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California State Board of Cosmetology: Esthetician License Requirements

What is an Esthetician?

Estheticians are professionals who help people look and feel their best. As a state that many celebrities, musicians, movie stars, and people with a lot of money reside in, California has a plethora of jobs for new and experienced estheticians.

An esthetician performs waxing, facials, and other various skin treatments. Salons, resorts, wellness centers, dermatology offices, and spas all hire estheticians to perform work on their clientele. Additionally, estheticians can work in cosmetology marketing, as a beauty consultant, or even as a paramedical esthetician.


What Does an Esthetician Do?

Estheticians can educate clients on ways to improve the health and aesthetics of their skin. Estheticians begin their job by assessing the condition and appearance of the skin. Usually, they focus on the face, neck, and chest. They consult with their clients regarding which treatments such as a mask, peel, or a scrub that they feel they would most benefit from.

Estheticians are also licensed to remove hair by means of wax, lasers, and other treatments such as:

• Threading
• Chemical depilatories
• Anti-aging treatments
• Microdermabrasion
• Head, neck, and scalp massage
• Moisturizing body treatments
• Blackhead extraction

Estheticians can clean skin and apply makeup and other skin care products as well as instruct their clients on how to do the same. When necessary, they will refer clients out to other skincare specialists such as a dermatologist. Disinfecting equipment and cleaning work areas are other responsibilities of an esthetician.

Some estheticians even sell skin care products or operate their own salons. In these cases, they must complete managerial duties and run their own business.

If this line of work interests you, keep reading to find out how to work as a professional esthetician in the state of California.

Esthetician License Requirements and Training Schools in California

Step 1: Complete a State Approved Esthetics Program

In California, estheticians must complete their education at a school approved by the California State Board of Cosmetology and acquire a license before practicing. If you are pursuing a career as an esthetician, you can choose to go to an esthetician program at a school of cosmetology or a school completely dedicated to the esthetics field.

Either way, your school must meet the requirements set by the California State Board of Cosmetology. In California, esthetics students are required to successfully complete 600 hours of coursework as well as a practical training. During their schooling, estheticians learn about ethics and professional standards, business standards and practices, makeup artistry, human anatomy and physiology, and sanitation.

In order to qualify for a California Esthetician License students are required to fulfill the minimum number of hours of theory and/or application in the following subjects:

  • Facials (350 hours of Technical Instruction and Practical Training)
  • Manual, Electrical, and Chemical Facials (70 hours of Technical Instruction/140 Practical Operations)
  • Preparation (15 hours of Technical Instruction)
  • Health and Safety (200 hours of Technical Instruction)
  • Laws and Regulations (10 hours of Technical Instruction)
  • Health and Safety Considerations (40 hours of Technical Instruction)
  • Disinfection and Sanitation (10 hours of Technical Instruction)
  • Anatomy and Physiology (15 Hours of Technical Instruction)
  • Hair Removal and Make-up (50 hours of Technical Instruction and Practical Training)
  • Eyebrow Beautification (25 hours of Technical Instruction and 50 Practical Operations)
  • Make-up (20 hours of Technical Instruction and 40 Practical Operations)

In addition to the subjects listed above, the California State Board of Cosmetology also recommends that students receive adequate training in the area of communication skills that includes professional ethics, salesmanship, decorum, record keeping, client service records, basic tax information relating to booth renters, independent contractors, employees, and employers.

Let Esthetician Schooling Connect You With a High Quality Esthetician School in Your Area!

Are you ready to take the next step and begin your career as a well-paid esthetician? Esthetician Schooling has partnered with some of the best esthetician schools in the nation.  Our huge network of nationally recognized esthetician schools will make it easy for you to find the right school and get started training immediately!

The beauty schools in our network contain one or more of the following high quality standards:

  • State Board Recognition
  • NACCAS Accreditation
  • Student Financial Aid
  • Job Placement Assistance for Those Who Qualify

To get started, simply fill out the quick 1-minute application below.


Step 2: Complete and Submit the Esthetician Application for Examination

You cannot practice as an esthetician until you pass the written and practical examination. In order to sit for the esthetician exam in the state of California, you must have completed 600 hours of coursework. Additionally, you must be at least 17 years of age and have successfully finished the 10th grade in order to apply for the examination.

You must pay the initial licensing fee of $115 and submit the Esthetician Application for Examination. Your school will also need to submit a Proof of Training Document to the California State Board of Cosmetology in order to prove that you have completed your 600 hours of training. You will also need to register with this website.


Step 3: Take and Pass the Written and Practical Esthetician Examinations

Once you have been approved to take the exam, you will receive instructions on how to schedule your written and practical esthetician exams. These are usually done on the same day.

The Esthetician Written Exam is administered by PSI Services LLC. It is a computer-based exam that is administered at any of the 25 exam centers across the state of California. The exam is administered in English, Spanish, Korean, and Vietnamese. You may be able to request approval to use an interpreter if you cannot read or write English at a 10th grade level.

Once you are scheduled to take your exam, you do have the option of rescheduling the written examination on another day at one of PSI’s 25 computer-based testing sites.


Preparing for the Written and Practical Exams

The National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology (NIC) recommends the following reference materials to help you prepare for and pass the written (theory) and practical esthetics exams, which can be purchased at discounted prices on Amazon:

We also recommend that you purchase and study the following books in preparation for your exams:


What to Bring to the Exam

You are required to bring your admission letter, the required supplies and equipment listed in the Candidate Information Bulletin (CIB), a valid/current Government issued ID and if you are a Pre-Applicant student it is recommended you bring your POT in a sealed envelope from your school.

You are required to use a mannequin head(s) for all services required on the practical examination. It is the your responsibility to come prepared for the practical examination with your own mannequin head(s).

Mannequin heads that are pre-marked or have make-up or any other unauthorized markings are NOT allowed for any part of the practical examination. However, your mannequin head must have eyebrows.

Be sure to download and review the Candidate Information Bulletin for more details about the California Esthetics Practical Examination. The Candidate Information Bulletin is also available in Spanish, Korean, and Vietnamese.


The Esthetics Written Exam

The licensure exam has 100 questions and you are given two hours to complete them all. Scientific concepts account for 60 percent of the test questions while esthetics practices are the other 40 percent. Topics covered in the exam will include:

• Functions of the skin
• Infection control
• Disorders of the skin
• Chemistry
• Anatomy and physiology

Be sure to download and review the PSI Services Candidate Information Bulletin for more details about the Esthetician Written Exam.


The Esthetics Practical Exam

The practical exam is administered by the California State Board of Cosmetology in two different locations, Fairfield and Glendale.

The practical exam covers five areas of esthetics including:

• Client setup and protection
• Hair removal of the eyebrows
• Massaging the face
• Facial mask
• Facial makeup

You will have 90 minutes to complete the practical exam. Please be advised that you cannot reschedule the practical exam.


Studying for the Exam

There are many resources for aspiring estheticians to study for the California licensing exam. Studying with others who will take the same exam, reviewing your course materials, and taking practice exams can all help you focus your studying on topics you need to work on and help you pass the exam. Grab your buddies and your books and prepare for success.


Step 4: Renew Your CA Esthetician License Every Two Years

Once you have obtained your esthetician license in California, you will be required to renew it every two years in the same month that it was issued. The fee for renewal is $50. You have two options to renew; with a paper application or online through the Board’s licensing system.

Continuing education is not required for license renewal in California, however, it is not a bad idea to complete some courses every year in order to update your knowledge and skills. Joining one of the many professional esthetic or cosmetology associations can also help you advance in your career.


California State Board of Cosmetology Contact Information

California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology
2420 Del Paso Road
Suite 100
Sacramento, CA 95834

Toll-Free: 1-800-952-5210
Fax: (916) 575-7281


California Written and Practical Exam Locations

Below is a map showing the locations of the written exams administered by PSI Services LLC as well as the practical exam administered by the California State Board of Cosmetology.

Before you arrive at a PSI test center, please be sure to call PSI Services toll-free at (800) 733-9267 to confirm the test center’s current address and inquire about their hours of operation.

To inquire about the BOBC Examination Facilities’ current address and hours of operation, call the BOBC toll-free at (800) 952-5210.

Map of Written and Practical Exam Locations in California

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