In times of bad economy many people are looking for a job that they know won’t get outsourced to another country. Working on someone’s hair, is not something that can be done from far away, and in the country we live in, looking good and being groomed is always important. If you have an eye for style, maybe cosmetology is the job for you. Texas has strict regulations on the cosmetology industry to ensure that the proper skills are learned and that sanitary and safety measures are followed.

The career title of cosmetologist can mean different things to different people, but because of oversight by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR), the title does have as specific definition. A cosmetologist is allowed to prep, style, cut and color hair, including beards. Cosmetologists are also allowed to give facials, and massages or other superficial treatments for hands, feet, neck and face, and give manicures and pedicures.

Other titles include a manicurist specialty, a facialist specialty, and in addition, depending on how and where you want to work, you must also apply for either an operator license to open your own salon, or a booth rental license if you want to contract the space.

Cosmetology Training

Cosmetology programs must be approved by the state in order for the class time to count for your license. You can search for approved cosmetology schools on the TDLR website.  The programs will teach students about hair styling, hair cutting, chemical treatments, weaving, straightening and coloring hair, as well as skin care and nail care. You will also learn about hygiene and sanitation techniques.  Most programs consist of 1,500 hours, which is a number mandated by the state for the cosmetology license. However if you only want a facialist specialty license you are only required to take 750 hours, and 600 for a manicurist specialty license. Less hours are required for the less common hair weaving specialty or hair braiding specialty licenses.

Most cosmetology programs allow you to practice outside the classroom in a salon setting to allow students to perfect their skills, although you may have to pass a round of exams before you are allowed to practice on real clients.

At the Regency Beauty Institute, you can finish a program in about a year if you attend full time, but they also offer part time or evening schedules that would take longer. When you graduate you earn a diploma intended to leave you fully prepared to take the state licensing test.

The program at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi is designed to be completed in three semesters for a total of 42 semester credits. The price per semester is about $1,220.00, and does not include books, supplies or uniforms. Other schools, like at the Paul Mitchell school, textbooks and a kit with equipment is included in a total tuition price that varies from campus to campus.

Some schools will help you get a shampoo or student apprentice permit to work in their salons shampooing and conditioning people’s hair while you are in school. This permit is free.

Getting your Cosmetology License

At the end of the trade program, you must take a state exam to get your license. The exam consists of a written and a practical part. The written part of the test consists of 100 multiple choice questions administered on the computer, and you have two hours to complete the test. To pass you must get at least 70 percent on the test. The practical exam tests you for basic skills, with a focus on proper disinfection and sanitary techniques, or proper consumer safety protocol. You must have someone accompany you as a model for you to work on during the facial and manicure services.

Once the school sends proof to the board that you have completed their program, they will consider you eligible to take their exam for a year, and you can re-take the exam an unlimited amount of times during that year.

Tests for the specialty licenses vary but are similar, for instance the manicurist specialty written test only has 90 questions taken in an hour and 45 minutes.

The costs for the tests are all the same. The written portion is $55, and the practical portion is $78. If you fail the test, or don’t show up when you are scheduled to take it, you forfeit what you already paid for it  The license must be renewed every two years. If you complete the required 6 hours of continuing education there is no need to take the exam again, unless you allow the license to expire without renewing it for 5 years. If you are over age 65 and have had your license for more than 15 years, the required continuing education is only 2 hours.

View a list of cosmetology programs in Texas.