How to Become a Cosmetologist in Arkansas

Whether you’re nestled among the art galleries of Hot Springs or ideally situated in Little Rock’s vibrant downtown area, being part of the Arkansas salon industry means enjoying success in an industry worth $285 million a year.

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Your cosmetology career is likely to start off strong, thanks to the salon industry’s steady growth in Arkansas. Between 2003 and 2013, salon industry jobs in Arkansas increased 8 percent, compared to the total for private sector jobs in the state, which increased just 1 percent during this time.

To begin your cosmetology career in Arkansas, you must be prepared to complete licensing requirements set by the Arkansas Department of Health Cosmetology Section:

Complete an Approved Cosmetology Program
Apply for a Cosmetologist License in Arkansas
Take and Pass the Practical Examination for a Cosmetologist License
Take and Pass the Written Examination for a Cosmetologist License
Renew Your Arkansas Cosmetologist License



Step 1. Complete an Approved Cosmetology Program

To work as a licensed cosmetologist in Arkansas, you must first complete a Cosmetology Section-approved cosmetology program. Cosmetology programs are designed as a certificate/diploma program or as an associate degree (A.A., A.A.S.). To qualify for licensure, you must complete at least 1,500 hours of formal training.

Approved cosmetology programs may be offered through junior colleges, vocational schools, or dedicated cosmetology schools.

The Cosmetology Section grants cosmetologists with qualifying training the privilege to complete the following job duties:

  • Cleaning, waxing, and massaging the body with or without cosmetic preparations, lotions, or creams
  • Cutting, polishing, coloring, manicuring, trimming and cleansing nails
  • Removing hair from the body using tweezers, depilatories, or other devices
  • Styling, bleaching, coloring, cutting, straightening, dyeing, and treating natural hair, wigs, or hairpieces
  • Utilizing cosmetic preparations, lotions, tonics, and creams to beautify the body

You may also perform electrolysis as a cosmetologist in Arkansas, provided you complete another 350 hours of electrolysis training in addition to the required cosmetology training.

You may also prefer to specialize in a specific area of cosmetology by completing an abbreviated cosmetology program to earn licensure as a dedicated nail technician, esthetician, or electrologist. Programs for a nail technician, esthetician, or electrologist license must offer 600 hours of training.



Step 2. Apply for a Cosmetologist License in Arkansas

Upon the successful completion of an approved cosmetology program, you must apply for a cosmetologist license by completing and submitting an Application for Practitioner Examination form and a Certificate of Training form and submitting the examination fees of $65 for the practical examination.

To qualify for a cosmetologist license in Arkansas, you must be at least 16 years old, and you must have completed at least 2 years of high school. If you want to practice as an electrologist in Arkansas, you must be at least 18 years old and have graduated from high school (or achieved the equivalent).



Step 3. Take and Pass the Practical Examination for a Cosmetologist License

You must take and pass both a written (theory) and practical examination to earn a cosmetologist license in Arkansas. The Arkansas Department of Health Cosmetology Section exclusively utilizes the National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology (NIC) examinations.

Once you have been approved by the Cosmetology Section to take the practical examination, you can expect to be scheduled automatically for the next examination date. From there, you will be issued an Admission Notice for the practice examination about 7 to 10 days before your test date.

The exam location for all practical examinations is: 101 East Capitol Street, Suite 106, Little Rock.

Once you pass the practical examination, you will receive permission to schedule the written examination.



Step 4. Take and Pass the Written Examination for a Cosmetologist License

The Cosmetology Section will determine your eligibility for licensure and will contact you regarding your eligibility to take the written examination. Once you have received word from the Cosmetology Section (via an authorization letter), you may contact PSI Services to schedule your written examination.

You may contact PSI at 1-800-733-9267 and register using the automated registration system. You may also register through the PSI website. You can take the written examination at one of the PSI examination centers located in:

  • Bentonville
  • Fayetteville
  • Harrison
  • Jonesboro
  • North Little Rock

The cost to take the written examination is $60, and you must pay PSI directly. If you fail the written examination, you must contact PSI at 1-800-211-2754 to schedule a retest. A new authorization letter is not required.

When you have passed both the written and the practical examinations, you will automatically receive your Arkansas cosmetology license. You can learn more about preparing for and taking both examinations for licensure by reading the Candidate Information Bulletin.



Step 5. Renew Your Arkansas Cosmetologist License

You can renew your cosmetologist license online through CLIPS: the Arkansas Cosmetology, Licensing, Inspection, and Permit System. All renewals are completed on a biennial basis upon the submission of a $50 renewal fee.

There are currently no continuing education requirements for cosmetologists in Arkansas; however, the pursuit of additional education and training is commonplace among cosmetologists, who must put forth the effort to stay current on the latest trends and advances in cosmetology and the salon industry.

Many cosmetologists in Arkansas go on to open up their own salons, so the completion of an associate or bachelor business degree or a bachelor’s degree in an area such as salon and spa management may be quite beneficial for the success of your business venture. You may also choose to complete specific coursework in business management or marketing as to understand the complexity of managing or operating a salon or spa.

Professional associations, such as the Professional Beauty Association, are often excellent sources of industry information, information regarding the cosmetology profession, and continuing education opportunities.

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