How to Become a Cosmetologist in Kentucky

To attain a regular cosmetologist license, you must first attain an apprentice cosmetologist license. Follow these easy steps to learn how to become a fully licensed regular cosmetologist in Kentucky:

Enter Zip:
Graduate from Cosmetology School
Pass Apprentice Exams & Receive Apprentice Licensure
Pass Regular Cosmetology Exam & Receive Regular Licensure
Renew Licensure

As a cosmetologist, you will get to spend your workweek creatively working with the latest and most cutting-edge fashion and beauty trends. In fact, being a cosmetologist on the cutting edge of the latest trends is so valuable that some employers will even pay for you to attend fashion shows as part of your employee benefits package!

Not only is working as a cosmetologist fun—but in Kentucky, it is stable! The Kentucky Occupational Outlook states its expectation that cosmetology is expected to grow by 15.51% between 2010 and 2020, meaning that there should be 210 new cosmetology openings per year! Employers in Kentucky are constantly looking for new stylists, and that combined with a generous salary plus tips, great benefits, and the ability to spend all day every day doing something you love makes becoming a cosmetologist a great career move.

As a cosmetologist, you will be working primarily with hair, skin, and nails. The Kentucky Board of Hairdressers and Cosmetologists notes that a cosmetologist is considered different than the specializations of esthetician or nail technician, which have different education and examination requirements.



Step 1. Graduate from Cosmetology School

The first step in pursuing your cosmetology license is attending cosmetology school, but don’t worry! Cosmetology school is fun, exciting, and rewarding, and it is a great way to learn the skills you will need to be completely knowledgeable, up to date on the latest fashion and beauty trends, and able to manage the business side of the job.

You will attend a Board-approved cosmetology school to complete this requirement. In these schools, you will take courses such as—

  • Draping
  • Shampooing and Rinsing
  • Bacteriology
  • Properties of Hair and Scalp
  • Hair Coloring
  • Permanent Waving
  • Artistry in Hairstyling
  • Manicuring and Pedicuring
  • Sanitation and Safety
  • Kentucky Law

These courses will include both theory and hands-on practice, giving you the best support and setting you up for success for the exams. Once you complete the required 1800 hours of beauty school, you are eligible to apply for an apprentice cosmetology license. To do this, you will submit the examination application that your beauty school gives you, and you must successfully complete the written and practical exam.



Step 2. Pass the Apprentice Written and Practical Exam

The second step is completing the apprentice cosmetologist written and practical exam. You will be issued an application for this exam by your beauty school, but if you need another one, find the application here. With this application, you will need to submit a $75 application fee and proof of your high school diploma. In short, to take this exam, you must be at least 16 years old and have met the following qualifications:

  • Complete Application
  • Pay fees
  • Attain high school diploma
  • Completed 1800 hours of education at a Board-approved school

Practical Exam

For the practical exam, you will be required to bring your own kit with sufficient supplies, including draping materials, a container of water, you r mannequin head(s) and hand(s), etc. The chemicals for waving, hair lightening, coloring, and relaxing will be simulated.

You will be given ten (10) minutes for client protection and setup at the beginning of the exam, then 2 minutes to set up the supplies for each section in between sections. The full exam will cover the following practical skills—

  • Set up and Client Protection
  • Permanent Waving
  • Hair Coloring and Lightening
  • Facial
  • Thermal Curling (Cold Iron)
  • Haircutting
  • Chemical Relaxing
  • Manicuring

A complete list of requirements and instruction may be found in the practical exam instructions.


The written exam will focus on your theoretical knowledge of the very same things, and you will be asked to know the right answers for practical skills, cosmetology rules, laws, and regulations, and ethical skills.

Upon passing the apprentice written and practical exams, your apprentice license will be issued to you!!!

Apprentice License

As an apprentice, you must work for at least six (6) months under the immediate supervision of a licensed cosmetologist. Those six (6) months must consist of you working in a licensed beauty salon for an average of twenty (20) hours per week.

After those six (6) months, you will be eligible to apply for the next step, the cosmetology examination. You must apply to take the regular cosmetology exam within the time before your apprenticeship license expires, which is 18 months after it was issued. If you need to apply for an extension, fill out the extension request form.



Step 3. Pass Regular Cosmetology Examination and Receive Licensure

Once you have worked for twenty (20) hours a week for at least six (6) months under the direct supervision of a licensed cosmetologist, you will be able to apply for the regular cosmetology exam, which is a practical exam.

To do so, complete the following steps:

  • Submit Application
  • Submit Exam fee of $75
  • Submit current 2×2 photograph

Once you are finished fully filling out the application, you can submit the application to the board at the following address—

Kentucky Board of Hairdressers & Cosmetologists
111 St. James Court, Suite A
Frankfort, KY 40601

Once your application is received and processed, you will be notified of the examination date by the board. Exams are offered every month, except of July and August. This exam is a practical exam, and similar to the apprentice practical exam, you are required to bring your own kit and mannequins. It will focus on the same subjects, those grading you will expect higher levels of competence after working in the field for six (6) months. For any further questions, read the Regular Cosmetology Practical Exam Instructions.

Once you take and pass the regular cosmetologist practical exam given by the Board, you will be issued your license.

Out of State

If you have been licensed for two (2) years in another state, you will have to follow the Out of State Licensure application process. To do this, you must have completed the following steps—

  • 1800 hours of cosmetology education
  • Held a cosmetology licensure in a different state
  • Take the Out of State License examination



Step 4. Renew Licensure

All licenses must be renewed by July 31st of each year, and it must be renewed in order to practice. Although the Board does not require continuing education to renew your licensure, continuing education is valuable for many reasons. First of all, it will help you stay on the cutting edge of the latest fashion and beauty trends. Secondly, you will be able to impress your clients with your knowledge and skills, which could lead to better tips! Lastly, the more experienced and educated you are as a cosmetologist, the higher your earning potential will be.

Once you have attained licensure, you can start looking for a job with a salon or spa in Kentucky. Many of the salons prize innovative, team-oriented, and creative professionals, like you, who are looking to constantly be on the cutting-edge of fashion and beauty. Some employers even allow their employees to attend fashion shows as part of their benefits package! If you’re looking for a great place to work, consider some of these salons in Kentucky—

  • Joseph’s Salon and Spa in Louisville
  • Ky Michaels Salon in
  • Salon Professional Academy in Lexington

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