Colorado Licensing Overview for a Cosmetologist

Licensing for cosmetologist in Colorado is controlled by the Colorado Office of Barber and Cosmetology.

General Guidelines for a Cosmetologist in Colorado

Specific state requirements to perform cosmetologist services should be followed, but also check with your local governing rules and regulations.

Who’s allowed to perform these services?


General requirements for cosmetologist license required?

At least 16 years old

What’s the state licensing site for cosmetologist?

Colorado Office of Barber and Cosmetology

What are some training programs available for cosmetologist?

See training programs

How long is a license good for and when do I need to renew?

Renew every 2 years, in odd- or even-numbers years, by April 30

What are fees associated with licensing?

$32 fee / $47 reinstatement fee

Cosmetologist / Esthetician Licensing

A cosmetologist is a beauty professional who specializes in the beautification and health of their client’s hair, skin and nails. An esthetician is a beauty professional that specializes in the beautification and health of their client’s skin, particularly through hair removal, skin and facial treatments and the application of makeup. With additional training, a cosmetologist can become an esthetician and vice versa. While there are fundamental differences between cosmetologists and estheticians as we have just explained, the process of becoming licensed within each career is almost the same. With this being said, the process of being a fully licensed cosmetologist and/or esthetician varies between each state.

The following pages look at the detailed information on individual state licensing to help give you the best advice as you move forward in your career path.

There are four main steps that need to be completed to become a qualified cosmetologist / esthetician in the state of Colorado. These include:

  1. The successful completion of a cosmetology / esthetician course
  2. Submission of an application of intent with the Colorado Board of Cosmetology and Barbering
  3. Successfully undergo state testing and pass the minimum requirements of each test
  4. Maintain your knowledge base through regular education to keep your cosmetologist / esthetician license current.


The minimum requirements for a cosmetologist in the state of Colorado are slightly different to most other states. Colorado accepts credit hours rather than specific training hours for licensure. This means that students are able to begin their career quicker than most other states. Colorado requires students to complete 60 hours of credit hours within a recognised facility of learning. For estheticians in Colorado, a minimum of 20 credit hours is required for licensure.

Colorado does not currently offer an apprenticeship program for cosmetology or esthetician students as a pathway into the career. 

Application for licensure

To apply for licensure, the state of Colorado requires students to be of a minimum age of 16 years old and to have fully completed their credit hours. This license application must be submitted to the Colorado Cosmetology Licensure Portal for both a cosmetology license and an esthetician license. The cost of this application is $27.

Licensing Exam

The state of Colorado requires students who wish to become fully licensed as either a cosmetologist or an esthetician to successfully pass a licensing exam. Colorado uses the National Cosmetology Examination through the National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology (NIC) as their examination. This exam consists of two parts: a theoretical exam, and a practical exam. 

Practical Exam

The cosmetology practical exam is run by the Professional Credential Services (PCS) and costs $71 to undertake. The exam may take up to 2 hours and 20 minutes to complete.

The practical exam will typically look at a range of areas of the profession including (but not limited to):

  • Maintaining a safe work environment
  • Hair set up
  • Hair removal
  • Hair cutting
  • Hair coloring  

The esthetician practical exam is run by the Professional Credential Services (PCS) and costs $71 to undertake. The practical exam will run for up to 85 minutes.

The practical exam will typically look at a range of areas of the profession including (but not limited to):

  • Hygienic set up
  • Facial cleansing
  • Hair removal
  • Makeup application
  • Facial mask

Theoretical examination

Once students have successfully completed their practical exam, they are eligible to sit for the written exam. The theoretical exam for both cosmetology and esthetician is conducted by PSI Services LLC on behalf of the NIC. The exam consists of questions relating to the fields of hygiene, human anatomy, skin analysis, chemistry and more. The exam questions will cover a range of areas that are specific to the course content relevant to your field of study. The cosmetology exam typically takes around 2 hours to complete and the esthetician theory exam typically takes 100 minutes to complete. Both written examinations and cost $56.

Read on to see some sample theoretical questions for the cosmetologist exam.

Which of the following refers to the deepest layer of the epidermis?

  1. Stratum spinosum
  2. Stratum granulosum
  3. Stratum germinativum
  4. Stratum lucidum

As hair cells grow, what is the process that they go through to reach full development?

  1. Eumelanin
  2. COHNS
  3. Keratin
  4. Keratinization

How may cranial bones do humans have?

  1. 10
  2. 8
  3. 9
  4. 7

Which of the following will not affect the rate of growth of a nail?

  1. Prenatal vitamins
  2. Exercise
  3. Diet
  4. General health

Read on to see some sample theoretical questions for the esthetician exam.

What is one of the principal functions of the skeletal system?

  1. It protects dendrites
  2. It aids in the metabolic process
  3. It produces red and white blood cells
  4. It produces calcium

Which of the following substances do the sebaceous glands utilize to lubricate the skin?

  1. Lymph
  2. Ascorbic acid
  3. Uric acid
  4. Lipids

Quats, or quaternary ammonium compounds are used by estheticians because…

  1. They are odorless
  2. They don’t soften plastic bottles
  3. They kill bacterial spores
  4. They disinfect tools quickly

What are actinic keratoses?

  1. Rough skin patches
  2. Hives
  3. Shingles
  4. Atopic dermatitis

Ongoing education

Following the successful completion of your state license to become either a cosmetology or an esthetician, it is important to remember that you must renew this license every two years on the 30th April for cosmetologists and 31st March for estheticians. The fee for each of these renewals is $32. This process is simple and can be done online through the Colorado Cosmetology Licensure Portal.

In the state of Colorado, there are no ongoing educational requirements for cosmetology or esthetician licenses, however, many professionals continue to grow their expertise. This allows them to stay up to date with the latest techniques and trends in the field of beauty.