To practice as a hair designer or master cosmetologist, you must hold a Georgia board-issued license. Follow these simple steps to learn how to become a licensed cosmetologist or hair designer in Georgia:
Landing a job in the world of cosmetology lets you use your creativity in your career while tryout out the latest styles and beauty trends. By 2022, the Georgia labor market expects careers for hairdressers, hairstylists, and other cosmetologists to grow by 11.3%.
The Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta metropolitan area is one of the highest rated employment areas in the United States for cosmetologist, with 6,550 stylists calling the area home. Depending on your education and experience, your base salary as a cosmetologist in Georgia may range from $16,000 to almost $40,000 a year without even including tips!
As you pursue a cosmetology career in Georgia, you will want to be familiar with Georgia Board of Cosmetology, which is the Board that regulates professional standards for cosmetologists in the state. The Board recognizes different licenses with separate education and exam requirements for the following career titles: master cosmetologist, hair designer, esthetician, and nail technician.
As a licensed cosmetologist, you will focus on hair, nails, and makeup application. As a licensed hair designer, you will focus solely on hair.
Step 1. Graduate from Beauty School with Training in Cosmetology or Hair Design
Both the cosmetology and hair designer license require you to meet educational standards. The most common way to fulfill educational training is through beauty school. If this cannot be attained for some reason, you may choose the less traditional route of applying for a cosmetology or hair designer apprenticeship license and completing on-the-job training.
Cosmetology and Hair Design School
Cosmetology – You must attend and graduate from a cosmetology school in order to be eligible to take the PSI exam and apply for a cosmetology license. The minimum requirement is at least 1,500 hours of training in a minimum of nine (9) months.
In beauty school, you will take fun, exciting, and cutting-edge courses, which incorporate cosmetology theory with the actual hands-on practice of cosmetology. Courses will teach you services such as,
- Hair Coloring
- Hair Cutting
- Nail Care
- Makeup Application
- Business Development
- Retail Knowledge
Hair Design – If you are pursuing a hair designer license, your requirements are slightly different, and you will need to complete 1325 hours of schooling over at least seven (7) months. Courses would cover:
- Hair Coloring
- Hair Cutting
- Hair Styling
- Hair Braiding
- Hair Extensions
These programs are designed to give you all the tools you need to style hair with cutting-edge knowledge, as well as market yourself well in the fast-paced beauty industry. Many programs even offer continuing education, which will help you stay in the know on the latest styles.
If you choose not to take the traditional route of attending beauty school, you may work as a licensed apprentice. To do so, you must be at least 17 years old, submit a cosmetology apprentice application, and complete on-the-job training under the direct supervision of a licensed master cosmetologist or hair designer with at least thirty-six (36) months of experience.
If you choose this route as a cosmetologist, you must complete 3,000 hours and a minimum of 18 months of training in order to apply for examination. Along with this, you will need to keep record of your hours and training daily, as well as complete the appropriate training form.
If you choose this route as a candidate for hair design apprentice licensure, you will need to complete at least 2,650 hours of training spanning at least 14 months of training time, and complete this hair designer apprentice training form.
Step 2. Take and Pass PSI Exams
PSI is the only administration for the Master Cosmetologist or Hair Designer exam in Georgia. Once you are eligible, you will contact PSI directly to take the exam.
You will take the Master Cosmetology Exam, which is made up of two portions:
- Master Cosmetology Practical Exam (140 minutes)
This exam cannot be taken on computer, by paper, or by pencil. This is an exam that assesses your clinical and practical skills by having you complete them in person.
- NIC Cosmetology Theory Exam (90 minutes)
This exam may be taken online.
Hair Designer Exam
The Georgia Hair Design Exam is made up of two portions, as well, and it is similar in design to the Cosmetology Exam:
- Hair Design Practical Exam (110 minutes)
- NIC Hair Design Theory Exam (90 minutes)
The tests may be administered in the following Georgia cities:
- Atlanta, GA
- Macon, GA
- Tifton, GA
Together, both portions cost $109.00 as an exam fee. Separately, the Practical exam fee is $64.00 and the theory exam is $45.00. You must pass both parts of the exam before you apply.
Step 3. Submit Application to the Georgia Board of Cosmetology
Once you have completed the educational and examination requirements, you may move on to submitting your cosmetology licensure application.
Master Cosmetologist and Hair Design Application
You may apply for licensure online, or by printing the application form below and submitting the following material:
- Citizenship Verification
- Submit Application for Initial Licensure
- Submit Application Fee of $30.00
You may complete the application and send it through the mail to the following address:
Georgia State Board of Cosmetology
237 Coliseum Drive
Macon, Georgia 31217
To complete the apprentice application, submit the following documentation:
- Apprentice Application
- Submit $45 application fee
- Submit copy of current licensed shop and master cosmetology or hair designer license from employer
It will be your responsibility, once you have completed the required hours of training, to obtain and submit an application for examination and licensure. You may only renew this licensure one (1) time before you must apply for Master Cosmetology or Hair Design licensure.
If you want to apply for licensure through reciprocity—that is, based upon your licensure in a different state or country—you will need to provide verification of having fulfilled similar training and licensing requirements. Once you provide your documentation, the case will go before the Board for approval or denial. The Board has very strict reciprocity standards, and it does not allow reciprocity from the following states:
- California (unless licensed after May 2009)
- District of Columbia
- Florida (unless licensed before August 1986)
- Illinois (unless licensed before December 1984)
- Nebraska (unless licensed before 2004)
- New York (unless licensed before June 2001)
- Puerto Rico
- Rhode Island
- The Virgin Islands
Because of the strict reciprocity code, it may be easier for you to fulfill the educational and examination requirements provided by the Georgia State Board.
Step 4. Complete Continuing Education to Renew Licensure
The license for master cosmetologists expires on March 31 of even numbered years, and the license for hair designers expires on September 30th of even numbered years.
As one who holds a cosmetology or hair designer license in Georgia, you must complete five (5) hours of continuing education during each two (2) year renewal period, including the following:
- Three (3) credit hours in TCSG Health and Safety
- Two (2) credit hours of any elective
You must fulfill your requirements at a Georgia Board-approved continuing education provider. It is up to you to make sure the course provider is Board-approved, and the Board website keeps a current list of registered providers. As of 2014, Board-approved providers in and near Georgia include, but are not limited to, the following:
- 360 Training – Austin, Texas
- Advanced Skincare Academy & Wellness Spa – Stone Mountain, Georgia
- All Star Training – Addison, Texas
- American Safety Council – Orlando, Florida
- American Shea Butter Institute – Columbus, Georgia
- ASM Beauty World Academy – Davie, Florida
- Atlanta’s Beauty and Barber Academy – Doraville, Georgia
- Atlanta Institute of Aesthetics – Atlanta, Georgia
- Atlanta Natural Hair Care – Atlanta, Georgia
- Cheryl Denise Wynn – Atlanta, Georgia
- BL Reese Distributor – Atlanta, Georgia
- Bronner Brothers – Marietta, Georgia
You may contact the Board at 478-207-2440 if you are unsure about a provider you would like to choose.
Completing continuing education will not only help you fulfill licensure renewal requirements, but it will push you further in your career by allowing you how to provide more services and explain the latest beauty trends.
Step 5. Find Work as a Cosmetologist or Hair Designer Licensed in Georgia
Since the metropolitan areas of Georgia are diverse, you will be able to use a wide range of techniques and products with your clients.
Some of the top salons in Georgia where you might find work or rent a chair include:
Van Michael Salon—This is a full-service Aveda concept salon ranking first in Atlanta in the following categories:
- Best Salon
- Best Hair Color
- Best Hair Cut
- Best Blow Dry
- Best Makeup
- Best Wedding Hair Specialists
Sören Salon – This salon is located in Atlanta and was named one of the top 100 US salons.
Salon Bella Dama – Located in Atlanta, this salon hires top hair stylists who focus on the fashion aspects of hairstyling.
L’Panache Threading and Hair Salon – located in Sandy Springs, this salon focuses on welcoming the entire family for services.