How to Become a Cosmetologist in Idaho

Becoming a cosmetologist in Idaho requires a license through the Idaho Board of Cosmetology, which regulates beauticians and other personal care service professionals in Idaho. The Board defines cosmetology as the cosmetic alteration of hair, nails, and skin.

Enter Zip:

Follow the steps in this guide to learn how to become a licensed cosmetologist in Idaho:

Graduate from Idaho-Approved Cosmetology School
Pass NIC Written and Practical Exams
Apply for Licensure to the Idaho Board
Renew Licensure

As a cosmetologist in Idaho, you’ll get to use your creativity to experiment with the latest styles and trends in hair and makeup. More than 1,400 cosmetologists working as hairstylists, hairdressers, nail care specialists and makeup artists were licensed to provide personal care and beauty services in Idaho as of 2013.

Depending on your level of education and experience, you can earn a salary of between $16,000 and $30,000 a year, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Since tipping is standard in the profession, take-home earnings can be two to three times more than the base salary.



Step 1. Graduate from Idaho-Approved Cosmetology School

For cosmetology specifically, your program must include at least 2000 hours of instruction. When you are filling out your application for licensure, you will need to provide a list of these hours and which services you completed during these hours.

Cosmetologist training programs will prepare you for all facets of a cosmetology career, from hairstyling to marketing yourself as a stylist. Courses in these schools include, but are not limited to, the following topics:

  • History of Hairdressing
  • Theory-Lecture, Dictation, Oration, Demonstration, and Application
  • Anatomy
  • Science
  • Cosmetic Chemistry
  • Fashion Shows
  • Photo Shoots
  • Charity Events
  • Safety and Sanitation
  • Marketing
  • Networking
  • Self Promotion
  • Financial Planning

Many of these schools also offer continuing education, and though continuing education is not required for cosmetologists in Idaho, it is helpful to keep you up-to-date on the latest trends in beauty and hair. The more services you can offer, the more you will appeal to both clients and employers.

The U.S. Department of Education recognizes the National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences (NACCAS) as a national accreditation agency for cosmetology schools. There are five (5) NACCAS accredited cosmetology schools in Idaho.



Step 2. Pass NIC Written and Practical Exams

The National-Interstate Council (NIC) cosmetology exam is offered to Idaho residents through DL Roope Administrations, Inc.

There are two parts to this exam, which include the following:

  • National Cosmetology Written Exam

This exam is one (1) hour and a half long, and it will focus on the theory of cosmetology.

  • National Cosmetology Practical Exam

This exam is about three (3) hours long, and it consists of assessing your practical skills in the following areas:

  • Set up and Client Protection
  • Thermal Curling
  • Haircutting
  • Chemical Waving
  • Virgin Hair Lightening
  • Hair Color Retouch
  • Virgin Relaxer Application
  • Relaxer Retouch
  • Candidate Summary
  • Final Cleanup

You are required to bring your own kit and at least one mannequin head (no more than two (2)). It may be helpful to come to the exam with one mannequin curled prior to the exam.

For further information on the specifics and standards for the exams, download the National Cosmetology Practical Exam Idaho Information Bulletin.

You must get at least a 75% on both exams to pass by Idaho standards.

Applying for the NIC Exam

You should get an application for the national cosmetology practical exam from the licensed school from which you graduated. You must submit the application by the date and time provided on the back of the application.

Otherwise, you can complete the online exam application. To apply online, you will need to download the following forms from the Idaho page of the DL Roope website:

  • ID Paper Application
  • NIC Written Candidate Information Bulletin (CIB)
  • ID Practical Candidate Information Bulletin (CIB)

Once the office receives a complete application, approval is sent to Iso-Quality Testing (IQT) with instructions on how to schedule a written exam. The written and practice exams will be taken at different times, and you should try to schedule them during different weeks, as long as the date is within six (6) months of initial approval.

To see your exam results, you may download them from the website,, or you may indicate on your application that you would like the results by mail. If you download them from the website, be sure to download and print a copy because scores will expire after fourteen (14) days. Your official scores will be sent directly to the board immediately upon grading.



Step 3. Apply for Licensure to the Idaho Board

If you’re a first-time license applicant, you will apply for licensure by examination. If you have ever held a licensure in a different state, you may apply for licensure by endorsement.

Licensure by Examination

To apply, you must be able to prove that you have at least completed 10th grade in high school, and provide the following:

  • Provide copy of driver’s license or birth certificate
  • Provide copy of any legal name change documentation
  • Submit official transcripts from licensed cosmetology school
  • Submit official scores from NIC exam
  • Submit an itemized record of instruction with the total hours of training completed and which services you were trained on
  • Submit application and appropriate fee

The application must be printed, notarized, and mailed to the office with payment. The official address of the Idaho Board is as follows:

Idaho Board of Cosmetology
Idaho Bureau of Occupational Licenses
700 West State Street, PO Box 83720
Boise, ID 83720-0063

Licensure by Endorsement

To apply for licensure by endorsement, you must:

  • Hold a current license in a different state and prove that state standards are equal to Idaho Standards


  • Hold a current license in good standing and have three (3) years of work experience in the past five (5) years.

You will need to make sure that you submit all of the above materials, just as you would for licensure by examination.



Step 4. Renew Licensure

You must submit an application for renewal each year. You may choose to submit a paper renewal form, which will be mailed to you six (6) weeks prior to your license expiration, or you may choose to submit the online renewal form. Along with the application, you will need to submit the appropriate fee.

Although there is no required continuing education credits for licensure renewal, completing continuing education will help you to be up-to-date on the latest trends, styles, and fashions, which will allow you to better relate to your clients and understand their needs.

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