What kind of license is needed to be a stylist?

Each state requires that stylists, barbers and cosmetologists have a license to legally offer their services. An exception is shampooers, who do not need formal education, but basic job training and supervision of the stylist. The requirements of each state to obtain the license are different, and are applied by the cosmetology councils. As of 2010, the average salary for these jobs was US $ 22,500 per year, or US $ 10.82 per hour, in accordance with the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Periodic renewal of the license is necessary.


The first step in obtaining a stylist’s license is to complete a state-approved cosmetology program or hairdressing school. Generally, prerequisites include a high school diploma or GED equivalent and be at least 16 years old. State-approved programs are offered at trade schools, technical schools and community colleges. Some public schools offer vocational training programs, which allow students to acquire the license along with a high school diploma. Some states offer alternatives with classroom education with agreements to learn through local classrooms, allowing students to learn with practice. The number of hours needed to complete the program varies considerably from state to state, from 1. 000 in New York up to 1,600 hours in California. As a general rule, you must commit for at least nine months.


A licensing exam applied by the state after having successfully completed a training program approved by it is the final step in obtaining the license. The exams consist of a written exam, and may also include tests of oral and practical skills. In addition to state laws and health procedures, stylist exams assess your ability to do well draping, washing, discoloration, darker hair painting, chemical relaxers, haircuts, permanent hair dryers, and hair dryers. Perform different tasks.

Combined license

Depending on the state, the stylist’s license can be grouped into a general cosmetology license. This will allow you to offer other services, usually as a hairdresser, beautician or manicurist. In this case, the test will also include personal grooming, facials, hair removal and nail care.


Each state has particular requirements for the license, so if you move or work in several states, you will need a license for each. You will need to know if your state has reciprocity before enrolling in a training program. A reciprocity agreement can allow stylists who are already licensed to obtain a license just by taking the board exam, without having to do additional training that is normally required for new applicants.