Wisconsin Licensing Overview for a Cosmetologist

Licensing for a cosmetologist in Wisconsin is controlled by the Wisconsin Cosmetology Examining Board.

General Guidelines for a Cosmetologist in Wisconsin

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 18 years old; High school diploma or equivalent

What’s the state licensing site for cosmetologist?

Wisconsin Cosmetology Examining Board

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 in March of odd-numbered years.

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 Wisconsin:

  1. The successful completion of a cosmetology / esthetician course
  2. Submission of an application of intent with the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services
  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.


There are basic educational requirements needed before one can become a licensed cosmetologist and/or esthetician in the state of Wisconsin. 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 1,550 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 an esthetician, students are required to complete a minimum of 450 hours of coursework at a registered beauty school. 

Another popular method in which to become a standard cosmetologist in the state of Wisconsin is through an apprenticeship. For those wishing to undertake an apprenticeship instead of attending a registered beauty school, they will need to be accepted under the charge of a licensed cosmetologist and complete three years and 4000 supervised hours within the field. 

Application for licensure

Upon the successful completion of a cosmetology / esthetician course or an apprenticeship, students within the state of Wisconsin are required to submit an application for licensure. This license application must be submitted to Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services for both a cosmetology license and an esthetician license. 

Licensing Exam

The state of Wisconsin requires students who wish to become fully licensed as either a cosmetologist or an esthetician to successfully pass a licensing exam. Wisconsin exams are proctored by the Pearson VUE testing agency. There is both a theoretical exam and a practical exam to undertake, and there is a licensing and exam fee is $391.

The cosmetology exam will cover topics such as:

  • Safety
  • Hair Analysis
  • Styling
  • Physical processes
  • Chemical processes
  • Hygiene
  • Nails
  • Client consultation

The esthetician exam will cover topics such as:

  • Safety regulations
  • Facials
  • Hair removal
  • Client contact
  • Skin analysis
  • Facials
  • Chemical peels
  • Massage
  • Makeup

The cosmetology 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 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

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 biannually by March 31st of odd-numbered years. This process is simple and can be done online through the Wisconsin Cosmetology Examining Board.

In Wisconsin, professionals are required to undertake four hours of continuing education credit during each two-year renewal period to renew the license for cosmetologists and estheticians alike.