How to get a cosmetology license
If you aspire to enter the cosmetology field, either as a hairstylist, makeup artist, esthetician, or other related field, you will need a cosmetology license to legally practice these services.
Specifics regarding education, exams, and licensing for cosmetologists differ from state to state, but here are the general requirements to get you started and help you obtain a license so you can begin your career.
Interested in starting your own cosmetology business? Check out these sisters who started a nail salon together.
Basic requirements to getting a cosmetology license
You must be at least sixteen years of age and have a high school diploma or GED to be eligible for a cosmetology license. However, there could be other basic requirements depending on what state you live in, so make sure to research your state’s specific cosmetology license requirements.
Educational requirements to getting a cosmetology license
In order to obtain a cosmetology license, you need to pass a state board exam and meet certain educational requirements. The specifics of your cosmetology education will vary by state, school, and specialization. In most states, you will have to enroll in an accredited cosmetology school in order to qualify to take the cosmetology license exam. You can look up exactly how many educational hours your state requires you to complete, but plan on devoting between 1,000 to 2,100 hours.
In some states, like Alaska, you can complete 2,000 hours of an apprenticeship under a licensed cosmetologist instead of enrolling in a cosmetology school.
If you specialize to be a nail technician or esthetician, for example, the educational requirements will most likely be different. You may be able to complete fewer course hours if you choose a specialty.
If you do not choose a specialty, curriculum typically includes courses in hair cutting, hair styling, facials, manicures, and makeup artistry to name a few.
Contents of the cosmetology state board exam
The contents of the exam to obtain a cosmetology license vary by state. Some states only require a written exam, while others require a written and practical exam. In the written exam, there are typically questions on cosmetology terms, safety practices, state-specific laws, and cosmetology theory, such as how to cut hair based on the correct theory.
If your state requires you to take a practical exam, you could be asked to demonstrate your knowledge of hair care and cutting (such as hair relaxers and dies), how to do waxing and tweezing, massage techniques, as well as sanitation and safety procedures.
Insurance for cosmetologists
Those who enter into the cosmetology field often find themselves as solopreneurs – serving clients in salons, at their clients’ homes, or at the cosmetologists home. In this case, it is important that you protect your cosmetology business with the proper insurance.
Here are some common reasons that cosmologists get sued and how insurance can help.
1. Lost wages
A hairdresser messes up a newscaster’s hair causing them to miss work. The client sues for lost wages and the incremental cost of having their hair done by someone else. Professional liability insurance could protect you if such a claim is made.
2. Treatment gone wrong
An esthetician applies a chemical peel for a client. This client just returned from a vacation where she was in the sun all day. The client’s skin looked fine before the vacation but the extreme sun exposure on sensitive skin caused painful burns. The client decides to blame the esthetician and sues. This is another situation where a professional liability policy could protect you.
3. Personal injury
A make-up artist went to a bar after work with some friends. After a few drinks, she began talking loudly about a client. The comments were overheard by friends of the client, so word got back to the client, who sued the make-up artist for slander. General liability insurance may protect make-up artists against third-party claims of defamation and slander.
4. Bodily injury
A nail technician completes a manicure for a client leaving on a cruise and gives her a tube of serum designed to extend the life of the manicure. When the client uses it, she develops a rash all over her fingers and has to postpone the cruise. She sues the manicurist. The subsequent claim and related medical expenses could be covered. General liability insurance could protect against third-party claims of bodily injury and associated medical costs.
5. Damage to client property
A cosmetologist gets hired to provide makeup styling on a commercial video shoot. She sets her bags on a shelf, but realizes two seconds too late that the shelf can’t support the bag’s weight, causing the shelf to buckle, and the bag to fall directly on top of a box of expensive props. A general liability policy could cover the subsequent claim, up to your policy's limits of liability.
Learn more about protecting your small business with insurance.