How to Become a Cosmetologist in North Carolina

As a high paying state for cosmetologists (even before factoring in tips!) more than 7,500 hairdressers and stylists called North Carolina home as of 2013. Salon careers are fun and exiting, and will keep you on the cutting edge of fashion, beauty, and styling trends.

Enter Zip:

For information on how to become a cosmetologist in North Carolina, follow these simple steps:

Graduate from Cosmetology School
Pass Licensure Exams
Submit a License Application to the Board of Cosmetic Art Examiners
Explore your Professional Options
Complete Continuing Education to Maintain Licensure

The North Carolina State Occupational Outlook indicates that hairdressers, hairstylists, and other cosmetologist are among the top jobs in the state, offering lots of annual openings. As a cosmetologist in North Carolina, you will land a job that encourages innovation and creativity.

Your future career as a stylist begins with the North Carolina Board of Cosmetic Art Examiners, which licenses cosmetologists, estheticians, and manicurists, each with its own educational and examination requirements. As a licensed cosmetologist, you will work with hair, nails, and makeup.



Step 1. Graduate from Cosmetology School

Cosmetology school is a fun, exciting, and fast way to meet the educational requirements to be licensed. To become a cosmetologist in North Carolina, you will need to complete 1500 hours of cosmetology training at a Board-approved cosmetic art school that offers courses in the following subjects:

  • Cosmetology theory
  • Professional image
  • Business management
  • Salon business
  • Sanitation
  • Bacteriology
  • Chemistry
  • Professional ethics
  • Color application
  • Techniques of cosmetology
  • Multidimensional color
  • Lash and brow color
  • Facials
  • Makeup application
  • Hair removal

Cosmetology school will prepare you to excel in the salon industry—you will be competent in all the latest trends, hair techniques, business management, and ethical laws and codes. This step is foundational to your entire career as a cosmetologist!



Step 2. Pass Licensure Exams

You must pass the exams with a 75% or higher to qualify for a cosmetology license in North Carolina. If you do not pass with this score, you will only be able to attain an apprenticeship license.

The North Carolina Board administers the National Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology, Inc. (NIC exam). There are two subsections to this exam—the practical section and the written section.

In the practical exam, you will need to bring your own kit and mannequin with which to perform your practical, cosmetology skills. The administrator will read a script, which may be found on the instructions page. This will assess your ability to perform cosmetology services in the following six (6) subject areas:

  • Set Up and Client Protection
  • Thermal Curling
  • Haircutting
  • Chemical Waving
  • Virgin Hair Lightening Application and Hair Color Retouch
  • Virgin Relaxer Application and Relaxer Retouch

Secondly, The written exam will be last one and a half hours, and will assess your knowledge concerning topics including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Bacteriology
  • Basic Customer Service
  • Anatomy
  • Principles of Chemistry
  • Trichology
  • Principles of Hair Design
  • Haircutting
  • Wigs
  • Hair enhancements
  • Extensions
  • Chemical service consultation
  • Chemical
  • Hair color services
  • Skin care
  • Nail care

You may take the NIC Cosmetology online practice test by calling 1-800-211-2754 and submitting a $30.00 fee. Along with that, you may study using the following books:

  • Milady’s Standard Cosmetology, by Milady
  • Salon Fundamentals, Cosmetology
  • Cosmetology Career Concepts, haircutting, Hair designing, Hair coloring, and Success Dynamics
  • NIC Health and Safety Standards
  • NIC Cleaning and Disinfecting of Circulating and Non Circulating Tubs and Spas



Step 3. Submit a License Application to the Board of Cosmetic Art Examiners

After you have completed your education and passed the state board exams with at least a 75%, you will be eligible to apply for your license!

Initial Application

If you have never been licensed before and you are applying for your full cosmetology license, then you will do the following:

  • Submit application (paper or online)
  • Submit $49 application fee
  • Submit national board exam scores

Temporary Permit

If you have graduated from your cosmetology school but do not yet have a full license, you may apply for a temporary permit. To be eligible for this permit, you must:

  • Graduate from a cosmetology program
  • Apply for examination within three (3) months of your graduation date.

If you meet those requirements, you may apply. To do so:

  • Receive permit application from your cosmetology school
  • Submit permit application and payment

This permit will expire six months after your date of graduation, and it cannot be renewed. It is simply a stepping-stone from graduation to your full license.

Apprentice License

If you want to apply for an apprentice license, you must be eligible by completing the following:

  • Graduate from a 1200 or 1500 hour cosmetology school
  • Pass written and practical exams with at least 70% (rather than the 75% requirement for a full license)
  • Pay $20 license fee

Natural Hair Care License

If you want to practice natural hair care, which is defined as different forms of braiding, corn rows, locks, and knots, as a natural hair care specialist, you can apply before July 1, 2015, as long as you have been practicing natural hair care professionally since July 1, 2010. If you are eligible, apply here.

If you apply after July 1, you will need to make sure that you complete the following:

  • Graduate from a cosmetic arts natural hair care school with at least 300 hours of instruction
  • Pass Exam
  • Submit application fee



Step 4. Explore your Professional Options

After you have attained your license, you will be able to apply for work at any of the salons in North Carolina, which all offer amazing opportunities to stay in the know on the latest styles. Often, salons will have you rent out chairs in their venues, and other times you may be employed directly by the salon. Consider a few of the best salons in North Carolina, including:

  • Citrine Salon, Chapel Hill
  • Carmen Carmen Salon E’Spa, Charlotte
  • Salon Blu, Raleigh
  • Bella Hair Salon, Jacksonville
  • Hair Studio 168, Durham
  • Dominican Hair Salon, Charlotte

One good thing to note about the cosmetology industry is that, since it is constantly expanding, there are more jobs opening every day. In time, you may be able to move into a management position, or even one day open your own salon!

Your education should prepare you for the business end of cosmetology, and if taken seriously, owning your own salon could become a reality for you!

State Cosmetology Associations

Another opportunity for North Carolina cosmetologists is joining the NC State Beauticians and Cosmetologists’ Association! Joining this association will give you the resources and networking opportunities to excel in the world of professional cosmetology. The association offers you access to the benefits of continuing education, networking opportunities, and annual conventions and trade shows, where you can experience the latest products, styles and techniques.



Step 5. Complete Continuing Education to Maintain Licensure

You must earn at least eight (8) credits of continuing education per license renewal cycle in order to renew your license. For this continuing education, you must maintain accurate records of the following information:

  • Course title
  • Description
  • Date
  • Address of location
  • Number of hours earned
  • Date and sign an affirmation of course completion

You must also make sure that at least one half (50%) of the subject matter covered in your courses is directly related to the practice of cosmetology. The Board is able to complete random audits, so you must have all of your continuing education records easily accessible and ready for the board. Once you complete these continuing education credits, you may find information for renewal here.

Continuing education is not just a way to earn your license renewal, but it is a great way to stay on top of the latest, cutting edge trends, learning more about the industry in order to please your clients and impress your employer!

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