How to Become a Cosmetologist in Florida

As a playground for high rollers and a haven for wealthy retirees, it’s no wonder that Florida’s salon industry raked in $3.4 billion in sales in 2013 alone.

With more than 7,000 salons throughout Florida, you’ll find no shortage of opportunities to express yourself creatively as a licensed cosmetologist. Whether you set up shop in one of the State’s major metropolitan areas, such as Miami or Tampa, or choose to rent a chair in a seaside community like South Beach, you’ll enjoy a steady stream of business as the personal stylist for an affluent clientele.

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The Florida Board of Cosmetology is responsible for regulating and licensing cosmetologists working as hair designers and stylists in the state. To learn how to become a licensed cosmetologist in Florida, follow these five steps:

Complete a Cosmetology Program
Complete a Cosmetology Examination Application
Take and Pass Both Portions of the Florida Cosmetology Examinations
Explore Professional Opportunities in Cosmetology in Florida
Maintain your Florida Cosmetologist License



Step 1. Complete a Cosmetology Program

The first step to becoming a licensed cosmetologist in Florida is to complete a program from a cosmetology school that is at least 1,200 hours in length. The Florida Board of Cosmetology does not regulate cosmetology schools, so it is up to you to ensure that the program you choose results in at least 1,200 hours of training.

A comprehensive cosmetology program in Florida, whether it results in a professional diploma/certificate or an associate degree in cosmetology, is designed to prepare you to offer such services as hair styling, cutting, coloring, bleaching, tinting, etc., as well as manicuring/pedicuring, facials, hair braiding, hair wrapping, and body wrapping.

If you want to focus your cosmetology career on a specific area and you don’t want to complete a full cosmetology program (which allows you to perform all of the above cosmetology services), you may apply for a specialist registration, which includes completing the following through a Florida cosmetology program:

  • Nail specialist: 240 hours of education
  • Facial specialist: 260 hours of education
  • Hair braider: The completion of a 2-day, 16-hour Board of Cosmetology approved hair braiding course*
  • Hair wrapper: The completion of a 1-day, 6-hour Board of Cosmetology approved hair wrapping course*
  • Body wrapper: A 2-day, 12-hour Board of Cosmetology approved body wrapping course*

*You can find a list of approved training courses here.

Note: If you are registered in two or more of the specialties listed above, The Florida Board of Cosmetology will consider you to be a “full specialist” in cosmetology.



Step 2. Complete a Cosmetology Examination Application

Upon completing the 1200 cosmetology training hours required for licensure, you must complete and submit an Application for Initial License Based on Florida Education to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, along with the fee of $78 (made payable to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation).

You may also complete an online application.

Note: You must be at least 16 years old or have received your high school diploma to be eligible for a cosmetologist license in Florida.

As an applicant applying for licensure based on education, you must complete Sections II, IV, and V of the application. The institution through which you obtained your cosmetology education must complete section III.

You can direct any questions regarding the application process to the customer contact center of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation at 1-850-487-1395.



Step 3. Take and Pass Both Portions of the Florida Cosmetology Examinations

Once your application has been approved, you will receive a written notice from Pearson VUE, the vendor chosen by the Department to administer the cosmetology examinations. At that point, you may schedule a date and time for your written cosmetology examination, one of two required examinations for licensure.

You can schedule your examination through Pearson VUE at 1-888-204-6230 or at

Florida cosmetology examination components include:

Written (Theory) Examination: A two-hour examination that includes 65 multiple-choice questions on the following:

  • General Safety and Sanitation Procedures: 34 percent
  • Client Services: 24 percent
  • Facial, Makeup, and Hair Removal: 16 percent
  • Manicuring and Pedicuring: 16 percent
  • Professional, Legal and Ethical, and Laws and Rules: 10 percent

Written Clinical Examination: A two-hour examination consisting of 65 questions on the following:

  • Hair Coloring and Lightening: 39 percent
  • Permanent Waving and Chemical Relaxing; 34 percent
  • Scalp and Hair Care: 5 percent
  • Hair Cutting and Shaping: 10 percent
  • Hair Styling: 12 percent

You may schedule to take the Florida cosmetology examinations at any one of the many Pearson VUE testing centers in Florida, including (but not limited to):

  • Lakeland
  • Orlando
  • Melbourne
  • Sarasota
  • Tampa
  • Fort Myers
  • Ormond Beach
  • Lake Mary
  • Petersburg
  • Hollywood
  • Lauderdale
  • Key West
  • Jacksonville
  • Gainesville

Once you have taken and passed both examinations, Pearson VUE will contact the Department, who will issue you a cosmetologist license in Florida.



Step 4. Explore Professional Opportunities in Cosmetology in Florida

As a licensed cosmetologist in Florida, you may choose to work as an independent contractor, which generally involves renting space at a salon or spa. Many cosmetologists also go on to open their own salons and enjoy the pride of being a business owner. Just some of the trendiest salons in Florida include:

  • Christopher L. Salons: Ft. Lauderdale
  • Peter Mark: Delray Beach
  • Oribe: Miami Beach
  • Roberto Giordano: Miami Beach
  • Rossano Ferretti: Miami Beach
  • The Factory Salon: Ft. Lauderdale
  • Snip: Miami
  • Salon Twist: Seagrove Beach



Step 5. Maintain your Florida Cosmetologist License

All cosmetologist licenses in Florida must be renewed on a biennial basis for a fee of $55. To renew your cosmetologist license, you must also complete at least 16 continuing education units.

You can find a list of approved continuing education providers and courses here.

It is common for some cosmetologists to seek degree programs as a way to fulfill part or all of their continuing education requirements while gaining valuable business skills necessary to become a salon supervisor, a cosmetology instructor, or even a business owner.

Because cosmetology bachelor degrees are generally not offered, many cosmetologists who want to pursue a bachelor’s degree tend to complete programs in areas such as business management or salon and spa management.

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