Cosmetology Exams: How Long after Graduation Can You Take Your License Exam?

One of the questions that I get asked a lot is how long after graduating from Cosmetology are exams, as well as how much time can pass between graduation and actually taking the exams.

The truth is that there is no generic answer to the question, as each state in the US has their own rules (which also can change every now and then). However, I did some research and found out the information that I am going to share below on the subject.

As you will see, some of the information could be outdated – and some is missing completely, because simply getting in touch with the authorities is very difficult. But if you have additional information on the matter, don’t hesitate to help by sharing it in the comment section below.

Some of the answers are more vague than others, but they all try to help you better understand how long after your cosmetology training you can wait before taking the exams.

The golden rule of thumb here is to do it as soon as possible in order not to risk running into unexpected problems.

IMPORTANT: Don’t take the data below as a fact. Things might change before I get a chance to update this article, so make sure to do your own due diligence and make sure that the information below is up to date!

The easiest way to find the answer to your question is to call your state board directly in order to find out. But I know that takes some planning and maybe you just want to take a quick look before you do that… so here are the answers for each of the states that I managed to get information for, in alphabetical order.

What do you need to do before getting your cosmetology license?

First of all, in order to even qualify to take your cosmetology exams, you will need to meet some requirements. These also vary from state to state in terms of actual numbers, but the requirements themselves are the same.

For starters, you need to complete and graduate a program for cosmetologists either in a school or an apprenticeship program.

You will also need around 1,500 hours of practical experience (depends on state), you must meet the minimum age requirements (usually as low as 16 to 18) and in some cases you need to meet a minimum education requirement.

After meeting these requirements, you can take the actual exam. However, you are not forced to take the exam as soon as you meet these requirements – usually by graduating your program – and you can wait a bit longer.

Do have in mind though that the more you wait, the more difficult it will be for you to actually pass the exam, because you will simply forget some or most of the things you learned. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to take your exams sooner rather than later.

But here is how long after completing your cosmetology training you can take the exams:

Alabama – You must schedule your proper exam withing the first 90 days after completion of your training. If you fail to do so, your master/instructor can get a fine or other penalties.

You must apply for examination within 90 days of completing your hours, and then you have 2 years to get licensed.

Arizona – Reports that your hours are always your hours. The problem becomes proving hours and graduation if too long of a time passes. And of course, remembering enough to pass the exam if too much time goes by.

Arkansas – A recent change to Arkansas’s cosmetology law allows a student to keep hours indefinitely.

California – You can apply for the exam anytime, as long as you can prove that you took the hours.

Connecticut – Your hours would not expire, however, you may be required to complete additional requirements prior to determining your eligibility for license if you have not practiced in your profession for a significant period of time.

Delaware – Your hours from school currently do not have an expiration date. The board is considering this in the future but as of right now there is no expiration date (always double check the information, though especially since they plan to change this).

Florida – Your hours never expire, so you don’t have to worry about losing them. Don’t lose your transcripts in case you have to prove your hours.

Hawaii – Students who resume their beauty culture courses after a lapse of three years or more will not receive credit hours for previous course work.

Indiana – You must take the exam within one year of graduation and you have three years to pass. If you have taken the exam twice and failed, you would need to go back for additional education.

Missouri – Hours are good for 5 years from time of enrollment.

Nevada – If you completed your hours and paid all owed tuition then your hours would be good forever. There is no time limit to take your test once hours are completed.

New Jersey – Upon graduation from a beauty school, you have five years from the date of completion to apply for your license without requiring any additional training. After seven years you lose all your credits.

North Carolina – If your hours are still valid depends on when you enrolled in school and whether or not you ever applied for the State Board Exam.

Hours you have earned from an enrollment period that was completed are valid for 5 years from the date of enrollment (not completion). You must complete the curriculum and file an application with the State Board within this time frame in order not to lose your hours.

Pennsylvania – Hours are indefinite, so long as you can prove your hours you can take the exams even 20 years later.

Tennessee – Once you have obtained the required hours in a curriculum you do not lose the hours. There is no time limit as to when you are required to take the examination.

Washington State – Hours never expire. It is suggested that you keep all records pertaining to your education. The department does not have access to such information and schools close all the time, so there is no way to track them down.

I must repeat – this data changes often so some of it might be wrong or inaccurate when you read this article, but chances are that they are still accurate.

However, make sure to check things out by yourself and don’t take these as granted. Also, if you have any information or updates regarding this important matter, share it with us by commenting below.

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