November 16, 2021

Cosmetology Licensing Requirements

If you’re looking for a cosmetology school and wondering how to jumpstart your career in the field, there are a few things that you should know. Nothing can match the confidence of graduating from a top Iowa beauty school. In order to better understand the licensure and testing requirements for cosmetology in Iowa, read this guide.

The Aveda Iowa school of beauty is the premier cosmetology training program serving students throughout the greater Des Moines area, but school isn’t the only requirement for a cosmetology career — though the right program will equip you will all of the skills you need!

In addition to attending a cosmetology school, you’ll also need to pass the Iowa board of cosmetology licensing exam. This is the final requirement for licensure in the state of Iowa, and it’s important that you enter the exam feeling competent and confident.


Cosmetology is a skilled professional field, and as such, its practitioners must be monitored and licensed by a state agency. Within Iowa, that agency is the Iowa Board of Cosmetology, and the licensure requirement is a passing score on the board’s state licensure exam.

In addition to this, cosmetologists are required to complete 2,100 hours of training at an Iowa beauty school covering the basic concepts of cosmetology as well as specialized areas of expertise.

A young graduate of Aveda Institute Des Moines works on a young model and smiles for a photo

Cosmetology training must be from an approved institution in Iowa — an institution such as the Aveda Institute Des Moines.

This training will include coverage of concepts such as hair care, nail art, and makeup, with the student typically selecting one area of expertise to focus on. Aveda Institute of Des Moines sends all diplomas and transcripts to the board office to verify the completion of this coursework, as will any other beauty school.

NIC Cosmetology Exam

In addition to completing 2,100 hours of coursework, students must pass the NIC exam in Iowa. The exam was developed by the National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology. Its licensure exam covers the basic tenets of cosmetology that students learn in an Iowa school of beauty. It is estimated that the exam takes around four hours to complete, but this time may vary based on the test you’re taking and the time you individually take to complete it.

The exam may differ from state to state, but it will typically include tests of the candidate’s knowledge of the following:

  • Hairstyling and shaping
  • Chemical waving and relaxing
  • Hair coloring and lightening
  • Thermal curling
  • Blow-dry styling
  • Facial application
  • Manicures

These concepts are an integral part of the cosmetologist’s skill set, and the test aims to ensure that all candidates are well-versed in the basic principles of the field. The test is a combination of computer-based questions as a practical demonstration. For the latter, candidates should be prepared with supplies, such as towels, spray bottles, protective gloves, and disinfectants. Pre-made testing kits may be available with all of the supplies needed for the practical portion of the test.

Obtaining a Cosmetology License in the State of Iowa

If you’ve always dreamed of a career that allows you to showcase your creativity and make others feel beautiful, then a career in cosmetology may be for you. The Aveda Institute Des Moines is the top Iowa beauty school in the greater Des Moines area, and our staff of skilled instructors can help you develop the skills necessary to become licensed. In addition to completing our program, you’ll need to pass the NIC exam to complete licensure in the state of Iowa. If you’re ready to get started on the path to a beautiful career, call us at (515) 200-1096 or reach out to us online for more information.

Image Source: Pixel-Shot / Shutterstock

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6905 Mills Civic PKWY #120
West Des Moines, IA 50266


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