How to Become a Cosmetologist in Oregon

The Oregon Health Licensing Office (HLO) is the state agency under which the Board of Cosmetology operates. To become a cosmetologist in Oregon, you will need to apply for certification with the Board by following these steps:

Enter Zip:
Meet Oregon’s Education Requirements for Cosmetologists
Pass the Required Examinations
Apply for Certification with the Oregon Board of Cosmetology
Consider the Field of Cosmetology in Oregon

Joining Oregon’s community of beauty professionals, currently home to 3,340 cosmetologists, can be a smart career move that will place you in a field where you will enjoy a high level of flexibility and creativity. As a cosmetologist you will be able to help people look their best and feel confident in their own lives – and what could feel better than that?

With the right skills and the ambition necessary to secure a chair or open your own shop in Portland, you will enjoy styling hair and providing skin or nail care treatments for clients with styles that run the gamut between classy chic and punk rock. Whether you’re interested in high fashion, or you want to do your part to keep Portland weird, becoming a licensed cosmetologist in Oregon will allow you to express yourself creatively while on the job.



Step 1. Meet Oregon’s Education Requirements for Cosmetologists

Oregon recognizes five fields of practice within the field of cosmetology, each of which has its own cosmetology certification requirements:

  • Barbering
  • Hair Design
  • Natural Hair Care
  • Esthetics
  • Nail Technology

Hair design and natural hair care are the two fields of practice that any well-rounded or specialized cosmetologist would do well to master. Developing your skills in the art of hair modification and manipulation can be a talent you will use throughout your career. The first step towards certification in these areas is education.

Oregon Education Requirements for Hair Design

As a certified hair designer you will be able to do everything that a barber does, as well as:

  • Apply chemical treatments to color, dye, and relax hair
  • Create permanent waves
  • Temporarily braid and curl hair

To be eligible for a certificate in this category you will need to complete at least 1,450 hours of ODE-approved hairstylist training in subjects including:

  • Application of chemicals to hair
  • Geometric hair crafting
  • Business management
  • Hairstylist training
  • Tools and techniques of hair design

Like barbers, as a prospective hair designer you will also need to complete at least 250 hours of training covering career development and safety/infection control.

Oregon Education Requirements for Natural Hair Care

This category of certification was created in 2013. Becoming a certified natural hair care provider does not require any formal education, however you must be well versed in applicable Oregon laws and other pertinent information to pass a natural hair care written test. You will also need to have organic talents and interest in this field in order to be competitive.

A good starting point to preparing for certification in this field is to review the Board of Cosmetology’s brochure on natural hair care certifications. Once you have studied this brochure you will need to print out the included Certificate of Completion and use this later in the application process.

As a natural hair care specialist you will perform services such as:

  • Braiding and cornrowing
  • Lacing and locking
  • Extensions
  • Sewing and weaving
  • Twisting and wrapping



Step 2. Pass the Required Examinations

You will need to pass a written examination administered by the Oregon Health Licensing Agency if you are an in-state or out-of-state applicant. A written exam is offered for each field of certification, and if you are applying for multiple fields you will need to take multiple exams. Once you are ready to be tested you can fill out an Exam Application. These tests are administered on a walk-in basis during select hours Monday through Friday at the following location:

  • Oregon Health Licensing Agency
    700 Summer Street NE, Suite 320
    Salem, OR 97301

Hair Design Exam

This exam is comprised of 100 multiple-choice questions for which you will have 90 minutes to complete. Questions are based on two sources – Milady’s Standard Cosmetology, 2008 edition and Salon Fundamentals, Cosmetology 2009 edition – and cover the following subjects:

  • 29 questions on chemicals
  • 21 questions on equipment and tools
  • 19 questions on definitions
  • 17 general questions
  • 8 questions on diseases and disorders
  • 6 questions on standards of practice

Natural Hair Care Exam

You will be given 60 minutes to complete the Natural Hair Care written exam, which is comprised of 41 multiple-choice questions pertaining to:

Oregon Laws and Rules Examination

All candidates for any cosmetology certification in Oregon must pass this exam, which covers the following laws and rules:

Practical Examinations

If you are applying for a hair design or barber certificate you will also need to pass a practical examination that will evaluate your practical skills in these fields. Your education program will provide you with additional information about your practical examination, which must be approved by the Board of Cosmetology. Your cosmetology school will administer the exam.

If you are an out-of-state applicant who is already a licensed cosmetologist in another state you may not be required to pass a practical examination, however you will still need to pass the appropriate written exams.



Step 3. Apply for Certification with the Oregon Board of Cosmetology

Once you have met the requirements up to this point you will be prepared to fill out one of the following applications. Cosmetology certificates are valid for two years and transferable between work locations. These can be renewed by mail and online.

Barbering and Hair Design Application

You will use the same application if you are applying to become certified in barbering or hair design. A complete application will include:

  • Official transcripts from your cosmetology training program in Oregon
  • Proof that you have passed the appropriate examinations
  • Completed application

Natural Hair Care Application

A complete application for a natural hair care certificate will include:

Out-of-State Candidates

You can also be eligible for a cosmetology certificate in Oregon if you hold an equivalent license from another state whose requirements are similar to those of Oregon. In this case when you are filling out an application you will also need to provide an affidavit of licensure from that state Board of Cosmetology where you are licensed.



Step 4. Consider the Field of Cosmetology in Oregon

Cosmetology jobs in Oregon are driven by the state’s population increase and the ever-present desire by people to look their best. Working in this field will allow you to express yourself while at the same time providing an invaluable service to your clients. Cosmetologists work at locations across the state, including:

  • 2,600 in the greater Portland metropolitan area
  • 230 in the Springfield-Eugene area
  • 210 in Salem
  • 190 in Bend
  • 170 in Medford
  • 110 in Corvallis

To learn more about how to become a cosmetologist in Oregon you can with organizations like:

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