How to Become a Cosmetologist in Maryland

As a cosmetologist in Maryland you will find a diverse client demographic coming to you for help in developing the look that is right for them. This will challenge you to learn specialized skills to beautify different types of hair, skin and nails.

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To learn everything you need to know about how to become a licensed cosmetologist in Maryland, review the steps in this guide:

Get your Cosmetology Education and Training
Pass the Necessary Examinations
Apply for your Cosmetology License
Maintain your License Through Continuing Education

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, cosmetologists working as hairdressers, hairstylists, makeup artists and nail care specialists are found working in areas outside of the personal care industry, including the motion picture and video industry, performing arts companies, offices of health care practitioners, and even in mortuary services.

The Baltimore-Towson area ranks number ten in the entire nation in terms of employment for cosmetologists, with 5,310 salon professionals in this area providing hair, skin and nail services.

Becoming a cosmetologist in Maryland is a fun, exciting and rewarding profession that starts with qualifying for a license through the Maryland Board of Cosmetologists. As of October 2008, The Maryland Board of Cosmetologists no longer issues separate licenses to makeup artists in the state. This means that there are no licensing requirements beyond earning a general cosmetologist license if you plan to work as a makeup artist.



Step 1. Get Your Cosmetology Education and Training in Maryland

The first step to becoming a cosmetologist in Maryland is to obtain the proper education and training. Requirements vary depending upon the level of service you want to provide.

Before pursuing training, verify that you meet the following requirements:

  • You are at least 17 years old
  • You have completed 9th grade OR hold a GED


There are two ways to fulfill the Maryland Board of Cosmetologists’ education and training requirements:

Option 1 – Complete 1500 hours of training at a cosmetology school. The Board stipulates that you should attend a school that is approved by the State Board of Education or the Maryland Higher Education Commission, as the Board routinely inspects these schools.

Although the Board does not require you to graduate from an accredited program, these programs are worth considering since they have been through an evaluation process that offers an assurance of quality. The main accreditation agency for cosmetology programs is the National Accreditation Committee of Career Arts & Sciences (NACCAS). There are 28 accredited cosmetology programs across the state of Maryland.

Listed below is a sampling of just some of the cities in Maryland in which these programs may be found:

  • Baltimore
  • Salisbury
  • Ellicott City
  • Hagerstown
  • Laurel
  • Waldorf
  • Frederick
  • Glen Burnie
  • Owings Mills
  • Cumberland
  • Rockville
  • Bel Air
  • Jessup

Your cosmetology education program will be very hands-on and will involve putting the techniques you study to work on real-life guests of the school’s clinic.

Most Maryland cosmetology schools divide their programs into classroom and practical phases. In the first 350 to 400 hours of your education, you will likely be in the classroom learning from lectures and textbooks. During the practical phase, you will practice on guests of the school’s clinic.

These programs are designed to help you develop and refine hair, makeup and nail care skills, as well as providing you with key business skills. Examples of courses and skills you will learn include (but are not limited to):

  • Job interviewing
  • Salon administration
  • State laws and regulations
  • Sanitation
  • Business ethics
  • Record keeping
  • Retail skills
  • Personal motivation and development
  • Personal appearance and hygiene
  • Customer service
  • Skin care
  • Nail care
  • Perming
  • Hair coloring
  • Cutting

Option 2 – Complete 24 months as a registered apprentice in a licensed Maryland beauty salon, with at least 20 hours of training per week. If you choose this option, your apprentice license will be limited to one year, plus two one-year renewals.

A senior cosmetologist that is licensed in Maryland must provide your training and sign your application and sponsorship form. Training reports must be sent to the Board on a monthly basis.

To begin this process, go onto the State of Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation’s Cosmetology Apprentice License Application online. There is a $10 fee charged for a Maryland apprentice cosmetology license.

Senior Cosmetologist

In order to become a licensed senior cosmetologist in Maryland, you must complete two years of experience as a licensed Maryland Cosmetologist and pass the Senior Cosmetologist Exam and the Cosmetologist Exam (see Step 2 below).



Step 2. Pass the Necessary Examinations for Maryland Cosmetologists

Cosmetology Exam

When you are enrolled in a cosmetology program in Maryland, your instructors will tell you when you are ready to take the Maryland State Board of Cosmetology Exam. This usually occurs near the end of your 1500-hour program, once you have completed about 1400 hours of training. At this time, while you are still a student, you will be allowed to take the theory portion of the exam. Once you have completed your entire 1500 hours of cosmetology training, you may take the practical portion of the exam.

All examinations are administered through Prometric testing centers. You may begin the application process to take any of the exams at their site. The total cost for the practical and theory portions of the exam is $80 if you choose to test after graduation and register for both parts at the same time. If you take each portion separately, each portion carries a registration fee of $50).

Theory – The theory portion of the exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions. You have two hours to complete this portion of the exam. Subjects include:

  • General concepts
    • Infection control and bacteriology
    • Salon safety
    • Salon ethics
    • Client protection
  • Applied anatomy
  • Physical services
  • Chemical services
  • Hair styling and shaping
  • State laws and regulations

Practical – You must bring your own supply kit, mannequin head and mannequin hand for the practical portion of the exam. You are given 195 minutes to perform services, including (but not limited to):

  • Blood spill safety critical section
  • Manicure table set up
  • Eyebrow wax service
  • Thermal curling
  • Hair shaping
  • Chemical wave, permanent wave
  • Hair lightening and coloring
  • Chemical relaxer
  • Final clean-up

Senior Cosmetology Exam

If you have worked for two years as a licensed cosmetologist in Maryland and wish to take the Senior Cosmetology Exam, this is also administered through Prometric. This exam consists of a theory portion only, and carries a fee of $50.

The theory portion of the exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions. You have two hours to complete this part of the exam, which tests your knowledge of the same subjects as the Cosmetology Exam, plus:

  • Salon management
  • Job search
  • Chemistry
  • Apprenticeship and sanitation
  • Licensing



Step 3. Apply for Your Cosmetology License in Maryland

Once you have completed the training and examination to become a cosmetologist in Maryland, you are ready to apply for your license. This is done through the State of Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation’s online application system. You may apply for a Cosmetologist, Senior Cosmetologist and Nail Technician license here. The fee for each original license is $25, which you can pay online via credit card.

If there is any additional documentation that you are asked to send via postal mail, send it to State of Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, Maryland State Board of Barbers and Cosmetologists, 500 N. Calvert St., Room 201, Baltimore, MD 21202-3651.



Step 4. Maintain Your License through Continuing Education in Maryland

Congratulations! You are now a licensed cosmetologist in Maryland! Make sure that you fulfill the state’s requirements to maintain your license.

Cosmetology and senior cosmetologist licenses in Maryland are valid for two years. During each two-year licensing period, you must complete 16 hours of continuing education. One hour must be completed in each of the following areas:

  • Maryland occupational safety and health regulations (includes safe handling of chemicals)
  • Maryland state law
  • Communicable diseases
  • Disinfection, sanitation and sterilization

The remaining 12 hours of continuing education may be taken in any cosmetology-related subject, and may be fulfilled through in-person or online courses, as well as correspondence or video courses.

License renewals are performed online. The renewal fee for cosmetologist and senior cosmetologist license is $25 each, payable online via credit card.

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