What is cosmetology? 

Cosmetology is the study of beauty practices and covers a wide range of fields. That includes coloring, cutting, dyeing, shampooing, and styling hair, applying makeup, and providing nail care and skin care. 

How long does it take to Get a Cosmetology license?

All 50 states plus Washington, D.C. require a license to work as a cosmetologist. But the requirements can vary, from 233 days in New York to 963 days in Massachusetts. If a student graduates on time, it typically takes around a year to finish cosmetology school. But fewer than a third of cosmetology students graduate on time

StateEducation and Experience RequiredEstimated Calendar Days LostExamsMinimum GradeMinimum Age
Alabama1500 clock hours35021016
Alaska1650 clock hours385200
Arizona1600 clock hours37321016
Arkansas1500 clock hours35021016
California1600 clock hours37321017
Colorado1800 clock hours4202016
Connecticut1500 clock hours350190
District of Columbia1500 clock hours35021018
Delaware1500 clock hours35021016
Florida1200 clock hours2802016
Georgia1500 clock hours35021217
Hawaii1800 clock hours42011216
Idaho1600 clock hours37321017
Illinois1500 clock hours3501016
Indiana1500 clock hours35011018
Iowa2100 clock hours4901120
Kansas1500 clock hours35021217
Kentucky1800 clock hours + 6 months60231216
Louisiana1500 clock hours35021016
Maine1500 clock hours35021017
Maryland1500 clock hours3502917
Massachusetts1000 clock hours + 2 years963200
Michigan1500 clock hours3502917
Minnesota1550 clock hours3623120
Mississippi1500 clock hours35021217
Missouri1500 clock hours35021017
Montana2000 clock hours46721218
Nebraska1800 clock hours42011217
Nevada1600 clock hours37321018
New Hampshire1500 clock hours3502120
New Jersey1200 clock hours28021217
New Mexico1600 clock hours37331017
New York1000 clock hours2332017
North Carolina1500 clock hours350200
North Dakota1800 clock hours4203120
Ohio1500 clock hours35021016
Oklahoma1500 clock hours3502816
Oregon2300 clock hours397300
Pennsylvania1250 clock hours29211016
Rhode Island1500 clock hours35021218
South Carolina1500 clock hours35021016
South Dakota2100 clock hours49031218
Tennessee1500 clock hours3502016
Texas1500 clock hours35021217
Utah1600 clock hours373200
Vermont1500 clock hours35031218
Virginia1500 clock hours350200
Washington1600 clock hours3732017
West Virginia1800 clock hours42031218
Wisconsin1550 clock hours3622018
Wyoming2000 clock hours46721016

How much does a cosmetology license Cost?  

On average, completing the required classes for a cosmetology license costs more than $16,000, according to a study by the Institute for Justice. To pay for cosmetology school, students took out over $7,300 on average in student loan debt. All that debt adds up: Cosmetology courses generated the fifth-largest share of student loan borrowers out of all undergraduate, master’s, and professional degree programs.

How Much Can I Expect to Earn as a Licensed Cosmetologist?

Few cosmetologists can expect to command celebrity-level wages. In 2021, half of all cosmetologists earned less than $29,680 a year or $14.27 per hour.

Can You Work in the Beauty Industry Without a Cosmetology License?

For people who want to offer a niche or boutique service, cosmetology licenses create unnecessary barriers and force potential workers to spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours to take unnecessary classes. But depending on the service provided, states may offer a separate specialty license that is much easier to get than a full-blown cosmetology license. Some states may also completely exempt certain beauty practices from licensing altogether. 

Blow Dry Bars

Hairstyling salons, also known as blow dry bars, offer clients a select array of services like shampooing, blow drying and styling hair. These specialty salons do not cut hair or use chemicals and dyes.

Eyebrow Threading

Using only a simple piece of sewing thread, threading is a precise way to remove hair. Compared to other hair-removal techniques, threading doesn’t use chemicals, heat, or sharp objects, making threading generally faster and less expensive.

Eyelash Extensions

As a longer-lasting alternative to strip-lashes, eyelash extensions create a look of longer and fuller eyelashes that lasts for a few weeks. Using a semi-permanent glue, a specialist attaches synthetic or silk fibers to individual eyelashes.

Hair Braiding

Natural hair braiding is a beauty practice popular among many Black and immigrant communities in the United States. Braiding is a very safe practice as braiders do not use any dangerous chemicals, dyes or coloring agents and do not cut hair. 

Makeup Artistry

Makeup artists apply cosmetics to the face or exposed body areas to improve or otherwise alter people’s appearances.

Nail Care

Nail technicians, also known as manicurists and pedicurists, clean and shape customers’ fingernails and toenails. They may polish and decorate nails.

Skin Care

Skin care specialists, also known as estheticians, spa technicians and facialists, provide skin care treatments to the face and body. Estheticians offer services like body waxing, facials and microdermabrasion, which enhance an individual’s appearance.

Cosmetology Cases

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Cosmetology Legislation

Cosmetology | Economic Liberty

Niche-Beauty Services Opportunity Act

Hairstyling salons, often referred to as “blow dry bars,” are gaining popularity nationwide. They offer fewer services than traditional cosmetology salons, focusing on shampooing, blow drying, and styling, while excluding haircuts or chemical treatments. These…

Salon Inspection Act: Regulate Salons—Free People

Cosmetology | Economic Liberty

Salon Inspection Act: Regulate Salons—Free People

The beauty industry offers great opportunities for work and entrepreneurship. However, states erect roadblocks by requiring barbers, cosmetologists, estheticians and nail technicians to spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to attend schools and…

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Cosmetology Research

Cosmetology | Economic Liberty

Beauty School Debt and Drop-Outs

Cosmetology is one of the most widely and onerously regulated occupations for lower-income workers, yet little research has explored the experiences of aspiring beauty workers. This first-of-its-kind study takes advantage of federal educational…

Cosmetology | Economic Liberty | Occupational Licensing

Beauty School Debt and Drop-Outs

A January 2021 executive order requires Utah executive agencies to identify occupational regulations that are no longer necessary or can be reined in to reduce barriers to entry. One regulation that should be on the table is cosmetology…

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