What is Electrolysis Hair Removal?

Electrolysis remains the only method of permanent hair removal approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), making it a popular—and often profitable—offering at spas and salons.

Although personal care professionals may focus their careers solely on electrolysis, many times estheticians and cosmetologists seek an electrologist license in addition to other professional licenses as a way to broaden their professional expertise and secure new clients.

Electrolysis: The Only Proven Method for Permanent Hair Removal

Heredity, hormones, and metabolic disorders may contribute to excess facial and body hair on men and women. Although there are countless methods for removing unwanted hair, electrolysis is the only recognized and government-approved method for permanent hair removal.

Electrolysis involves inserting a fine, sterile probe into the natural opening of the hair follicle. The probe sends a small, electric current to the area, thus destroying the follicle’s ability to regenerate and grow.

To safely perform electrolysis (and earn state licensure, in many states), aspiring electrologists must complete a course of study in electrology, which involves, among other things, learning about the three modalities of electrolysis – galvanic (chemical process), thermolysis (short-wave heat process), and a blended modality of the two. Depending on a client’s needs, electrologists may use chemical energy, heat energy, or both.

Electrolysis Hair Removal Training Program Options

Individuals interested in becoming an electrologist must meet state licensing requirements governing the practice of electrolysis hair removal in the state in which they plan to offer their services. This starts by completing a training program or apprenticeship approved by their state board of cosmetology or other regulatory board.

Many schools that offer electrolysis training hold accreditation through a regional accrediting agency and/or one of the following:

States either approve all schools accredited by a particular accrediting agency or maintain a list of approved schools. Most boards maintain a list of approved schools of electrology on their website.

Although the curriculum of an electrolysis program often differs from one program to the next, the American Electrology Association recognizes that an electrolysis program must provide graduates with the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform their duties safely and reliably. The American Electrology Association states that all electrolysis schools should—at a minimum—prepare students with:

  • Knowledge related to the specific tasks of electrology
  • Knowledge, skills, and attitudes developed in clinical experiences
  • Knowledge in interpersonal and communications skills
  • Knowledge in areas regarding ethics, law, and business essential to the electrolysis professional

The curriculum of an electrolysis program often includes study in:

  • Basic sciences (anatomy and physiology, histology, cytology, dermatology, basic biochemistry, etc.)
  • Microbiology (disinfection, sterilization, personal hygiene, aseptic techniques, etc.)
  • Immunology
  • Basic principles of electricity
  • Modalities of electrology
  • Electrology techniques and variables
  • Operation, care, and maintenance of electrolysis equipment
  • Psychology (interpersonal skills, case history documentation, ergonomics, etc.)
  • Professional electrologist considerations (ethical issues, legal issues, professional standards, etc.)

How to Become an Electrologist: Taking a Look at Licensing Requirements in Each State

The only constant among states requiring electrologist licenses is that there is no constant!

While some states require electrologist license candidates to complete just 400 hours of training and education, some states require as many as 1,000 hours or more of formal training before issuing a license.

Some states allow candidates to complete an apprenticeship, which involves on-site training under the close supervision of a licensed electrologist, in lieu of a formal electrolysis program through a school of cosmetology. In some states, an apprenticeship of this kind is actually required in order to become licensed.

Some states regulate and license electrologists through their cosmetology board, while other states license them through the department of health or department of medical examiners, among others. Still, other states have their own board of electrolysis examiners dedicated only to licensing qualified electrologists.

Lastly, some states do no license electrologists at all. In states without formal licensing requirements, estheticians and cosmetologists would undergo voluntary training to become familiar with equipment, methodologies and safety protocols associated with electrolysis hair removal.

Confused yet? You’re not alone! We have provided the following guide to help you quickly identify your state’s requirements for electrolysis licensure so you can begin exploring your options for a career in electrolysis:

To date, only these 18 states have no formal licensing requirements in place for electrologists:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Georgia
  • Kentucky
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming

To date, 32 states and the District of Columbia have specific licensing requirements in place for electrologists as described below:

Arkansas:

  • Licensing board: Arkansas Department of Health, Board of Cosmetology
  • Minimum age/educational level: 18 years; high school or equivalent
  • Minimum electrology program hour requirement: 600 hours or 350 hours if candidate possesses an Arkansas cosmetology license
  • Examination requirement: yes

California

  • Licensing board: California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology
  • Minimum age/educational level: 17 years; high school or equivalent
  • Minimum electrology program hour requirement: 600 hours or two-year apprenticeship
  • Examination requirement: yes

Connecticut

Delaware

  • Licensing board: Delaware Board of Cosmetology and Barbering
  • Minimum age/educational level: 16 years; tenth grade or equivalent
  • Minimum electrology program hour requirement: 300 hours or 600 hour apprenticeship
  • Examination requirement: yes

District of Columbia

Florida

Hawaii

Idaho

  • Licensing board: Idaho Bureau of Occupational Licenses
  • Minimum age/educational level: 16 ½ years; two years high school or equivalent
  • Minimum electrology program hour requirement: 500 hours and 300 hours in skincare, or 1,600-hour apprenticeship
  • Examination requirement: yes

Illinois

Indiana

  • Licensing board: Indiana Professional Licensing Agency
  • Minimum age/educational level: 18 years/high school diploma or equivalent
  • Minimum electrology program hour requirement: 1,500-hour beauty culture course or 700-hour esthetics course, plus 300-hour electrology course
  • Examination requirement: yes

 

Iowa

  • Licensing board: Iowa Department of Public Health
  • Minimum age/educational level: high school diploma or GED
  • Minimum electrology program hour requirement: 425 hours
  • Examination requirement: no

Kansas

  • Licensing board: Kansas State Board of Cosmetology
  • Minimum age/educational level: 17 years/high school diploma or equivalent
  • Minimum electrology program hour requirement: 500 hours or 1,000-hour apprenticeship
  • Examination requirement: yes

Louisiana

  • Licensing board: Louisiana State Board of Electrolysis Examiners
  • Minimum age/educational level: 18 years/high school diploma or equivalent
  • Minimum electrology program hour requirement: 600 hours or 600-hour apprenticeship
  • Examination requirement: yes

Maine

Maryland

Massachusetts

  • Licensing board: Board of Registration of Electrologists
  • Minimum age/educational level: 18 years; high school diploma or equivalent
  • Minimum electrology program hour requirement: 1,100 hours
  • Examination requirement: yes

Michigan

Montana

  • Licensing board: Montana Board of Barbers and Cosmetologists
  • Minimum age/educational level: 18 years/high school diploma or equivalent
  • Minimum electrology program hour requirement: 600 hours
  • Examination requirement: yes

Nebraska

Nevada

  • Licensing board: Nevada State Board of Cosmetology
  • Minimum age/educational level: 18 years/ high school or equivalent
  • Minimum electrology program hour requirement: 500 hours or 1,000-hour apprenticeship
  • Examination requirement: yes

New Hampshire

New Jersey

New Mexico

North Carolina

North Dakota

  • Licensing board: North Dakota Department of Health
  • Minimum age/educational level: 18 years/high school or equivalent
  • Minimum electrology program hour requirement: 600 hours
  • Examination requirement: no

Ohio

  • Licensing board: Ohio State Medical Board
  • Minimum age/educational level: 18 years/high school diploma or equivalent
  • Minimum electrology program hour requirement: 750 hours
  • Examination requirement: yes

Oklahoma

Oregon

  • Licensing board: Oregon Health Licensing Agency
  • Minimum age/educational level: 18 years/high school diploma or equivalent
  • Minimum electrology program hour requirement: 600 hours
  • Examination requirement: yes

Rhode Island

  • Licensing board: Rhode Island Board of Examiners of Electrolysis
  • Minimum age/educational level: 18 years/high school diploma or equivalent
  • Minimum electrology program hour requirement: 650-hour apprenticeship
  • Examination requirement: yes

Tennessee

  • Licensing board: Tennessee Health Related Board
  • Minimum age/educational level: 18 years/ high school diploma or equivalent
  • Minimum electrology program hour requirement: 600 hours and 23 hours in approved subjects
  • Examination requirement: yes

Utah

Vermont

  • Licensing board: Vermont Office of Professional Regulation
  • Minimum age/educational level: 18 years/high school diploma or equivalent
  • Minimum electrology program hour requirement: 600 hours
  • Examination requirement: yes

Wisconsin

State Licensing Exam Requirements and the Certified Professional Electrologist (CPE) Credential

State Licensing Exam – Among the states that license electrologists, most require candidates to successfully complete a state licensing examination to demonstrate knowledge and competencies in key areas. This means the exam consists of both written and practical portions related to the practice of electrology, as well as to public health and safety.

States that require an exam use the International Board of Electrologist Certification (IBEC) state licensing exams sponsored by the American Electrology Association.

Candidates can register for the IBEC state licensing exam through Prometric.

Certified Professional Electrologist (CPE) Exam – In states that do not have licensing requirements for electrologists, many practitioners still choose to take the Certified Professional Electrologist (CPE) exam voluntarily as a way to add the CPE credential to their resume and set themselves apart from others in the profession.

Those that pass the state licensing exam required to offer permanent hair removal services in their state also often go on to take the CPE exam voluntarily.

The CPE exam test candidates’ knowledge of the following content:

  • Anatomy and physiology of the skin and hair
  • Infection control
  • Clinical observations
  • Electrical operations
  • Equipment and supplies
  • Professional, ethical, and legal considerations

The CPE credential is issued for five years. Electrologists holding the credential must accrue at least 75 contact hours of continuing education through approved lectures, seminars, home study, courses, etc. during this time or retake the exam at the end of their five-year certification period.

Candidates can register for the IBEC CPE exam through Prometric.

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