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Last updated: October 15, 2021

California Eliminates State Board Exam and Reduces Licensure Hours

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New Bill Establishes Shorter Program Hairstylist License

Future California stylists won’t have to take a hands-on exam and will need fewer hours of training to become licensed now that a new bill has passed, bringing major changes to the state’s professional beauty industry.  


The bill—known as SB 803—reduced the cosmetology and barbering programs to 1,000 hours of training. Previously, cosmetology requires 1,600 hours and barbering required 1,500. The bill also established a new 600-hour program for hairstylists that want to offer cutting and styling services only (color and chemical straightening services are excluded).  


Related: New bill would eliminate licensing requirements for cosmetologists & barbers


It also removed the practical examination completely. The changes start on January 1, 2022. The legislation also: 


  • Streamlines the process for stylists looking to transfer an out-of-state license
  • Updates the requirements for a mobile unit 
  • Creates a new 39-hour pre-apprenticeship program administered by the CA Board of Cosmetology (all other apprenticeship requirements remain the same)
  • Allows estheticians to offer lash and brow tints and perms
  • Increases CA board members from 9 to 13 


These changes follow other states that have also eased license requirements for cosmetology students. Pennsylvania eliminated the hands-on practical exam in 2014, while Texas reduced the required hours for students to 1,000 in June of 2019.


Related: Natural hair discrimination banned in eight states: Read here!


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