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How to Become a Licensed Esthetician in South Carolina

Rich in history and home to Civil War battlegrounds, South Carolina has miles of beaches and is known for its plentiful harvests of peaches and apples, as well as waterfront resorts.

For licensed estheticians, this state is rich in opportunities to help people look and feel their best. Whether it is helping vacationers relax at a resort or assisting clients of a medical spa to achieve the look they want, licensed estheticians in this state have plenty of opportunities.

If you’re planning on pursuing a career as an esthetician in the state of South Carolina, keep reading to find out what you must do to achieve your goal.

Esthetician License Requirements and Training Schools in South Carolina

Step 1: Complete a State Approved Esthetics Program

According to the South Carolina Board of Cosmetology, to be eligible for licensure in the state of South Carolina, you must:

  • Be at least 16 years of age
  • Have at least a 10th-grade education or equivalency
  • Successfully pass a 450-hour esthetics course at a board approved esthetics program
  • Pass a written and practical esthetician exam
  • Successfully complete 450 hours in classes in skin care at a school approved by the Board or comparable training approved by the board

In addition, your esthetics education and training must include the following State Board stipulations:

  • Professional Practices: Sanitation and Business Practice (50 hours)
  • Sciences: Skin Histology, Dermatology, and Function of Human Skin (120 hours)
  • Facial Treatments: Facial Massage, Electrical Current-Facial Treatments, etc. (125 hours)
  • Hair Removal: Depilatories, Tweezing, Waxing, Threading (50 hours)
  • Makeup: Purpose, Effects, Supplies, Preparation, Procedures (50 hours)
  • Body Wraps: Purpose, Effects, Types of Treatments, Supplies, Safety (40 hours)
  • South Carolina: State Law, Rules, and Regulations (15 hours)

It’s a good idea to make sure that the esthetician school you will be attending has been licensed by the South Carolina Board of Cosmetology.

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

Once you have completed your esthetics education and training, the next step is to apply for your licensing exams. The South Carolina State Board of Cosmetology has contracted Professional Credential Services (PCS) to administer the theory and practical esthetics exams. These exams must be passed within 2 years of completing your esthetics program.

To apply for your exams, you will need to create an account on the PCS website, specifically for the state of South Carolina. Once you’ve created an account, you can then apply for your exams online.

In addition to your online application, you will need to submit the following items:

  • A current 2″ × 2″ passport photo
  • A photocopy of your photo identification (valid driver’s license or U.S. passport)
  • A photocopy of your Social Security card
  • A photocopy of your high school diploma (or equivalent) that validates completion the 10th grade or higher
  • Your notarized Affidavit of Eligibility
  • Your notarized Esthetician Training Affidavit which must include your dates of enrollment and graduation as well as detailed hours by subject
  • Your notarized Affidavit of Completion, completed and signed by both you and your school instructor/official

You will also need to pay the $175 exam fee prior to final approval of your application.

Once your documents and application have been received and approved by the State Board, you will receive two important testing documents from PCS; your Theory Authorization to Test (ATT) Letter and the Practical Exam Admission Notice. These documents will include further instructions on scheduling your exams.

If your application was complete, you will be scheduled for your practical exam on the date you requested or the next available exam date. However, you will need to contact PSI in order to schedule your theory exam.


Registering and Scheduling the Written Exam

Once you receive your Authorization to Test (ATT) letter from Professional Credential Services, it is your responsibility to contact PSI and set up an appointment to take the written exam. You can register for examination by going here and doing the following:

  1. Select “Government/State Licensing Agencies” from the Select Organization drop-down menu.
  2. Select “South Carolina” from the Jurisdiction drop down menu (you may need to scroll down the menu).
  3. Select “SC Cosmetology” from the Select Account drop down menu.
  4. Click the “SC Esthetician Theory Examination – English” link in the Classification menu.
  5. After the webpage loads, click the “Sign In or Create an Account” button and either sign in or create a new account.

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 written exam using PSI’s Interactive Voice Response System during non business hours at 1-800-733-

If you must reschedule your written 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.


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

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

It is recommended that you arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the beginning of the exam in order to check in. If you arrive late, you will not be permitted to test and you will be required to reschedule your exam. You may even forfeit your exam fees.

You will want to make sure you bring the following items to your exams:

  • Admission Notice (practical) or ATT Letter (theory)
  • A current 2” x 2” passport-type color photo (no selfies)
  • Two (2) forms of identification – one form must be a government-issued photo ID (see page 19 of the Candidate Information Bulletin)
  • Examination Supplies for the practical exam (see pages 40-41 of the Candidate Information Bulletin)
  • Your own mannequin head (live models are no longer allowed as of May 23, 2016)


The Written Esthetics Exam

You will have 90 minutes to complete the written (theory) exam. This multiple-choice test will cover the following:

Scientific Concepts (55%)

A. Apply knowledge of infection control procedures
B. Demonstrate an understanding of basic knowledge of human physiology and anatomy
C. Demonstrate an understanding of histology and physiology of the skin
D. Demonstrate an understanding of skin disorders and diseases
E. Understand composition of body hair
F. Demonstrate an understanding of basic chemistry including the composition and purpose of cosmetic products

Skin Care and Services (45%)

A. Demonstrate an understanding of performing a client consultation and documentation related to:

1. Skin analysis
a. Fitzpatrick scale
b. Skin type
c. Skin condition
2. Client records (e.g., health history, intake form, consultation chart)
3. Treatment protocol
4. Contraindications for skin services

B. Demonstrate an understanding of cleansing procedures
C. Demonstrate an understanding of steaming procedures (i.e., towel and steamer/vaporizer)
D. Demonstrate an understanding of exfoliation procedures related to:

  1. Chemical (e.g., AHA, BHA, enzymes)
  2. Physical (e.g., scrubs, brushing, microdermabrasion)
  3. Gommage

E. Demonstrate an understanding of extraction procedures
F. Demonstrate an understanding of massage movements and effects
G. Demonstrate an understanding of the use of masks
H. Demonstrate an understanding of hair removal methods and procedures related to:

  1. Waxing (i.e., hard and soft)
  2. Tweezing

I. Demonstrate an understanding of principles of and procedures for makeup application
J. Demonstrate a knowledge of the use of electrical equipment during skin services
K. Demonstrate a basic knowledge of other services such as:

  1. Body treatments
  2. Eyelash extensions

You will be provided with an unofficial score report from PSI Services immediately after your written examination is complete.


The Practical Esthetics Exam

The practical exam covers 11 different core sections:

  1. Work Area and Client Preparation, and Set Up of Universal Supplies (First client)
  2. Cleansing of the Face with Product
  3. Exfoliating the Face with Product, Using Facial Brush, Including Towel Steaming
  4. Massaging the Face with Product
  5. Work Area and New Client Preparation, and Set Up of Supplies (Second client)
  6. Hair Removal of the Eyebrows by Tweezing and Using Simulated Soft Wax
  7. Hair Removal of the Upper Lip Using Hard Wax
  8. Particle Microdermabrasion on the Forehead
  9. Facial Mask and Conclusion of Facial Service
  10. Facial Makeup
  11. Eyelash Enhancement
  12. Blood Exposure Procedure

A score of at least 75% is required on both exams in order to pass.

Within 10 days after you have completed your exams, PCS will notify you of your results. They will also notify the State Board once all of your licensing requirements have been completed. You will then be issued your South Carolina esthetician license. Please be aware that this process can take up to 30 days.


Step 4: Renew Your SC Esthetician License Every Two Years

In South Carolina, you are required to renew your esthetician license every two years, no later than March 10th. A renewal courtesy notice is mailed to all licensed estheticians in January of odd-numbered years. You can renew your esthetician license online. The license renewal fee is $52.

After you have completed your first renewal, you will need to complete 12 hours of continuing education each renewal period. Six of these hours can be done online, however, the other six must be done in a classroom setting. Alternatively, you can complete two training or classroom sessions that are six hours each. You can keep track of your hours online through your account.


Esthetician License Reciprocity in South Carolina

Some estheticians from outside the state of South Carolina may qualify for licensure through endorsement.

In order to receive a South Carolina license via endorsement, you will need to:

  • Complete the Online Endorsement Application
  • Pay the $60 fee for license reciprocity using your credit or debit card
  • Upload a 2″ x 2″ passport-type photo that you have signed on the front
  • Upload the required documents listed on the first page of the application
  • Have passed the NIC theory and practical exams
  • Have at least 450-hours of esthetics training
  • Request that the State Board that currently holds your esthetician license send the South Carolina Board of Cosmetology a certified copy in order to verify that your current license is valid and in good standing

OR, if you would rather apply by mail:

  • Complete, sign, and print out the paper Endorsement Application (including the affidavit and other pages)
  • Pay the $60 fee for license reciprocity using a check or money order made payable to “South Carolina Board of Cosmetology”
  • Submit a 2″ x 2″ passport-type photo that you have signed on the front
  • Submit the required documents listed on the first page of the application
  • Have passed the NIC theory and practical exams
  • Have at least 450-hours of esthetics training
  • Request that the State Board that currently holds your esthetician license send the South Carolina Board of Cosmetology a certified copy in order to verify that your current license is valid and in good standing

Mail your completed and signed application, required documents, and fee payment to:

South Carolina Board of Cosmetology
P.O. Box 11329
Columbia, SC 29211-11329

Allow the State Board ten (10) business days to receive and process your application. You should receive your South Carolina esthetician license in the mail ten (10) business days after the Board approves and processes your application.


South Carolina State Board of Cosmetology Contact Information

South Carolina Cosmetology Board
Synergy Business Park
Kingstree Bldg
110 Centerview Drive
Columbia, SC 29210
Phone: (803) 896-4300

Office Hours: 8:30 a.m.- 5:00 p.m


South Carolina Written and Practical Exam Locations

Below is a map showing the locations of the written exams 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 Written Exam Locations in South Carolina

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