How to Become a Cosmetologist in New York

As a global fashion center, New York’s metropolitan area establishes the styles that evolve into trends seen around the world. With nearly 25,000 licensed stylists bringing their creativity to New York’s salon industry, the city plays host to many of the greatest style innovators the world has ever seen. As a licensed cosmetologist in New York, you won’t follow trends you will help define them.

Enter Zip:

Your relationship with the world of professional cosmetology in New York starts with the Cosmetology Division of Licensing Services, which defines the licensing standards for cosmetologists in the state.

Follow these steps to become a licensed cosmetologist in New York:

Meet New York’s Education and Training Requirements
Apply for a License with the New York Cosmetology Division of Licensing
Pass New York’s Required Cosmetology Exams
Begin your Career as a Stylist in New York
Keep your Cosmetology License Current



Step 1. Meet New York’s Education and Training Requirements

The New York Cosmetology Division of Licensing Service’s Appearance Enhancement Law defines cosmetology as personal services focused on the hair, head, face, neck, and/or scalp that may involve the use of products such as powders, oils, clays, lotions, tonics, dyes, and chemicals.

You must complete 1000 hours of education and training to be eligible for a cosmetology license in New York. A program offered through a Board-approved cosmetology school will include coursework and training that covers:

  • Professionalism
  • Safety and Health
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Hair Analysis
  • Hair and Scalp Disorders and Diseases
  • Chemistry as Applied to Cosmetology
  • Shampoos, Rinses, Conditioners, and Treatments
  • Hair Cutting and Shaping
  • Hair Styling
  • Chemical Restructuring
  • Hair Coloring and Lightening
  • Nail Care
  • Elements, Compounds, and Mixtures
  • FDA Laws

Although the curriculum is intense, beauty school is a fun and relatively quick way to learn everything you’ll need to know to please discriminating clients and impress your employer.



Step 2. Apply for a License with the New York Cosmetology Division of Licensing

Initial Application for Licensure by Education

If you are applying for a cosmetology license for the first time, you will need to complete the following steps:

  • Create an online account and submit an Application through the NYS License Center
  • Make sure that the Affirmation of New York State Approved Schooling section is completed by the director of your school
  • Submit the $40 application fee

Once your application has been received and approved by the Board, you will receive an email notice alerting you to schedule the required exams. Follow the instructions to schedule the exam through your online account.

You have the option to request a six-month temporary license that would allow you to work legally before completing the exam. The temporary license requires an application fee of $10. You may only apply for one temporary license renewal, and only after you have passed either the written or practical component of the exam.

Application for Licensure by Endorsement or Reciprocity

If you previously held a license in another jurisdiction, check here to see if your jurisdiction qualifies for licensure in New York based on reciprocity. If it does, you may apply for a reciprocal license in New York by submitting the original certification issued by your original licensing jurisdiction.

Application for Licensure by Education and Experience

If you have accrued five (5) years of legal, licensed cosmetology work experience outside of New York, you may apply for a license based on a combination of education and experience. In order to do this, you will need to submit evidence of:

  • Original certification from your original licensing agency
  • Two experience statements filled out by former employers, co-workers, or clients
  • Copy of tax returns showing cosmetology as your profession



Step 3. Pass New York’s Required Cosmetology Exams

Written Exam

Schedule the written exam through the online e-Licensing system accessible through your account. This is a multiple-choice exam covering all aspects of the curriculum presented in your cosmetology program. You will have two-and-a-half hours to complete the exam. To pass, you must complete the exam with a score of at least a 70%.

The written exam may be taken at test centers that can be found in the following locations:

  • Albany
  • Binghamton
  • Buffalo
  • Franklin Square
  • Hauppauge
  • New York City
  • Newburgh
  • Rochester
  • Syracuse
  • Utica
  • Plattsburgh

Practical Exam

Schedule the practical exam through your online account and pay a $15 nonrefundable exam fee. You will need to attend the exam wearing appropriate attire and with all the supplies detailed on the supplies list. The practical exam will take at least three-and-a-half hours to complete. You must complete the exam with a score of at least a 70%.

The practical exam will cover the following tasks:

  • Professional Appearance
  • Hair Cutting Techniques
  • Blow Drying Styling Techniques
  • Thermal Curling Iron Techniques
  • Chemical Services
  • Clean up of Work Area

The practical exam can be taken at exam sites located throughout New York:

  • Albany
  • Binghamton
  • Brooklyn
  • Cheektowaga
  • Fairport
  • Goshen
  • Manhattan
  • Oakdale
  • Olean
  • Plattsburgh
  • Sanborn
  • Syracuse
  • Watertown
  • Westbury
  • Yonkers

Once you pass both the written and practical exams, your four-year cosmetology license will be issued.



Step 4. Begin your Career as a Stylist in New York

Congratulations! Now that you’ve earned your cosmetology license, you will be able to pursue opportunities with any of New York’s many chìc salons. This may mean securing a salaried position, or renting out a chair in an established venue.

Just a few of New York’s top salons include:

  • Edris Salon
  • John Barrett Salon
  • Marie Robinson Salon
  • Mirror the Hair Salon at Carol’s Daughter
  • Oscar Blandi
  • Rita Hazan

After gaining a few years of experience, the world is yours. As a licensed cosmetologist in New York, you will have the chance to work with some of the world’s best stylists, and perhaps one day even own a salon of your own.



Step 5. Keep your Cosmetology License Current

Three months before your license expires at the end of each four-year licensing cycle, you will get an email from the Board at your NYS License Center account email. This email will lead you step-by-step through the application process for renewal. (If you have not created a NYS License Center account, you will receive this notice through the mail.)

Although New York does not require continuing education for renewal, you will want to take full advantage of the continuing education that your salon or beauty school offers. These courses will increase your service capacity, keep you on the cutting edge of beauty and fashion trends, and let you perform the latest services with excellent skill and technique.

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