Cosmetology: How to Get Certified
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Applicants may obtain certification in one or more of five individual fields of practice as defined in Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) 690.005:
Barbering is a separate discipline from hair design. Barbers shampoo, cut, style, condition and singe (lightly burn hair ends with a lighted wax taper) hair, but they cannot provide chemical hair treatments (see Hair Design).
Barbers also shave, trim and cut the beard, and massage the scalp, face and neck, applying facial and scalp treatments with creams, lotions, oils and other cosmetic preparations, either by hand or mechanical appliances, but such appliances shall not be galvanic (direct electrical current) or faradic (interrupted, or alternating, electrical current).
Estheticians provide services to keep skin healthy and attractive. Estheticians use their hands or mechanical or electrical apparatuses or appliances for cleansing, stimulating, manipulating, exfoliating or applying lotions or creams and for the temporary removal of hair, makeup artistry. facial and body wrapping, and facial and body waxing.
Hair designers shampoo, cut, style, condition and singe (see Barbering) hair and apply chemical treatments such as coloring, dyeing, relaxing and permanent waves. They also temporarily curl and braid hair as well as shave, trim and cut the beard or mustache.
Hair designers also massage the scalp and neck, but not the face, if in conjunction with the above services.
Nail technicians cut, trim, clean, polish, color or tint the natural nails on hands and feet and massage, cleanse, treat and beautify the hands, arms (below the elbow) and legs (below the knee). They also apply, sculpt and remove artificial nails.
Natural Hair Care
“Natural hair care” means the braiding, cornrowing, extending, lacing, locking, sewing, twisting, weaving or wrapping of human hair, natural fibers, synthetic fibers or hair extensions through the use of hands or simple devices such as clips, combs, hairpins or needle and thread.
Scissors may be used to trim synthetic fibers, hair extensions or sewn-in weave extensions as is necessary to perform natural hair care activities or to make customized wigs from natural hair, natural fibers, synthetic fibers or hair extensions.
Natural hair care does not include the use of scissors except when trimming synthetic fibers, hair extensions or sewn-in weave extensions as is necessary to perform natural hair care activities or to make customized wigs from natural hair, natural fibers, synthetic fibers or hair extensions.
Natural hair care also does not include the use of penetrating chemical hair treatments, chemical hair coloring agents, chemical hair straightening agents, chemical hair joining agents, permanent wave styles or chemical hair bleaching agents.
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All practitioners who provide services in Oregon must do so in a licensed facility
, which is defined as "...an establishment operated on a regular or irregular basis for the purpose of providing services in one or more fields of practice."
The only exception is a practitioner who obtains a freelance authorization
, which is a written authorization allowing a pracititioner to practice outside of or away from a licensed facility.
The third type of cosmetology business license is an independent contractor
registration. An independent contractor is defined as a practitioner "...who is not under the control and direction of a facility license holder." Temporary facility permits
allow holders to operate a facility on a temporary basis for a period not to exceed 30 consecutive calendar days. More information
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Natural Hair Care Training Module
The Natural Hair Care Training Module is solely for the purpose of preparing individuals with the necessary information to practice natural hair care in Oregon. The information was obtained through the Oregon Administrative Rules Chapter 817 and Oregon Revised Statues Chapter 690 for cosmetology and the Milady Standard Natural Hair Care and Braiding textbook. Topics within the presentation include licensing and certification, practice standards, facility standards, chemical storage and hair characteristics.
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Practical Examinations for Barbering, Esthetics, Hair Design and Nail Technology - Both hourly-based and competency-based schools require students to pass a state-sanctioned practical examination, conducted by a licensed career school meeting HECC criteria and standards.
In collaboration with HECC, the Health Licensing Office (HLO) regularly conducts performance evaluations of state-sanctioned practical examinations at Oregon licensed career schools to guarantee compliance with HECC criteria and standards.
Oregon recognizes the practical examination as the first step in a two-step examination process toward licensure.
Graduates of both hourly-based and competency-based schools in Oregon as well as applicants from out of state obtaining certification through reciprocity and experience equivalency (see below) must pass a written examination to obtain certification.
Written Examination Information for all fields of practice:
- The written examination is conducted on a walk-in basis (no appointment necessary).
- HLO office hours to begin testing are Monday 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Tuesday 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and Wednesday through Friday 8 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
- Applicants who are taking two or more fields of practice examinations should arrive as early as possible (no later than noon) to complete their examinations by 4:30 p.m. at the latest. Applicants taking four fields of practice examinations should arrive and be ready to test at 9 a.m.
- Please note: If you are on parole or probation, you must provide a letter of release from your probation or parole officer authorizing you to obtain an authorization to practice. If you are on bench probation, or probation with the court, you must provide documentation of your conditions of the probation.
Special-accommodation examinations are also available. Visit the Health Licensing Office (HLO) forms page to download and complete an Accommodation Request form to request special accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
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HLO and the Board of Cosmetology established requirements, including waiting periods and additional training, for applicants who fail the written examination and must retake the examination after one or more failed attempts.
Barbering, Esthetics, Hair Design and Nail Technology Retake Requirements
After the third and sixth failed attempts, applicants must obtain additional training from an Oregon educational institution.
Printable Examination Retake Policy
All cosmetology examinations (except Natural Hair Care; see below) waiting periods and additional training:
|After First Failed Attempt
||Required to wait seven calendar days before second attempt |
|Afte Second Failed Attempt
||Required to wait seven calendar days before third attempt |
|After Third and Sixth Failed Attempts
||Required to: |
- Wait 30 calendar days before taking fourth and/or seventh attempt
- Prior to fourth and/or seventh attempts, submit Certification of Additional Training certificate from an Oregon educational institution to Health Licensing Office (HLO)
- Repply and pay application processing fee
|After Fourth and Fifth Failed Attempts
||Required to wait seven calendar days before retaking examination |
|After Seventh Failed Attempt
||To be determined by the HLO and Board of Cosmetology |
Natural Hair Care Retake Requirements
What Applicant Does Next
|First and Second Failed Attempts
||May be taken the same day|
|Third and all Subsequent Failed Attempts
||Required to wait seven calendar days before next attempt|
On Aug. 17, 2015, the Oregon Board of
Cosmetology voted to adopt new blueprints for the barbering, hair
design, esthetics and nail technology field of practice written
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The new exam blueprints provide career schools with
the information they need to prepare for the new written exams, which
will be implemented on Jan. 1, 2016.
The blueprints, linked
below, provide the following information for each exam: the number of
questions, the time allotted, the sources used to reference each
question, the percent of questions from each domain (or category), and
the percent of questions asked from each skill set listed with in each
category. The number of questions and the time allotted for exams has
not changed; however, the percentage of questions from each domain and
each skill set within each domain has changed substantially.
HLO office hours for testing remain 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, and 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Tuesdays.
you have any questions or need additional information, please contact
the Health Licensing Office at 503-373-1816 or check out our website.
• Barber exam blueprint
• Esthetics exam blueprint
• Hair exam blueprint
• Nail exam blueprint
To stay up-to-date on Board of Cosmetology business, join our interested parties mailing list.
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- Reciprocity allows a practitioner credentialed in another state to qualify for Oregon certification. An applicant must:
- Submit documentation—an affidavit of licensure—to show a minimum standard of quality assurance and competency.
The out-of-state regulatory authority must deliver the affidavit of licensure to HLO in a sealed envelope or via pre-approved electronic transmission. Applicants are responsible for any fee from the originating regulatory authority.
If the affidavit discloses any unresolved disciplinary actions and/or outstanding civil fines, the applicant must resolve these issues before obtaining certification in Oregon.
- Submit a qualifying application and fee for certification through reciprocity. HLO sends application materials to the applicant after reviewing and approving the affidavit of licensure.
- Pay examination fee and pass the written examination, which includes the Oregon Laws & Rules examination and an examination for each field of practice for which the applicant is qualified and wishes to become certified.
- Pay certification fee per field of practice. Applicants who pass the examination at HLO in Salem and pay certification fee(s) obtain same-day certification.
Application Process and Fees
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Required documentation and fees for Barbering, Esthetics, Hair Design and Nail Technology
The following materials and information are required: official transcript from a licensed cosmetology career school (in-state applicants) or affidavit of licensure (out-of-state applicants), two pieces of government-issued photo identification, and Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification number. View identification requirements
Applicants must complete an application form and pay a non-refundable application fee, examination fee per field of practice, examination fee for the Oregon Laws and Rules examination and an original cerificate fee for each field of practice. View Fees
Required documentation and fees for Natural Hair Care
The following materials and information is required: A copy of the Natural Hair Care Certificate of Completion showing proof of having completed the training module for Natural Hair Care, two pieces of government-issued photo identification, and Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification number. View identification requirements
Applicants must complete an application form, pay a non-refundable application fee and an original certificate fee. There are no examination fees for Natural Hair Care. View Fees
The Health Licensing Office (HLO) has produced a how-to guide for recent cosmetology school graduates and people appliying for natural hair care certification that highlights the steps necessary to gain certification. Examination and Application: A How-to Guide
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Application for certificaiton renewal should be made in advance of the certification inactive date, which is the last day of the month two years from the date of issuance.
Renewal applications are mailed to practitioners approximately six weeks prior to certification expiration courtesy of HLO / Board of Cosmetology.
If you have had a legal name change please see the list of acceptable documents to prove your current full legal name. You will need to provide provide this documentation in order to renew your certification.
Note: If a practitioner two-year certificate goes inactive, there is a three-year window to renew by paying the current renewal fee(s) and late fee(s).
Certification Reinstatement after Three Years in Inactive Status
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Practitioners whose certificate is inactive for three years or more must take and pass both the practical and written examinations (within two years of re-application), reapply for certification and pay all application, examination and certification renewal fees.
Practitioner certification turns to inactive status if the practitioner does not renew prior to the date of certification renewal. Practitioners in inactive status who provide services to the public are in violation.
Note: Independent contractor registrations and freelance authorizations that are not renewed become dormant. These authorizations do not become inactive and do not expire. To reactivate a dormant independent contractor registration or freelance authorization, the holder must contact the agency.