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How to Become a Licensed Esthetician in Iowa

The State of Iowa has seen many changes over the later half of the 20th Century. While once a state filled with rural area residents, more than 60 percent people have moved into urban areas.

Iowa’s industries are changing as well. Agriculture used to be by far the biggest industry in the state. This industry continues but alongside others like technology, finance, manufacturing, and even the beauty industry. In fact, you could have a successful career here in the beauty industry as an esthetician.

If you are considering a career as a licensed esthetician in the state of Iowa, there are several important pieces of information you should know. Keep reading to find out what they are.

Esthetician License Requirements and Training Schools in Iowa

Step 1: Graduate from Esthetician School

The Iowa Board of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences requires those desiring to take the esthetician licensing exam to have a high school diploma and a minimum of 600 hours of education from a board-licensed cosmetology school. Iowa does not have an esthetician apprenticeship program like some states do.

The state board also mandates that your 600 hours of education include 150 core life sciences hours, 115 hours of esthetics theory, and a minimum of 350 hours of applied practical instruction. You will learn esthetics theory and gain hands-on experience in the following topics when you graduate:

  • Skin assessment, care, and treatment
  • Exfoliation, microdermabrasion, and facials
  • Hair growth and methods of removal
  • Makeup application and techniques
  • Esthetician services in the medical field
  • Ethics and professional development
  • Business skills, safety, and infection control

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: Take and Pass the National Theory Licensing Exam

Even though the Iowa Board of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences is the governing body over estheticians in the state, it contracts with PSI Services LLC to administer the NIC National Theory Licensing Exam.


Registering for the National Theory Licensing Exam

The Iowa Board of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences does not require you to apply to take the examination. Instead, you can take the exam at the discretion of your educational institution. Once they have given you approval and notified PSI Services, you may call or go online to pay the fee and to schedule your exam.

The fee for the esthetician licensing examination is $55 and must be paid before you are allowed to schedule a testing date. There are several locations throughout the state where the esthetics theory exam is administered.

In order to sit for the exam follow these steps:

  1. Check with your school to make sure they have sent your information to PSI and agree that you are ready to take the test.
  2. Once you receive notice from PSI that you are eligible to test, pay your $55 fee directly to PSI.
  3. Call PSI or go online to schedule your exam.


Scheduling Your Exam

It is your responsibility to schedule your own exam. You can schedule the exam online by going here and doing the following:

  1. Select “Government/State Licensing Agencies” from the Select Organization drop-down menu.
  2. Select “Georgia” from the Jurisdiction drop down menu.
  3. Select “IA Cosmetology” from the Select Account drop down menu.
  4. Click the “IA Esthetician Theory Examination – English” link in the Examination menu.
  5. After the webpage loads, click the “Sign In or Create an Account” button and either sign in or create a new account.
  6. Follow the instructions that are given to you.
  7. You will be required to pay an exam registration fee of $55 using your Visa, Mastercard, American Express, or debit card.

Please note that you must register for the exam with your LEGAL first and last name as it appears on the government issued identification you will be using at the actual test site to identify yourself with.

You also have the option of scheduling your exam over the phone by calling a PSI representative toll-free at 1-800-733-9267 (Monday through Friday from 7:30 AM to 8:00 PM EST and Saturday from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM EST).

You can also schedule your theory exam using PSI’s Interactive Voice Response System during non business hours at 1-800-733-

If you must reschedule your exam, you can do so without forfeiting your fee by contacting PSI at least 2 business days prior to your scheduled exam date by calling1-800-733-9267 and using the automated system.

Be sure to read the PSI Candidate Information Bulletin, as it will help prepare you for the exam.


What to Bring to the Exam

Be sure to arrive at the examination site at least 30 minutes prior to the scheduled time. This time is used for identification and to familiarize yourself with the examination process. Failure to arrive early will result in dismissal from the exam and forfeiture of your exam fees.

You will also need to bring 2 forms of proper identification. Your identification documents must be current and have your photograph and signature.

Proper forms of primary identification include:

  •  A valid state issued driver’s license
  • A state issued identification card
  • A U.S. government issued passport
  • A U.S. government issued Military Identification card
  • A U.S. government issues Alien Registration card

Proper forms of secondary identification include:

  • A signed credit card
  • Your Social Security card
  • Your U.S. issued birth certificate with raised seal

The required forms of identification above must match the first and last name under which you registered with PSI.


Preparing for the Written Exam

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

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


Taking the National Theory Licensing Exam

You will be given 90 minutes to complete the examination. The exam will consist of 55 percent questions about scientific topics and 45 percent skin care and services. Specific areas of study include:

  • Safety procedures
  • Infection control
  • Cell structure and growth
  • Microbiology
  • Structure of the skin and hair follicles
  • Skin disorders
  • Chemistry and cosmetic products
  • Skin analysis
  • Exfoliation, steaming, and hair removal
  • Massage

In order to pass, you must score a 75 percent or better on the theory exam. You will be given your results before leaving the test center.

Some practice questions can be found in the NIC Candidate Information Bulletin.


Step 3: Submit the Esthetician Application for Licensure

Once you have passed the exam, you can then submit the application for esthetician licensure. You have two options:

  • Complete your license application online and pay the $60 application fee using your credit or debit card.
  • Print the paper application and mail it along with your $60 check or money order made payable to the Iowa Cosmetology Board of Arts and Sciences.

You will also need to request that your education provider sends your official transcripts to the board. They cannot be sent by you, the applicant.


Step 4: Renew Your IA Esthetician License Every Two Years

In order to keep practicing legally in the state of Iowa, you are required to renew your esthetician license every two years by March 31st. You can renew online or by completing and submitting the paper application.

A total of eight hours of continuing education is required during each renewal period; two hours must pertain specifically to Iowa rules and regulations while four hours must be specific to the practice of esthetics.

It is your responsibility to keep a log of your educational hours and topics to turn into the board with your renewal application and fee of $60 (fee amount subject to change).


Esthetician License Reciprocity in Iowa

Under certain circumstances, the Iowa Board of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences will grant licensure by endorsment. In order to qualify for endorsement, you must have held an esthetician license for at least 12 of the last 24 months in your previous state. You will need to pay a $60 licensing fee and a $20 fee for checking your license records in another state.

If you passed a written and practical esthetician exam prior to the year 2000, the board will check to see if the exam you took meets the Iowa requirements.

If you passed an esthetics written exam after the year 2000 and it was not the NIC exam and does not meet state board requirements the board requires you to take and pass the NIC written exam in order to be licensed as an esthetician in Iowa.

To apply for endorsement, you use the same online application or paper application that regular applicants use.

The Iowa State Board will determine if you are required to take the National Theory exam upon receipt of the following documents:

  • A notarized copy of a passing score on the national theory examination taken in the licensing state for each
    practice discipline.
  • An original letter of Verification of Licensure sent to the Iowa Board of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences from
    every state in which a license was issued.
  • If the state where you are licensed provides online verification, include a printout of your information from the
    online verification system. Online verification must include any disciplinary action taken.

Verification letters must:

  • Have a raised state seal and be sent in an envelope with a state-printed return address.
  • Show current licensure status in the practice discipline(s) for which you are seeking licensure in Iowa.


Iowa State Board of Cosmetology Contact Information

Bureau of Professional Licensure
Iowa Department of Public Health
Lucas State Office Bldg
5th Floor
321 E. 12th Street
Des Moines, IA 50319-0075
Phone: (515) 281-0254
Fax: (515) 281-3121


Iowa Theory Exam Locations

Below is a map showing the locations of the National Theory Licensing Exam administered by PSI Services. Before you arrive at a PSI test center, please be sure to call PSI Services toll-free at 1-800-733-9267 to confirm the test center’s current address and inquire about their hours of operation.


Map of Theory Exam Locations in Iowa

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