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Telephone: (803) 896-4588
Email: BoardInfo@llr.sc.gov

Theresa Richardson
Administrator

Matteah Taylor
Administrative Coordinator

Mary League
Advice Counsel




South Carolina Board of Cosmetology

Frequently Asked Questions

The below list are links to questions on this page. They are not conclusive answers to all requirements that may apply to obtaining a license. Please refer to the Laws and Regulation web pages located on the home page.

Licensing requirements for Cosmetologist, Esthetician or Nail Technician

Instructor's qualification requirements

Instructor's examination

Reciprocity

Renewal and Reinstatement requirements

Continuing Education requirements

Salon license requirements

School License requirements

School and Salon location

Commonly Asked Questions about Service Animals in Places of Business

Who offers Board ordered disciplinary classes? 

What are the requirements to become licensed as a Cosmetologist, Esthetician or Nail Technician in South Carolina?

Answer: SECTION 40-13-230. Qualifications for licensure; cosmetologist; esthetician; nail technician.

  1. A license as a cosmetologist must be issued by the board to a person who:

    (1) is at least sixteen years of age and possesses at least a tenth grade education or the equivalent as established by tests used in the public schools or tests approved by the board;

    (2) has completed at least one thousand five hundred hours in classes in cosmetology in a reliable school approved by the board or is a registered master hair care specialist pursuant to Chapter 7 who has satisfied educational requirements established by the board in regulation; and

    (3) has passed the examination prescribed by the board and pays the required fee.
  2.  A license as an esthetician must be issued by the board to a person who:

    (1) is at least sixteen years of age and possesses at least a tenth grade education or the equivalent as established by tests used in the public schools or tests approved by the board;

    (2) has completed at least four hundred fifty hours in classes in skin care in a reliable school approved by the board or comparable training approved by the board; and

    (3) has passed the examination prescribed by the board and pays the required fee.
  3.  A license as a nail technician must be issued by the board to a person who:

    (1) is at least sixteen years of age and possesses at least a tenth grade education or the equivalent as established by tests used in the public schools or tests approved by the board;

    (2) has completed at least three hundred hours in classes in a reliable nail technician school approved by the board or comparable training approved by the board; and

    (3) has passed the examination prescribed by the board and pays the required fee.
  4.  Temporary permits to practice as a cosmetologist, esthetician, or nail technician may be issued in accordance with regulations promulgated by the board.

What are the instructors' qualification requirements?
Answer:  SECETION 35-4. Instructor Qualifications; Applications.

  1.  A license to teach cosmetology, nail technology or esthetics may be issued by the board to any person who:

    (1) submits an application for an instructor's license on a form prescribed by the board; and

    (2) holds a high school diploma or a General Education Development (G.E.D.) certificate; and

    (3) is a licensed cosmetologist, nail technician or esthetician and has practiced for at least two years or, after receiving a cosmetologist, nail technician or esthetician license, has completed a seven hundred fifty (750) hour instructor training program meeting the standards of 35-4(B); and

    (4) has received forty-five (45) hours training in a teaching methods course approved by the board; and

    (5) pays the prescribed fee; and

    (6) passes the instructor's examination prescribed by the board; or

    (7) alternately, for specialized theory hours, a person who has a minimum of five years experience or a bachelor's degree in a related profession, occupation or cognitive area, may instruct the required theory classes with prior approval by the board.
  2.  To be approved by the board, an instructor for a methods of teaching course must qualify by:

    (1) having a Masters degree in education; or

    (2) having expertise in a board approved related field.
  3.  The Student Instructor Training Program shall:

    (1) consist of a minimum of seven hundred fifty (750) hours of instruction designed to teach students the basics of instruction in a cosmetology, nail technology, or esthetics program; and

    (2) be conducted under the direct supervision of a licensed instructor in a school licensed by this board. Instructors may supervise only one student at a time; and

    (3) be required when an applicant does not meet the requirement of two years of experience as a licensed cosmetologist, nail technician, or esthetician; and

    (4) be limited to those persons currently licensed in South Carolina who hold a valid high school diploma or General Education Development certificate (G.E.D.).
  4.  The curriculum shall consist of:

    (1) one hundred twenty-five (125) hours of instruction in basic teaching methods and counseling techniques, development of lesson plans, South Carolina cosmetology laws and regulations; and

    (2) two hundred forty (240) hours of instruction in theory, use of audio-visual equipment, evaluation techniques and instruments, classroom observation, practice teaching, and record keeping; and

    (3) two hundred forty (240) hours of instruction in sterilization and sanitation, supervision of clinical activity, effective demonstration procedures, presentation of styling techniques, student/patron relationship; and

    (4) one hundred twenty (120) hours of instruction in state enrollment procedures and requirements, inventory control and purchasing, student scheduling, graduate records, licensure application forms; and

    (5) twenty-five (25) hours unassigned to be designated as needed on an individual basis.
  5. Schools offering the Student Instructor Training Program shall submit a proposed curriculum to the board for approval. The approved course must be adhered to. Any change in the curriculum shall be submitted to the board for approval prior to implementation. A copy of the approved curriculum must be given to each student.

    (1) Before enrolling a student in the Student Instructor Training Program, the school must disclose in writing that the course is not required for licensure as an instructor if the enrollee has a cumulative total of twenty-four (24) months of experience as a licensed cosmetologist, nail technician, or esthetician. The student must sign a statement that he or she has been advised of all state instructor licensure requirements.

    (2) A copy of the student instructor's contract must be kept on file at all times and available for inspection by the board or its agents.

    (3) The student instructor shall be properly identified at all times.

    (4) The school must provide a certified transcript documenting the hours obtained by the student instructor to the board after all contractual and financial obligations have been met.

Are Instructors required to take an examination?
35-5.  Examinations; Reexaminations.

  1. Upon determining that an applicant is eligible for examination, the board shall notify the applicant at least ten days before the examination.
  2.  If an applicant fails to appear for a scheduled examination, the examination fee shall be forfeited.
  3. The board may subscribe to the National Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology Testing Service or such other testing service as selected by the board for the theory portion of the examination.
  4. The examination shall be administered in two separate parts.

    (1) One part shall be the theory examination with a minimum passing score of 80.

    (2) One part shall be the practical examination with a minimum passing score of 80.
  5. An applicant who fails either part of the examination must retake only the part of the examination failed.
  6. An applicant desiring to be reexamined shall apply to the board on a form prescribed by the board and pay the prescribed reexamination fee.
  7. An applicant applying for comity licensure, shall also pass a South Carolina state law exam as designated by the South Carolina Board of Cosmetology.

35-13.  Out of State Applicants.
A person currently licensed or certified to practice in another state or territorial possession of the United States, or the District of Columbia, whose license is in good standing, maybe issued a license if the person has satisfactorily passed a nationally recognized examination for entry into the profession.
35-8.  Instructor Reciprocity.
Upon application and payment of the required fee, a license to teach cosmetology, esthetics, or nail technology may be issued by the board to any person who:

(1) is currently licensed, and in good standing, as an instructor in a state that has a nationally endorsed examination; or

(2) who is a licensed cosmetologist, esthetician or nail technician who has practiced for at least two years in any other state and submits proof, satisfactory to the board, of having completed instructor training which is substantially equivalent to requirements of this state.
I have a license from another state, can I receive my license without testing?
SECTION 40-13-270. Reciprocity to Nonresidents.
The board may grant to a resident of another state, the District of Columbia, or any other U.S. territory or commonwealth state full reciprocity with respect to practicing cosmetology, esthetics, or manicuring in this State when the person is properly licensed and registered under the laws of the other state, the District of Columbia, or the U.S. territory or commonwealth state and is otherwise qualified.

35-13. Out of State Applicants. [S.C. ADC 35-13]
A person currently licensed or certified to practice in another state or territorial possession of the United States, or the District of Columbia, whose license is in good standing, maybe issued a license if the person has satisfactorily passed a nationally recognized examination for entry into the profession.  
35-8. Instructor Reciprocity. [S.C. ADC 35-8]
Upon application and payment of the required fee, a license to teach cosmetology, esthetics, or nail technology may be issued by the board to any person who:

(1) is currently licensed, and in good standing, as an instructor in a state that has a nationally endorsed examination; or

(2) who is a licensed cosmetologist, esthetician or nail technician who has practiced for at least two years in any other state and submits proof, satisfactory to the board, of having completed instructor training which is substantially equivalent to requirements of this state.

What are the requirements for renewing or reinstating my license?
SECTION 40-13-250. Biennial renewal of licenses; expiration; reinstatement; reexamination; inactive licenses.

(A) The holder of an individual license issued by the board biennially, on such date as may be designated by the board, shall renew his license and pay the renewal fee and furnish proof to the board that he has completed continuing education approved by the board. A person who has held a license for at least fifteen consecutive years and is sixty years of age or older or who has held continuous licensure for at least thirty years, is fifty years of age, and who has not been disciplined by the board is exempt from taking continuing education courses. Upon approval by the board and submission of an attendance form prescribed by the board, a person may obtain continuing education credit by attendance at trade show cosmetology-related instructional programs.

(B) A license to practice or teach cosmetology which has not been renewed before the date designated by the board expires on that date. The holder of an expired license may have the license restored within three years of the date of the expiration upon payment of the required renewal fee and satisfactory proof of his or her qualifications to resume practicing. The reinstatement fee must be established by the board in regulation.

(C) If a license has been expired for more than three years, the board shall conduct reexamination of the applicant before issuing a new license. The examination may include practical demonstrations and written tests that the board determines to be necessary.

(D) A licensee may place a license on inactive status by completing and submitting a board-approved form to the board office. In order to maintain inactive status, a licensee must renew the license biennially by payment of the renewal fee as provided by regulation. The licensee may not receive any license or other authorization to practice during the inactive period. An individual seeking to reactivate a license shall complete an application, submit the required fee, and comply with continuing education requirements as provided by regulation.

(E) The holder of a license for a salon or a school shall renew the license biennially on a date set by the board by the payment of a renewal fee established by the board in regulation.

(F) Application for renewal of a school license must be accompanied by proof of continued validation of the applicant's surety bond.
35-9. Instructor Renewal License.
The holders of current instructors' licenses shall not be required to renew their cosmetologist, esthetician or nail technician licenses as long as the instructor's license is renewed biennially and the instructor's continuing education (CE) requirements are met.

(1) If the holder of a current instructor's license chooses to receive a cosmetologist, esthetician or nail technician license in addition to the instructor's license, the eligible license may be issued upon payment to the board of the prescribed renewal fee.

(2) If the holder of a current instructor's license chooses to no longer renew the instructor's license and elects instead to reactivate a cosmetologist, esthetician or nail technician license, such license will be considered as being current with the instructor's license and the eligible license may be issued upon payment to the board of the prescribed renewal fee.

What are my requirements for continuing education and when are they due?

35-24. Continuing Education Programs.

  1. Continuing education programs shall meet the criteria established by the board in conjunction with the Division of Continuing Education, University of South Carolina.

    (1) The continuing education course shall meet the following criteria for approval:

    (a) All education must be generic in nature, i.e., not teach a system, a method, or a product.

    (b) All education shall be conducted and monitored by a board approved organization including the signing in and out of participants to assure the presence of participants for the required contact hours.

    (c) All organizations desiring to sponsor continuing education shall present to the board prior to October 15 of each year a course outline which shall include but may not be limited to the following:

    (i) Instructors Name(s) and summary of qualifications

    (ii) Course outline including lesson plans

    (iii) List of monitors
  2. Verification. Each licensee for renewal shall maintain evidence of having earned the required number of hours of continuing education for a period of four years. These records are subject to audit by the board and the licensee may be disciplined for failure to maintain them. (C) Program Format, Time Frame, Space.

    (1) The program shall not include breaks and lunch periods in the calculation of credit for time attended.

    (2) The program shall be completely generic. No mention, promotion or selling of products can take place.

    (3) If the program for any reason is late starting, the ending time shall be extended accordingly.

    (4) There shall be no early dismissals except for emergencies.

    (5) Adequate space shall be provided so that each attendee shall be able to see and hear all segments of the program.

    (6) Chairs shall be provided.

    (7) Smoking shall be curtailed while the program is ongoing. Smoking shall take place only during breaks and lunch periods or only in designated areas.

    (8) All participants in the CE programs shall provide two forms of identification one of which must be a government issued photographic identification any time they enter the education area.
  3.  Instructors and Monitors of Continuing Education.

    (1) Instructors shall be licensed Instructors, Hair Fashion Committee Members or Hair Designer Guild Members. Any deviation from this list must receive approval by the board. Licensees of this board who participate in teaching a continuing education program with instructors who do not meet these qualifications may be disciplined by the board for aiding the unlicensed practice of cosmetology.

    (a) Instructors shall not receive CE credit for any continuing education program they teach.

    (2) A monitor shall be on duty at all times while the program is ongoing.

    (3) Monitors shall see that all attendees sign a check in and check out sheet.

    (4) It shall be the duty of the monitor to see that order is maintained at all times and that the verification of attendance forms and that the evaluation forms are completed and signed at the end of the program.
  4. Verification Forms; Evaluation Forms. Verification of Attendance Forms and Evaluation Forms shall not be passed out or completed until the program is over. All applicants and providers shall complete a verification form, approved by the board and the Division of Continuing Education, University of South Carolina, verifying their attendance and must be submitted in a format approved by the board.

    (1) The monitor shall verify the participants' attendance and signature on the verification form.

    (2) Each sponsoring organization shall mail these forms to the University of South Carolina, along with the required registration fee set by the University of South Carolina.

    (3) The forms shall be kept on record with the University of South Carolina as verification that the participants have met the continuing education requirements.

    (4) All participants shall receive from the University of South Carolina a Continuing Education Unit (CEU) Certificate proving verification.

    (5) The verification forms shall be provided to the organizations by the Division of Continuing Education, University of South Carolina.
  5. Certificating Agent. The University of South Carolina, Division of Continuing Education, will serve as the certificating agent for all providers by providing University of South Carolina Continuing Education Unit (CEU) Certificates for participants when the following conditions are met:

    (1) The course submitted by any of the course providers must be fully approved by the board. Complete copies of the course and instructor information (same information requested by the board for course approval), as well as a copy of the approval form from the board must be received by the Division of Continuing Education at least three (3) weeks before the beginning date of the course(s). The information should also include date(s), location(s), and times of the course(s).

    (2) Providers who have received course approval from the board shall express their desire, in writing to the Division of Continuing Education at the University of South Carolina, to serve as the certificating agent for their course(s) at least two (2) weeks before the beginning date(s) of the course(s).

    (3) Once the course has been approved by the board and the provider has officially requested that the Division of Continuing Education serve as the certificating agent, course attendance forms and general program evaluation forms can be obtained from the Division of Continuing Education at least two (2) weeks prior to the start of the course(s). A complete copy of all verification and evaluation forms must be forwarded to the Division of Continuing Education before the certificating process can begin. Certificates will be mailed to participants.

    (4) The certificating costs shall include:

    (a) a University of South Carolina (CEU) Certificate for participant; and

    (b) a complete list of course participants and professional license numbers forwarded to the sponsoring Association and the board; and

    (c) Permanent transcripts developed and maintained on each participant. Retrieval of transcripts by participants will be subject to the policies of the University of South Carolina.

    (5) Verification forms shall be necessary for all participants in order to complete the certificating process.

  6. Board to Observe Program. The board or its designated agents may observe any continuing education program at any time.

What are the requirements to obtain a salon license?

35-15. Licensure of Cosmetology, Nail Technology, and Esthetics Salons.

  1. Application for Licensure.

    (1) For the purpose of this regulation, a salon is defined as a location, other than a cosmetology school, at which cosmetology, nail technology or esthetics is practiced.

    (2) Any firm, person or corporation desiring to open a salon of cosmetology, nail technology or esthetics shall make application to the State Board of Cosmetology at least ten working days prior to opening date, stating the approximate date the salon will be ready to open. Such application shall be made on a form provided by the board and shall be accompanied by the required application fee.

    (3) The applicant shall designate a manager of the salon who will be responsible for compliance with this chapter and responsible for all personnel physically located in the salon.

    (4) If an applicant fails to meet all the licensure requirements, the board shall deny the application, in writing, and shall list the specific requirements not met.

    (5) An applicant denied salon licensure because of failure to meet the requirements set by the board is not precluded from reapplying for licensure.
  2. Temporary Permit.

    (1) When an application to operate a salon is approved by the board and an inspection cannot be completed before the projected opening date, the board may issue a temporary permit for not more than ninety (90) days to the owner to operate the salon until an inspection can be made.

    (2) If, upon inspection, the salon fails to meet all licensure requirements, the board may, in its discretion, extend the temporary permit for not more than thirty (30) additional days.

    (3) Upon completion of a satisfactory salon inspection, any temporary permit previously issued shall be relinquished to the board's representative and a salon license will be issued by the board.
  3. Inspections.

    (1) The board or its designee shall conduct an inspection of the salon to ensure that all licensure requirements have been met, within ten working days, prior to issuance of a salon license.

    (2) Licensed salons will be inspected periodically by a representative of the board.
  4. Change in Salon Location.

    (1) A salon license shall be valid only for the location named and shall not be transferable.

    (2) Any request for a change in salon location shall be submitted to the board through a new application, together with the required fee, twenty working days prior to the proposed opening in the new location.
  5. Change in Salon Name and/or Salon Owner.

    (1) A salon license shall be valid only for the owner named and the salon named, and shall not be transferable.

    (2) Any request for a change in salon name and/or salon owner shall be submitted to the board through a new application, together with the required fee.
  6. Salon Closure.

    (1) If a salon is closed permanently, the salon license shall be immediately returned to the board. If a salon is temporarily closed for more than sixty (60) days, the salon owner shall notify the board.
  7. Renewal of Salon License.

    (1) A salon license shall be renewed upon application, accompanied by the required renewal fee, to the board before July 1 of the year in which such license expires.

What are the requirements to obtain a school license?

35-1. Application for Approval to Operate Schools of Cosmetology, Nail Technology, or Esthetics.

  1. Any person, firm, or corporation desiring to open any public or private cosmetology, nail technology, or esthetics school (hereafter referred to as "school") shall make application to the State Board of Cosmetology at least sixty (60) days prior to the anticipated opening date. Such application shall be made on a form prescribed by the board. Each application shall be accompanied by the required application fee. In addition, said applicant shall make available to the board at the time of filing the following information:

    (1) Name of owner if solely owned, names of partners if a partnership, names of corporate officers and their respective office if a corporation; and

    (2) The name of the school, its location, and the complete mailing address; and

    (3) Floor plan drawn to scale showing placement of all equipment with all areas designated to include a clinic, dispensary, classroom, office, and restrooms/dressing rooms; and

    (4) Other information which the board deems important in consideration of application may be required.
  2. Cosmetology schools shall have a minimum of two thousand five hundred (2,500) square feet of floor space to accommodate no more than sixty (60) students at any given time. For more than sixty (60) students, additional space shall be designated proportionately. Minimum square footage for the clinic area of the school must total sixty (60) square feet per workstation.

    (1) Each cosmetology school implementing a nail technology course shall designate at least two hundred forty (240) square feet of enclosed floor space for every ten students or fraction thereof. Enclosed space shall mean walls or partitions with a minimum height of six feet. Enclosed space shall be visually separated from adjoining areas.

    (2) Each cosmetology school implementing an esthetics course shall designate at least two hundred forty (240) square feet of enclosed floor space for every ten esthetics students or fraction thereof. Enclosed space shall mean walls or partitions with a minimum height of six feet. Enclosed space shall be visually separated from adjoining areas.
  3. Nail technology schools shall have a minimum of one thousand five hundred (1,500) square feet of floor space to accommodate no more than thirty-five (35) students at any given time. For more than thirty-five (35) students, additional space shall be designated proportionately.
  4. Esthetics schools shall have a minimum of one thousand five hundred (1,500) square feet of floor space to accommodate no more than thirty-five (35) students at any given time. For more than thirty-five (35) students, additional space shall be designated proportionately.
  5. Combination nail technology/esthetics schools shall have a minimum of two thousand (2,000) square feet of floor space to accommodate no more than forty-five (45) students at any given time. For more than forty-five (45) students, additional space shall be designated proportionately.
  6. Application Approval/Disapproval. Upon receipt of the properly completed application, prescribed fee and a detailed floor plan, the board may require a meeting with the applicant to discuss the proposed school.

    (1) The board shall review the application at the next scheduled board meeting following receipt of the completed application and must report the approval or denial of the proposed school.

    (2) If the board denies the application, the applicant shall be promptly notified in writing of the specific reasons of denial. Upon approval of the application, the board shall so notify the applicant and schedule a preliminary inspection for the purpose of determining the suitability of the proposed school's space and design. The inspection shall be conducted by the department and reported to the board.
  7. Final Inspection/License Issued.

    Prior to the final inspection, every school shall furnish:

    (1) A list of board approved equipment and sufficient training supplies, by quantity and type; and

    (2) A proposed course of study and schedule, in compliance with the board's mandatory minimum standard curriculum which said school shall teach; and

    (3) A list of texts and materials conducive to learning the prescribed curriculum; and

    (4) A schedule of the hours and days of the week the school will be in operation; and

    (5) The name and address and license number of each registered instructor to be employed. Each school shall employ at least one instructor for each course offered. If the number of students attending in any particular course is greater than twenty (20), then one additional instructor shall be employed for each twenty (20) additional students, or fraction thereof, attending; two instructors if the number of students in attendance in the school shall be more than forty (40), then one instructor for each additional twenty (20) students in attendance shall be employed; and

    (6) A surety bond to the board issued by a licensed bonding company doing business in this state except in the case of a public school district. Such bond shall be in the penal sum of fifty-thousand ($50,000) dollars, per location, and shall be conditioned upon the faithful performance of the terms and conditions of all contracts entered into between the school and persons enrolling therein. Suit on the bond may be brought by any student injured by the breach of any of the conditions of the approved contract between the student and the owner of the school on pre-paid tuition only. The bond shall be to the State of South Carolina in favor of every person who pays or deposits any money with the school as payment for instruction. Every bond shall continue in force and in effect until notice of termination is given by registered mail to the board and every bond shall set forth this fact; and

    (7) After the inspection and approval, a license to operate the school shall be issued.
  8. Change of Location/Ownership/School Closing.

    If, at any time during the year, the physical plant or operation of a school is moved to a new location or address, or if ownership is transferred, or if the controlling interest of a partnership or corporation is altered in such a way as to affect the ownership, or if the name of the school changes, then the license for such school shall become void and a new application shall be filed.

    (1) Upon receipt of application and prescribed fee for change of school owner and/or school name, the application shall be promptly processed and, if approved, a license issued. Proof of bond transferal must be required.

    (2) No school shall be reopened at a new location, until a new application is received by the board, accompanied by the prescribed fee. The same application and application procedures as a new school shall apply.

    (3) Any school terminating its operation shall inform the board at least thirty (30) working days prior to the anticipated termination date and in addition properly terminate its students. If the school is being transferred to a new owner the school must certify and transfer, to the new owner, any and all student records. If the school is being closed, certified student records must be provided to the board in a format approved by the board on or before the last day of operation. The school must provide to each current student a certified transcript detailing hours obtained, completed, and for which the school has been compensated.

    (4) Prior to school closure, a record of all students' transcripts, who are currently enrolled and who have met contractual obligations, must be submitted within ten working days, via certified mail, to the board office.

    (5) If a school desires to relocate temporarily, it shall notify the board to receive approval.

Can I operate a school and have a salon at the same location?

SECTION 40-13-290. Requirements and restrictions applicable to schools and salons; inspections.
(A) No school may be affiliated with or located at the same address as a salon operated for profit. All salons and schools shall have running hot and cold water and drainage in rooms used for salons or schools. The owner or manager of any salon or school shall not permit a person to sleep in, or use for residential purposes, a room used wholly or partly as a salon or school.

(B) The members of the board, or their authorized agents, may enter a salon or school at any reasonable time for purposes of inspection.

Who offers Board ordered disciplinary classes? 

Disciplinary classes do not count toward continuing education. 

For a list of Board ordered disciplinary classes. (pdf)

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