How to Become a Cosmetologist in Illinois

The state of Illinois has some of the highest employment rates for cosmetologists. In 2013, there were 16,820 cosmetologists employed in the state! Illinois is also in one of the highest tiers in terms of average annual salaries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Your first step toward becoming a licensed cosmetologist in Illinois is getting to know the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, which is the state organization that oversees professional licensure, including the cosmetology license.

Follow these easy steps to learn how to become a licensed cosmetologist in Illinois:

Graduate from Cosmetology School
Pass the Illinois Written Exam
Submit Licensure Application
Continue Education to Renew Licensure
Life After Licensure in Illinois



Step 1. Graduate from Cosmetology School

Attending cosmetology school is a fun way to learn the required skills for an exciting career in the health and beauty industry. You will need to choose a cosmetology school that is approved and licensed by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. This program should include 1500 hours of study, which is taken over at least eight (8) months and no more than seven (7) years.

A list of approved schools and codes are located on the licensure application. They may be found online, as well as in the following cities:

  • Addison
  • Arlington Heights
  • Aurora
  • Belleville
  • Berwyn
  • Bloomingdale
  • Blue Island
  • Bourbonnais
  • Chicago
  • Darien
  • Freeport
  • Morris
  • Quincy
  • Peoria

Many of these schools offer both theoretical trainings and hands-on training with flexible schedules. When enrolling in these schools, you can expect to take courses in:

  • Sassoon Cutting and Coloring
  • Basic and Advance Make-Up
  • Hair Extensions and Braiding
  • Chemical Relaxing and Texture
  • Long Hair Design Systems
  • Nail Techniques
  • Salon Business, Marketing, and Managing

Along with this, many schools offer advanced courses that you could take for continuing education. Achieving higher levels of education generally allows you to achieve a higher earning potential—not to mention that being in the know on the latest, cutting-edge beauty trends will make both your clients and your employers happy!



Step 2. Pass the Illinois Written Exam

The next step is passing the Illinois exam, which is administered by Continental Testing Services. The exam is located at all testing venues as a computerized, written exam.

CTS offers many different exams, so to find the cosmetology exam, follow the link for the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation Exams, and choose 011, Licensed Cosmetologist.

In order to apply for the exam, you will need to complete the following steps:

After CTS approves your application, you will be able to schedule the exam with any PSI Testing Center. You can schedule over the phone by calling 1-800-733-9267, or you can schedule online at (you will find step-by-step instructions on how to schedule online or over the phone in the exam study guide). You must schedule at least two business days prior to taking the exam.

On-site proctoring locations in and around Illinois include the following locations:

  • Chicago
  • Springfield
  • Carbondale
  • Champaign
  • East Peoria
  • Evansville
  • Galesburg
  • Glen Ellyn

Passing this exam is essential to applying for licensure. You will need to provide your passing scores along with your application for licensure.



Step 3. Submit Licensure Application

After you have taken and passed the Illinois exam, you can take the final step to complete your application for licensure. To do this, you must be at least 16 years old, have passed compulsory school, and have the following:

  • Filled out Licensure Application
  • Approved Cosmetology School Diploma
  • Official Exam Scores

Aside from applying for licensure based on examination, you may apply for licensure based on your endorsements. If you have ever been licensed in another state or jurisdiction and you are applying for licensure by endorsement, you must submit the following materials as well:

  • Certification by Licensing Agency/Board (CT) document
  • Verification of Employment/Experience (VE-COB) by three (3) different individuals

You will be submit the materials online, or mail all materials to the Department at the following address:

Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation
ATTN: Division of Professional Regulation
P.O. Box 7007
Springfield, IL 62791



Step 4. Continue Education to Renew Licensure

You will need to complete at least fourteen (14) hours of continuing education within the two (2) year renewal period in order to renew your license. The renewal period is September 30th of each odd year. The Board requires that continuing education is Board-approved, and a list of approved sponsors can be found on the website.

Although continuing education is required, it is also tons of fun. Taking courses will keep you updated on the latest beauty trends and techniques, and you will be able to impress your friends and employers with your cutting-edge knowledge of beauty and hairstyling.

You will want to make sure to keep a long, accurate, and detailed record of your continuing education courses, for the Department can conduct random audits, asking certain stylists for their records. To be able to respond appropriately, you will want to have the course titles, dates, credit hours, and any certificates of completion handy.



Step 5. Life After Licensure in Illinois

After you attain licensure, you will finally get to begin your exciting and rewarding career as a hairstylist! There are many salons throughout Illinois to which you could apply for employment, and some of the top salons include:

  • Xeno Salon and Day Spa – Rockford
  • Five Senses Spa and Salon – Peoria
  • Touché Salon – Libertyville
  • Natural Concepts Salon – Peoria
  • The Circle Salon – Chicago
  • Maxine Salon – Chicago
  • Red 7 Salon – Chicago
  • Taylor Reese – Chicago

Oftentimes, you will find that your salon may contribute continuing education to the staff in order to keep their skills clear and refined, helping you to improve both as individuals and as cosmetologists.

You may also become a member of Cosmetologists Illinois (CI), which is an independent association of professionals that offers exciting opportunities to achieve scholarships and continuing education, as well as the opportunity to attend fun local events, connecting with other cosmetologists in your area.

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