How Do I Become a Licensed Cosmetologist?

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Students practicing cutting hair on mannequins

Most people we talk to know you have to go to school to become a cosmetologist in NC, but if you have ever asked yourself, “how do I get my cosmetology license?”, this article can provide the specific process in North Carolina. We’ll describe how it works at Alexander Paul Institute of Hair Design.

1. Complete an Approved Cosmetology Program

If you don’t already have a license in another state, you must first enroll in a Cosmetology Program at a school like ours that is approved to offer a Cosmetology Program by the North Carolina State Board of Cosmetic Art Examiners, the agency which oversees Cosmetology in NC and is commonly referred to as “State Board”.

Students in the Beginner Department preparing formal styles and makeup

The Cosmetology Program at Alexander Paul Institute of Hair Design takes approximately 11 months to complete. During that 11 months, our students learn cosmetology theory in the classroom and practice the skills they learn in the classroom for 8-9 months in our advanced student salon, which prepares them for real salon life.

Once you complete an approved program like ours, you can apply for a temporary license and apply to take your state exams (see below).

2. Apply for and Receive Your Temporary Permit

In North Carolina, we are lucky to have the ability to get a temporary permit to work in a salon or other beauty establishment.

After completing our Cosmetology Program and the proper paperwork, our students can apply to receive a temporary permit for only $5 to the State Board. It usually arrives within 2 weeks, allowing you to get to work almost immediately.

Using this temporary permit, you can work for up to 6 months after graduation under the supervision of a licensed cosmetologist. It allows graduates to be able to work (and make money!) while they are preparing to take their exams.

3. Pass Your Written and Practical Exam

After completing the Cosmetology Program, you still must pass a written and a practical exam administered by the State Board and their testing agency.

Students typically apply online and choose their preferred date and time after graduation. We recommend that you take your written and practical exams on different days.

In fact, you can even take your written exam before you graduate! Once you pass 1,000 hours of our 1,500 hour Cosmetology Program, you can apply to take your written, although we recommend you wait until you finish the text book around 1,200 hours.

The written exam is taken on a computer at a testing center, usually in Raleigh, NC. The practical exam also usually occurs in Raleigh, NC and takes place in a room with other graduates. During school, you practice and prepare for our 2 Mock State Board Practical Exams, where we exactly mimic the exam down to the word-for-word directions given in the exam.

To prepare for the written exam, you have access to online exercises and quizzes for 2 years after your start date from our text company. You also take exams after each unit to prepare you. In addition, you take a Final Written Exam that helps prepare you for the comprehensive written exam.

Students During One of Their Mock Practical Exams

Our Current Licensure Rate or Exam Passage Rate is 100%!! (Measured according to the rules of our accreditor, NACCAS)

4. Receive Your License

Once you pass your exams, you will receive directions to fill out paperwork to receive your license. If all paperwork is completed properly, you can usually receive your license within 2 weeks in the mail.

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