How to Become a Cosmetologist in Colorado

If you want to explore career opportunities as a licensed cosmetologist in Colorado, you must be prepared to successfully complete the steps set by the Colorado Office of Barber and Cosmetology Licensure:

Enter Zip:
Complete a Cosmetology Program
Complete the Licensure by Examination Application and Schedule the Practical Examination
Take the Practical and Written Examinations
Keep your Colorado Cosmetology License Current

You know the names: Vail, Telluride, Breckenridge, Snowmass, and Keystone (just to name a few). Although many people think of the powdery white peaks of these Colorado destinations, perhaps just as many appreciate them for their fine cuisine, upscale shopping and, of course, their luxury spas and salons.

These Colorado ski resorts serve as key, economic drivers for the state and are certainly one of the reasons why salon industry sales in Colorado topped $669 million in 2013. In fact, between 2000 and 2010, the number of salon industry jobs in Colorado increased 26 percent. Compare this to total private industry employment in the state, which declined 3 percent during the same period.



Step 1. Complete a Cosmetology Program

Unlike other states that recognize the completion of specific training hours for licensure, Colorado recognizes credit hours for licensure. If you want to become a full cosmetologist in Colorado and enjoy the freedom and flexibility to perform a wide array of treatments and services, you must first complete a cosmetology program that consists of at least 60 credit hours.

Typically, a program that is 60 credits hours in length results in an associate (A.S., A.A.S.) degree,.

Cosmetology in Colorado is recognized as the licensed practice of:

  • Hair coloring, arranging, dressing, waving, cutting, bleaching, etc.
  • Manicuring or pedicuring the nails
  • Giving facials, applying makeup, applying eyelashes, and giving skincare
  • Beautifying through the use of tonics, lotions, cosmetic preparations, etc.
  • Massaging, cleaning, or stimulating the neck, arms, face, torso, or bust

You may also focus your cosmetology career on a specific area by completing the required credit hours for licensure as a:

  • Esthetician: 20 credit hours
  • Manicurist: 20 credit hours
  • Hairstylist: 40 credit hours

A dedicated program in one of these specialties may take just a few months to complete, thereby allowing you to become licensed and working in no time.

The Colorado Office of Barber and Cosmetology recognizes cosmetology programs offered through the following organizations:



Step 2. Complete the Licensure by Examination Application and Schedule the Practical Examination

Before you can apply to take the cosmetology examinations in Colorado, which consists of both a written and practical examination, you must be at least 16 years old, and you must have completed the required credit hours for licensure.

Once you have completed your formal cosmetology program, you must complete a Licensure by Examination Application. Your application must be approved before you can schedule your examinations. The application process is completed through the Colorado Cosmetology Licensure Portal, which is part of PSI, the third-party testing agency contracted by the Colorado Office of Cosmetology and Barbering to handle the cosmetology examinations.

Once you have completed the online application (You can upload any required documentation through the system.), you must pay the $27 application fee to complete the process. Any questions regarding the application process can be directed to: [email protected] or at 1-855-229-9302.

Within 48 hours after sending your application, you will be notified of the approval of your application, via email, and sent a confirmation notice. Once you have received the notice, you are responsible for contacting PSI at or at 1-800-733-9267 to pay for and schedule the practical examination. The cost of taking the practical examination is $71.



Step 3. Take the Practical and Written Examinations

PSI provides a number of testing centers throughout Colorado for taking the practical examination, including:

  • Colorado Springs
  • Grand Junction
  • Durango

You can expect the practical examination to last about 2 hours and 20 minutes.

Once you have received word from PSI that you passed the practical examination, you may schedule and pay for the written examination through PSI ( or at 1-800-733-9267). The cost of the written examination is $56.

You may take the written examination in a number of Colorado locations, including:

  • Colorado Springs
  • Grand Junction
  • Durango
  • Pueblo
  • Farmington, New Mexico
  • Las Cruces, New Mexico
  • Roswell, New Mexico
  • Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Hurricane, Utah
  • North Orem (Provo), Utah
  • North Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Albuquerque, New Mexico

You can expect the written examination to last about 2 hours.

You have one year, from your application date, to pass both portions of the cosmetology examination. After one year, your application will expire and you will be required to submit the application and pay the application fee again.

Upon successfully completing both examinations, you will immediately receive a notification that contains a wall license and a photo-bearing pocket card.



Step 4. Keep your Colorado Cosmetology License Current

All cosmetologist licenses in Colorado expire biennially on April 30. Your license may expire on an odd-numbered year or an even-numbered year, depending upon the issue date of your license. You must keep your license current through renewal in order to continue legally practicing in Colorado.

Although there are no continuing education requirements to maintain your cosmetology license, you will likely seek out frequent training and education opportunities as a way to keep your skills up-to-date and stay current regarding the latest trends in hairstyling, manicuring, skincare, and makeup.

Further, if you have aspirations of operating your own salon in Colorado, you will likely want to pursue additional courses in business management, marketing, computers, etc.

Although bachelor degrees in cosmetology are generally not offered, many cosmetologists choose to complete a four-year degree in programs such as health and beauty management or salon and spa management.

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