guidelines in place as to renewing your license. Typically, you have to renew it every two to three years and take a certain number of continuing education hours.
If you wish to provide any sort of professional treatments for compensation for hair, skin, or nail care, including hair removal, then you will need a cosmetology license. If you do not have your license or have plans to get one and are looking for work in the meantime, you may be able to find some employment, including as a shampooer or receptionist.
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