2022 Edition

Cosmetologist Test Guide

Cosmetologists work in the beauty industry. If you are interested in hair care, nails, and skincare, then becoming a cosmetologist maybe the right career choice for you.  Most states require a cosmetologist to be licensed or certified with the state.  Services that a licensed cosmetologist can perform include haircutting, hair color, hairstyling, wig making, waxing, manicures, pedicures, eye brow and lash tinting, permanent waves, relaxers, reformation curls, hair additions and extensions, and makeup applications.  Cosmetologists also make sure that their services are performed safely, while preserving and protecting the health of the community.  Some traits that successful cosmetologists display are:
  • friendly personality
  • excellent listening skills
  • the ability to perform tasks in a safe and efficient manner
  • being able to lift and stand for long periods of time
  • being able to manage time efficiently
  • being able to perform one or more tasks at the same time
  • patient demeanor
  • professional appearance
Why should I become a cosmetologist?

According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor statistics, regarding the outlook for cosmetologists, there is a 10% expected growth in cosmetology jobs by 2024, which is faster than most occupations. The median salary for a cosmetologist in 2015 was $23,710 or about $11.40 per hour. But this can vary due to the hours worked, time of licensure or experience, amount of clientele, and the state in which one works. Being a cosmetologist allows you to work in the various areas of cosmetology once you are licensed.  Some cosmetologist choose to work only a few days a week in a salon. The flexibility is very enticing.  A career as a cosmetologist can also be rewarding in that you perform services to help make clients look and feel better.

Where do cosmetologist work?

Most cosmetologists will work in a salon.  However, there are many different areas of cosmetology.  Some of the areas a cosmetologist can work include:  as a salon owner, as an instructor at a school, as a sales representative for a beauty brand, or even as a board of cosmetology inspector.

When do cosmetologists work?

While in the past most cosmetologist worked Tuesday through Saturday in the salon, today is a different era. Cosmetologists can be employed through a privately owned salon, following a part time or full time schedule most days of the week.  Some cosmetologists will work self-employed, as a salon owner, or renting a space or a “booth” to work.   Being self-employed, cosmetologists can make their own work schedule.  You get to choose when you work.  This is one of the perks a lot of people enjoy about being a cosmetologist. Being your own boss!!!

How does one become a cosmetologist?

If you think you may want to become a cosmetologist, let’s look at what you will need to do. First, we will start with admission to a cosmetology schools.   The cost of a cosmetology tuition runs the gamete, with state schools traditionally being less that privately owned schools. Remember to inquire about scholarships or grants!  Next, most cosmetology schools will require you to be at least 16 years of age and have proof of completion of 10th grade, a high school diploma, or a GED for enrollment into their cosmetology school. Some schools require a pre-admission exam. In cosmetology school you will be taught all areas of basic cosmetology, that align your state board of cosmetology’s requirements for schools and curriculum. Currently, the number of hours required by each state varies, from 1000 hours to 1800, with most states requiring is 1500 hours.

Upon completion of your state’s required hours attended in school, you will be ready to test for your theory and practical examination.  Most states will require you to send a record of completion from your attending cosmetology school along with your state’s requirements.   Most states require you to pass the theory portion of the examination first, before you are able to schedule a date for the practical examination.  The average number of question on the exam is 110, and it is on average timed at 90 minutes.   Most states require a 70 to pass. The tests are in multiple choice format.  Areas of the theory examination that are frequently tested on, but are not limited to are:
  • sanitation
  • infection control
  • salon ownership
  • anatomy and physiology
  • nail structure
  • skin structure
  • trichology
  • haircutting
  • facials
  • chemical services 
Upon passing your theory examination, you will schedule your practical examination. Please check your state guidelines on scheduling an exam. There are state specific rules on the amount of time you have to schedule your practical examination.  Most states require a practical examination which means you perform both live and some mock cosmetology services.  Each segment is timed, and there are very specific guidelines on what you need to bring to your practical examination to perform these services, and how you need to perform the services. Check your state board website for the practical candidate information. Each state has different services on their practical examination, so be sure to check with your state’s requirements. The most common services performed at state board practical examinations today are:
  • haircut
  • thermal style
  • demonstration of marcel iron
  • color application
  • chemical relaxer
  • permanent wave
  • facial
  • manicure
  • blood spill procedure scenario
 Upon passing your practical and theory examination,  you will be issued a cosmetology license. Your name will be added to the state registry of licensed cosmetologists, this information is used to verify licensure for various reasons, most often potential employers.    
 All states require  renewal of your cosmetology license,  be sure to check with your state’s regulations and guidelines, by visiting your state’s board of cosmetology.  Some examples of cosmetology license renewals require the licensee to mail their state board of cosmetology proof of attending a state approved continuing education course, often referred to as a CEU, in addition to a license renewal fee.  Some states require a license renewal fee only.  Most states require license renewal every odd numbered year at the end of your birth month.    

Quality starts with who wrote the material.
Our practice exam writer
Jennifer Gervais
is a cosmetology instructor at The Salon Professional Academy in Huntsville, Alabama. Prior to TSPA, Jenn was a cosmetology instructor at Virginia College. Jenn has been a practicing cosemtologist for over 20 years.

Gabriela Feria
is a cosmetology instructor at the Western Beauty Academy in Los Angeles, California. Gabriela has also taught cosmetology at the Los Angeles School District and prepared cosmetology students for the state cosmetology exam. She has been working in the cosmetology industry for over 20 years.