South Carolina Licensing Overview for a Cosmetologist

Licensing for a cosmetologist in South Carolina is controlled by the South Carolina Board of Cosmetology.

General Guidelines for a Cosmetologist in South Carolina

Specific requirements to perform cosmetologist services can generally be used as a guideline, but make sure to 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; 10th grade education or equivalent.

What’s the state licensing site for cosmetologist?

South Carolina Board of 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?

Renews every 2 years by March 10.

What are fees associated with licensing?


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.

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

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


There are basic educational requirements needed before one can become a licensed cosmetologist and/or esthetician in South Carolina. The minimum education requirement for this profession is a certificate or diploma in cosmetology / esthetician undertaken at a registered beauty school. To successfully complete this course, students are required to undertake a minimum of 1,500 hours of training before they can be signed off. For further training, some beauticians may choose to gain an associate degree to boost their qualifications. For those looking to begin their own start up business, an associate degree is quite a desirable skill to possess. 

To become a qualified esthetician in South Carolina, students must complete 450 registered hours of coursework at a school of estheticians.  

South Carolina does not currently offer cosmetology or esthetician apprenticeships as a career pathway.  

Licensing Exam

South Carolina requires students who wish to become fully licensed as either a cosmetologist or an esthetician to successfully pass a licensing exam. South Carolina uses PSI for their examination. This exam consists of two parts: a theoretical exam, and a practical exam.

The cosmetology theory exam covers the following topics:

  • Scientific concepts
  •  Hair care and services
  • Skin care and services
  • Nail care and services

The esthetician theory exam will cover topics such as:

  • Microbiology
  • Infection Control
  • Safety Procedures
  • Cells and tissues
  • Systems and Functions
  • Skin care
  • Cleansing, steaming and exfoliation
  • Massage

The cosmetology practical exam requires professionals to bring their own equipment. 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 requires professionals to bring their own equipment. 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

Application for licensure

Upon the successful completion of a cosmetology / esthetician course or an apprenticeship, students within the state of South Carolina are required to submit an application for licensure. This license application must be submitted to South Carolina Board of Cosmetology for both a cosmetology license and an esthetician license. Professionals are required to provide copies of their educational transcripts and exam marks, along with their licensing fee.  

Continuing 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. This process is simple and can be done online through the South Carolina Board of Cosmetology. 

In South Carolina professionals are required to complete a minimum of 12 hours of continuing education, 3 of which must include health and safety. This helps them to stay up to date with the latest techniques and trends in the field of beauty.


South Carolina