How to Become a Cosmetologist in Indiana

A career in cosmetology is fun, exciting, and— according to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development (IDWD) research analysis—stable! Not only are there already 7,000 licensed cosmetologists in Indiana according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but the IDWD research estimates a 15.2% increase in job openings for hairstylists, hairdressers, and cosmetologists in the state through the year 2020.

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The State Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners is the licensing agency that will ensure you meet qualification and issue you a cosmetology licensure.

In order to start your rewarding practice as a licensed cosmetologist, you need only follow a few simple steps.

Attend Cosmetology School
Pass the Written Exam
Complete Licensure Application
Renew Licensure
Now that you’re Licensed, Get to Work



Step 1. Attend Cosmetology School

Cosmetology school is a fun and exciting way to learn the skills necessary to be successful in your cosmetology career. Your school must involve at least 1500 hours of education, and you must apply for licensure within the three (3) years immediately following your graduation.

These beauty schools will include both theoretical and practical teaching, where you get hands-on experience learning the latest, and most up-to-date beauty and hair trends, taking courses such as:

  • History of Aromaology
  • Therapeutic Effects
  • Custom Testing and Blending
  • Hair Trichology
  • Hair Coloring
  • Color Theory
  • Classifications of Hair Color
  • Trend Techniques
  • One Dimensional
  • Multidimensional
  • Hairstyling
  • Perms/Chemicals
  • Sanitation
  • Indiana State Laws and Rules
  • Shampooing and Product Analysis
  • Scalp Treatments
  • Manicuring
  • Pedicuring
  • Haircutting
  • Management

These courses will prepare you not only to excel as a cosmetologist and please your clients, but they will teach you how to excel as a marketer and manager of your own business.

You will take and pass a final practical examination, which assesses your ability to demonstrate the duties expected from a cosmetologist. This exam should be administered by your school, and you must have record of both taking and passing this practical exam with a score of 75% or higher.



Step 2. Pass the Written Exam

The Indiana State Board of Cosmetology written examination is proctored by the Pearson VUE testing agency.

The exam handbook outlines all of the testing information you will need to know, including testing center locations, how to make exam reservations, what to bring on the exam day, and the exam format. You will want to read the handbook carefully before you take the exam.

The exam will be written and take about 135 minutes, with 110 questions on the following subjects:

  • Safety
  • Sanitation and Disinfection
  • Client Contact
  • Structure of Hair
  • Hair Type
  • Shampoo and Scalp Analysis
  • Styling
  • Haircutting
  • Hair Coloring and Bleaching
  • Permanent Waving
  • Chemical Straightening and Relaxing
  • Esthetics
  • Nails

The Pearson VUE testing centers in Indiana are located in the following Indiana cities—

  • Evansville
  • Fort Wayne
  • Indianapolis
  • Terre Haute
  • Chicago
  • Landing
  • Merrillville

You can make reservations online or by phone, but you are not allowed to take a walk-in exam. For reservations by phone, call (888) 204-6190, and for reservations online, go to There will be a $53 exam fee for the cosmetology exam, which you will pay at the time of scheduling.

The contact information for Pearson VUE is as follows:

Pearson VUE
Attn: Regulatory Program Manager
5601 Green Valley Drive
Bloomington, MN



Step 3. Complete Licensure Application

If you are a first time applicant for licensure, you will apply for licensure based on examination. If you have been licensed before, you may need to apply for licensure based on reciprocity.


Most applicants will apply for licensure by examination. To do this, you must be at least 18 years old, have completed 10th grade, and submit the following documentation—

  • Licensure Application (download and complete the form)
  • $40.00 Application Fee
  • 2×3 Current Photo
  • Official Cosmetology School Diploma or Transcripts
  • Official Written Exam Scores


In order to apply for licensure based on reciprocity, the jurisdiction in which you previously held license must have had similar or higher education and examination standards for licensure.

For example, your previous jurisdiction must have required at least 1500 hours of education and at least a 70% as a passing grade on written and practical licensing exams. If the jurisdiction required 1000 hours, you may substitute one (1) year of licensed practice substituting for only one hundred (100) hours of education.

Along with the materials you would submit for licensure by examination, you will also need to submit certification or verification of your licensure in the separate state or jurisdiction. You must do this for all states in which you have previously held licensure.

If your previous jurisdiction did not issue licensure, you will need to apply for a Provisional Cosmetologist License, work underneath the direct supervision of a licensed cosmetologist, then reapply for full licensure.

All of your documentation for your application for licensure may be sent into the Board at the following address:

Indiana Professional Licensing Agency
Attn: State Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners
402 W. Washington Street, Room W072,
Indianapolis, IN 46204



Step 4. Renew Licensure

To renew your license, either fill-out the renewal form or renew online and submit a $40 fee.

Although continuing education is not required for license renewal in Indiana, many beauty schools offer advanced courses that you may take as continuing education. These courses will keep you up-to-date on the latest beauty trends, keeping you in the know on the fashion of hair and makeup. When you continue your education, you are allowing yourself to provide more services, which will in turn make your clients and your employer more satisfied. As always, higher levels of education and experience often give you a higher earning potential.



Step 5. Now that you’re Licensed, Get to Work

There are many top salons in Indiana where you could look for jobs or rent a chair. A few of the many salons that hire hair experts in Indiana include:

  • G Michael Salon – Indianapolis- Noblesville
  • Deweese Design Salon – Indianapolis
  • Stylist 317 – Indianapolis
  • Kindred | a beauty lounge – Fishers
  • Domu – Chatham Arch Indianapolis
  • GENEVA Hair Studio – Irvington
  • Kiss Kiss Bang Bang Salon – Fishers

Once you are a legally licensed cosmetologist, you may join the Indiana Cosmetology and Barbering Association! With a membership, you will get to engage in fun networking events, educational conferences, and you will be a part of a movement dedicated to empowering cosmetologists.

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