Those interested in becoming hair stylists must attend cosmetology school and obtain a cosmetology or barber license according to the laws in their state. States require anywhere from 1500 to 2500 hours of education in a licensed cosmetology or barber school before students can take the test to get their license.
The license test is generally given by the state board of cosmetology in the state where the applicant wishes to work. The test includes both a written and practical portion. During the written portion of the exam, the student answers a combination of multiple choice, true-and-false and long-answer questions. In the practical portion of the test, students must perform services on a model or mannequin, such as perm wraps, color applications, facial massages and manicures. Students must successfully pass both portions of the test to obtain a license and begin working as a hairdresser.
In many states, licensed cosmetologists are required to take continuing education courses to keep their license. While the specific requirements vary from state to state, cosmetologists must earn the necessary continuing education credit hours to continue working in a salon. If they fail to do so, they are not qualified to work as a hair stylist.