cosmetology continuing education classes

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Cosmetology Continuing Education Classes - Your Guide to Sharpening the Shears

Here’s how to further your working education and meet your state’s renewal requirements with cosmetology continuing education classes.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide formal career advice regarding state licensing requirements for cosmetology continuing education classes. It offers general information that should be used to find official requirements where appropriate.

Just because you’ve finished all your courses at cosmetology school doesn’t mean you’re set for life. Depending on where you live, you may need to keep racking up cosmetology continuing education hours as a requirement for license renewal. Even if it’s not legally mandated, continuing education is a great way to keep your skills up to date throughout your career.

The kind of courses you need to take and when varies from state to state, so here’s a quick and easy rundown of what you need to know before your renewal comes due.

What are cosmetology continuing education classes?

You already know that you need to be licensed to work as a cosmetologist in the United States and that you need to renew your license on a set schedule by paying a fee and submitting some paperwork. It’s just like renewing your driver's license. On top of that, some states will want proof that you’re keeping your skills up to date. Rather than handing out written tests like at the DMV, these states require you to log a certain number of continuing education units or cosmetology CEU hours during every renewal period.

You can receive these cosmetology continuing education classes at accredited cosmetology schools, but some states also provide free instruction that fits their requirements. Some states even count one-on-one instruction received from co-workers and mentors. But before we get into that, let’s talk about what your state specifically mandates in terms of cosmetology continuing education classes.

What cosmetology CEU hours are required in your state?

Each state has its own licensing body for cosmetologists, which determines what is required to seek and renew the licenses required for doing business as a cosmetologist within the state. With that in mind, here’s a handy guide to all 50 states (and Washington D.C.) listing what you need to know as you get started.

We’ve done our best to assemble the latest regulations across the country, but bear in mind that pandemic-driven public measures have meant some changes to licensing requirements in recent years. Also, these continuing education requirements are listed solely for general cosmetologists — if you’re a student, master, or an instructor, your requirements will likely differ. When in doubt, reach out to your state’s cosmetology board to confirm what you need.

What qualifies as cosmetology advanced education?

Your state may require a flat number of continuing education classes for cosmetologists with no other stipulations or a certain number of hours per specific category. Your state may also only recognize courses from accredited schools, or you may be free to select and self-report your own educational ventures. Remember that your licensing board may perform audits to keep less-ethical folks from simply making up classes to save time.

Whatever your state's particulars may be, here are five common types of continuing education that include everything from sanitation skills to a professional hair styling course:

  • Health and safety: These cosmetology continuing education classes focus on ensuring a healthy working environment for both clients and employees. Some states have placed a special emphasis on sanitation classes since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Legal requirements: These classes are meant to keep you up to date on what you need to do to remain in good standing with your state’s cosmetology licensing body. These make up a substantial portion of many states’ CEU curricula.

  • Professional skills:Cosmetology advanced education can help you do better work, too! As long as they meet your state’s requirements, you can put hours spent learning about new hair styling techniques, emerging tech in the field, or anything else toward your renwal.

  • Trade shows: Cosmetology trade shows are a great place to network and pick up skills. Some states even let you put the presentations and demonstrations you attend down as cosmetology continuing education classes.

  • One-on-one mentorship: One of the best ways to learn is by trading skills with your coworkers. If your state allows it, and you document it properly, you may be able to count mentorship opportunities at your salon toward your cosmetology continuing education hours.

If you prefer to spend your time going hands-on with clients, this may sound like a whole lot of trouble just to check a few bureaucratic boxes. But think of it this way: Getting ahead of your state’s requirements for cosmetology continuing education classes will save you from last-minute stress, not to mention potential late fees or even worse, licensing troubles. You might pick up a few handy new techniques along the way, too.

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