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Cosmetology Exam & Cosmetology Certification Info

What is Cosmetology?

Cosmetology is a profession that includes a range of beauty and wellness services, such as hairstyling, nail care, makeup application, and skin care. Professionals in this field, known as cosmetologists, require specialized training and certification to practice. In the United States, this certification is often provided by the state board of cosmetology or a similar regulatory body.

The Certification Process

The process for obtaining cosmetology certification generally involves the following steps:

Step 1: Eligibility and Application

Before you can take the cosmetology certification exam, you must meet certain eligibility requirements. These typically include completing a certain number of hours of training at an approved cosmetology school. Once you meet these requirements, you can apply to take the exam. The application process usually involves submitting an application form, paying a fee, and providing proof of your training.

Step 2: Scheduling the Exam

After your application is approved, you can schedule your exam. The scheduling process varies by state, but it usually involves selecting a date and location from a list of available options. Some states also allow you to take the exam online.

Step 3: Taking the Exam

The exam itself typically includes both a written portion and a practical portion. The written portion tests your knowledge of cosmetology theory, while the practical portion tests your hands-on skills. After passing the exam, you'll receive your cosmetology certification and can begin practicing professionally.

Location Information

The location of the exam will depend on your state's regulations. Some states have multiple testing centers, while others have a single location. Check your state board's website for specific information.


The website for your state board of cosmetology will have all the information you need to apply for and schedule your exam. Some states also offer online resources to help you prepare for the exam. To find your state board's website, simply search for "[your state] board of cosmetology."

For example, if you are in California, you would visit the website for the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology (

Cosmetology Exams

Cosmetology (COSM)

The Cosmetology Certification Test is a comprehensive exam for aspiring cosmetologists, covering topics like hair cutting and styling, nail care, skin care, makeup application, color theory, sanitation, and safety procedures. The test, typically separated into written and practical sections, is designed to assess a candidate’s theoretical knowledge and hands-on skills. Upon passing, individuals earn their cosmetology license, qualifying them to practice professionally. The format and topics may vary by state, as each has its own licensing requirements. Preparing for this exam often involves completing a state-approved cosmetology program and extensive practical training.

100 - Multiple Choice
Rules, Regulations, and Safety
Shampoo Scalp Analysis
Hair Color, Bleaching/Lightening, and Tinting
Permanent Waving
Chemical Straightening and Relaxing

180 Minutes