Getting a beautician license is a process dictated entirely by location. In the United States and Canada, individual states and provinces set licensing requirements. These usually include participation in approved beauty school or cosmetology courses, as well as passage of a standardized licensing exam. Some states and provinces require certification in all aspects of hair, skin, and nail care, while others allow certification in but one chosen area. In the United Kingdom and Australia, licenses are not required to work as a beautician, though private certifications are usually available on an elective basis.
Both the United States and Canada rigorously regulate the practice of beautician and cosmetology services. In order to work in a hair salon, provide manicures, or take a job at a spa in these countries, you must first meet a set of jurisdiction-specific requirements. Requirements vary by state or province, but typically include both education and exam passage.
Education is an essential part of getting a beautician license. Beauty school or cosmetology school is usually offered as a trade-type program and does not typically require a university degree. Some programs are offered on academic campuses, often through community colleges, but others are taught directly in salons or in a private educational facilities. Classes usually combine book learning with hands-on experience.
In order to qualify for a beautician license, you must generally take a course that is approved or credentialed by your state or province. Most programs are approved, but some — particularly those that are offered exclusively online — are not. It is best to check with your local regulatory board prior to enrolling in a course to be sure that it will qualify you for a beautician license upon successful completion.
Depending on your local laws, you may be required to get a full beautician license: that is, a license to perform a range of cosmetology procedures, including hair, makeup, nail, and skin services. Other jurisdictions allow candidates to receive beauty licensing only in particular areas. Most of the time, you must sit for a written exam in order to receive your beautician license. Licenses are usually valid only for a few years — anywhere from two to five, in most places — though they are renewable. Renewal is sometimes as simple as paying a fee, but it often requires proof of hours worked or additional educational or training credits.
Becoming a beautician in the United Kingdom and Australia is generally much simpler. These countries do not impose licensing requirements, though professionals often choose to self-certify by taking nationally-recognized exams. Passing these exams is not the same as receiving a cosmetology license, but it is one way for professionals to set themselves apart in the workforce.