According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, cosmetologists in all states are required to be licensed. As of 2014, this includes completing a cosmetology program approved by the state, and passing the state's certification exam, along with submitting any required licensing fees. Prior to completing cosmetology school, a person must also be at least 16 years old and have earned a high school diploma.
The minimum time to complete a typical approved cosmetology program is nine months. A person can also complete a two-year associate's degree in cosmetology through a trade school or beauty college. Though it is not required for licensure, a more extensive degree expands one's potential for certain career opportunities. In addition to further learning of cosmetology techniques, it may provide insight and allow for the development of an independent cosmetology business.
As part of the education requirement, state licensing includes completion of a written exam. Depending on the state, a candidate may also have to complete a verbal and/or practical test. For those who pass, there is a fee to obtain the license.
Reciprocity across state lines is rare. If a person plans to work in two states or is considering a move, it is wise to check with the licensing board of both states for potential reciprocity. Often however, a person must complete the training and licensing requirements in both states.