Can You Take the Cosmetology Test Without Going to School?

Did you just look up how to become a cosmetologist and found out you have to take a cosmetology test first? In order to start a career as a cosmetologist, you must take a licensing test. Attending an accredited cosmetology school is the first step in becoming a cosmetologist. The second step is passing the licensure exam. Once you have completed both steps you can start your new career as a licensed cosmetologist and begin working with clients.

students studying for their cosmetology test
Women in massage school learning to be massage therapists

Why Is a Cosmetology License Necessary?

State licensing requirements protect the public from untrained cosmetologists, hairdressers, manicurists, and other workers in public personal care fields. As a cosmetologist, you will work with different chemicals, work around bacteria, and come in close contact with clients. In addition to wearing protective gear and properly draping clients, it is important to know how to disinfect, sanitize and sterilize. A cosmetologist needs more than creativity and passion before working with clients. A cosmetologist must complete and pass the licensure written and practical examination after graduating from a diploma program at a cosmetology school. So, what is on the cosmetology license exam?

Public/Client Health and Safety

Cosmetologists must maintain the public’s health and safety standards to keep clients out of harm’s way. Cosmetology programs cover these topics to prepare you for the cosmetology exam. The important sections of the cosmetology license exam for health and safety include:

  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Guidelines
  • Bacteriology and Infection Control
  • Salon Cleaning Practices and Sterilization Procedures
  • Personal Hygiene
  • Chemistry
  • Anatomy and Physiology

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Guidelines

These federal regulations help keep you safe while you work in an establishment for an employer. While OSHA’s requirements are not elaborate or difficult to follow, failure to follow these regulations often results in injury to you or your client. OSHA can also site you for violations that come with hefty fines.

Bacteriology and Infection Control

This portion of the cosmetology curriculum deals with understanding and knowing the difference between state laws and regulations. You will also learn how to list and classify bacteria types, define and explain hepatitis and other disease transmission. During the cosmetology program you will also learn about draping to keep a client safe while you cut and style their hair. This also keeps chemicals and other irritants from getting on their skin or clothes.

Salon Cleaning Practices and Sterilization Procedures

Part of the cosmetology program addresses the types of disinfectants, safely maintaining a bacteria-free salon atmosphere, proper implementation of cleaning procedures, universal precautions, and the differences between cleaning, disinfecting, and sterilizing.

Personal Hygiene

Hygiene should be a priority in your salon’s day-to-day operation. Simple hygiene practices include cleaning your hands, keeping your uniform debris-free and keeping your hair out of the way.


With an understanding of introductory chemistry, you will have the ability to effectively and safely use professional products. Most products and services utilized in the salon setting contain chemicals. You will learn their proper use, so these chemicals don’t temporarily or permanently ruin a client’s appearance. You will also learn how to use a checklist to properly keep track and store these chemicals.

Anatomy and Physiology

Anatomy and Physiology study the human body’s structures and how they function as a whole. These key components help you understand how a client’s hair, skin, and nails react to various services. You will learn how hair and nails grow. This will assist you with manicures, pedicures and hair salon services like bleaching, chemical relaxing and blow outs. Knowing the structure of hair, hair types and hair composition also allows you to give your clients the right hair care recommendations in between appointments.

Benefits of Cosmetology School

Some prospective students searching for higher education believe traditional colleges or universities are the only avenues to a respected and rewarding career. Many find that it is easier to become a cosmetologist with a diploma from a cosmetology school. A diploma makes a candidate more desirable in today’s job market for successful employment. There are many benefits to graduating from a cosmetology school.

Benefit #1: A Quick Start

Instead of spending years studying, cosmetology students graduate in months rather than years. You could start earning in as little as 12 months with a diploma from a cosmetology school. If you are just getting into the workforce, need to switch careers or always wanted to become a cosmetologist, you can learn the craft and quickly start working in hair, nails and makeup.

Benefit #2: Flexibility

Cosmetology school offers flexible schedules with day and evening classes for you to fit studies around children, job, or other commitments. Not everyone is able to attend classes during the day so many cosmetology schools offer night classes. This allows everyone to have the chance to graduate, even if they are working or have family responsibilities.

Benefit #3: Focused Curriculum

Cosmetology students study industry-specific classes laser-focused on their cosmetology passion. No elective courses, you learn what you need to start working on day one. Also, cosmetology schools keep curriculum up to date with the help of the community. Employers tell the cosmetology school what they are looking for in candidates and that is translated into the school’s curriculum.

Benefit #4: Financial Aid

For those that qualify, cosmetology schools offer financial aid assistance options, including scholarships, grants, and government-backed student loans, to assists with the cost. The cosmetology school will help you fill out the FAFSA form for federal student aid and remind you about the different deadlines that you need to file by, so you are eligible.

Benefit #5: Industry Experienced Instructors

Cosmetology schools employ knowledgeable and passionate instructors with years of experience in the cosmetology trade. These instructors have ties in the community and can also help you network when you graduate.

Benefit #6: Smaller Class Sizes

Cosmetology school classes are small, and everyone gets one-on-one attention from instructors. Instructors are available to help you with any questions you may have. Smaller classes also mean building relationships with classmates. These relationships can be life long creating a network of friends and colleagues.

Benefit #7: Career Services

Programs that teach a trade or continuing education like a cosmetology school usually offer career guidance as a lifelong benefit. They will have career boards, keep in touch with community organizations and offer you jobs that others may not even get to see. You will also get help with resume writing, workshops and mock interviews.

Being A Licensed Cosmetologist Brings Opportunity

Being licensed in your perspective field brings many more opportunities. Many potential careers are available to cosmetology graduates after completing school, fulfilling state requirements, and obtaining the proper licensure. More and more people choose cosmetology as their career path because of the many benefits and opportunities to be creative every day. Here are a few of the exciting career opportunities possible for a licensed cosmetologist:

Career #1: Hairstylist

Hairstylist is easily one of the most common career opportunities for a licensed cosmetologist. If you love helping people with their look, then this is an excellent match for you. A hairstylist’s job involves cutting and styling hair professionally. During a cosmetology program, you get the skills you need to create loyal customers, from communication to customer service and everything in between. After graduating from a cosmetology school, you will be prepared to work as a hairstylist in your local salon.

Career #2: Nail Technician

Since nailcare is part of the cosmetology program, graduates find themselves becoming nail technicians. Along with performing manicures, pedicures, and applying nail tips, nail technicians have the opportunity to create unique nail designs. Nail techs always have new products to research and new techniques to master, making it a rewarding career.

Career #3: Salon Owner

Some cosmetologists start their own salon or rent a space at a salon co-op. Working for yourself is rewarding. You will use your business acumen that you learned during the cosmetology program to run the salon, hire staff, pay bills and market to customers.

Career #4: Cosmetology Instructor

After a few years of experience, some licensed cosmetologists want to share their knowledge to help other students get a high-quality education that leads to the perfect career. Becoming a cosmetology instructor allows you to shape the lives of students who are about to enter the workforce just like an instructor did for you. Although this takes patience, organizational skills, and the ability to communicate well with others, if you like to make a difference and inspire students, this is an optimal career opportunity.

Career #5: Beauty Supply Company Representative

How would you like to travel around to salons, spas, beauty schools, and department stores representing a beauty industry company? A beauty supply rep works for beauty supply manufacturers and distributors to coordinate sales efforts with team members, marketing products, maintaining advertising materials, taking orders to fill shelves, and demonstrating the proper usage of products.

Final Thoughts

Passionate about becoming a hairstylist, nail technician, or salon owner? Now that you know how to become a licensed cosmetologist it is time to start the journey. Not only do you get to help others as a cosmetologist, but you prepare yourself for a life-long career. The demand for cosmetologists is growing. Hairstylists are needed in good times and bad. So, start a cosmetology program today and start enjoying what you do tomorrow.

Cosmetology Program

Want to prepare yourself for the licensure exam to become a cosmetologist? At Minnesota School of Cosmetology, we are dedicated to helping our Cosmetology program students develop a solid foundation and a flair for style through hands-on training in basic and advanced industry techniques. You will learn how to cut, color and style hair, give manicures and pedicures, provide spa treatments and perform various skin care techniques from industry-experienced instructors in a professional salon setting.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a cosmetologist and starting a rewarding career in the beauty industry.

Find out what Minnesota School of Cosmetology can do for you

11-month Cosmetology Diploma |

12-Month Massage Therapy Diploma |

5-Month Esthiology Diploma

By checking the box below, you are giving your express written consent for Minnesota School of Cosmetology to contact you regarding our programs and services using email, telephone, or text - including our use of automated technology for calls and periodic texts to any wireless number you provide. Message and data rates may apply. This consent is not required to purchase goods/services and you may always call us directly at 651-432-4624.

Yes, you may send texts to this number

  View Privacy Policy

Submitting this form constitutes your consent to be contacted by email and/or phone from a representative of the school.