Surprising Cosmetology Careers and Reasons to Renew

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Since the first wave of pandemic closures, many stylists have reconsidered their cosmetology license.  Let’s walk you through why renewing your license matters even if you’re not working in a salon and alternatives to letting your license lapse. Then, we’ll look at some careers where you can use your cosmetology license, so you don’t depend on the salon as your sole source of income.



First Things First: What Do You Need To Renew Your Cosmetology License?



In most states, renewing your cosmetology license is pretty straightforward, and is only done every two years. If you hold a license in multiple states, you’ll need to remember to renew all of them, ideally at the same time.

With some exceptions, here’s what you’ll need:

  • a completed renewal application (print or online)
  • proof of completion for any required continuing education
  • payment of required fees, which vary by state, ranging from $25 -$100+



Why You Should Renew Your License – Even If You’re Not Working



If your license isn’t renewed on time, some states provide a 90-day grace period. Late renewals usually mean late fees, extra continuing education requirements, or retaking the board exams. If your license lapses and becomes delinquent, it’s illegal to perform cosmetology services, regardless of your years behind the chair. So, even if you’re not working in a salon right now, if there’s a small chance that you might again, it’s worth keeping your license up to date.

Pro Tip: If you are experiencing financial hardship, don’t let your license lapse without first contacting your state board of cosmetology. In certain situations, your renewal fees might be waived, deferred, or structured into a payment plan. Some states, like Florida, have even waived all license renewal fees during the pandemic.



Black woman thinking while looking out a window
Photo by Katerina Holmes from Pexels



Not Using Your License? Here’s What To Do Instead of Letting It Lapse

The biggest reason you shouldn’t let your license lapse is the lesson everyone has learned from 2020: life is unpredictable. Keeping an active license allows more career options, a trade that you can take just about anywhere, and something to fall back on later.

Cosmetology Careers That Might Surprise You

Sure, you could use your cosmetology chops to become a salon manager or makeup artist.  But did you know there are a lot of unexpected places your license can take your career? To quote Dr. Seuss, “Oh, the places you’ll go!”



Woman's hand mixing professional color in a bowl
Photo by CottonBro from Pexels



Cosmetology Instructor or State Board member. Whether you work at a cosmetology school, teach cosmetology and advanced techniques online, or work for a brand as a salon educator, teaching is a valuable way to share your skill. In many states, you can even use your license to become a cosmetology board member or state examiner.

Art Director for Salons or Brands. If you’re always on the cutting edge of fashion, or you can pick a trend before it explodes, this job is for you! From hair and fashion to colors and seasonal trends, you’re the fashion-forward maven in charge of it all. In this field, you’ll drive the creative direction, imagery, and concept of a salon, beauty brand, or company.

Fashionable black woman in sunglasses standing against a brightly colored wall
Photo by Godisable Jacob from Pexels

Salon Development Consultant. Got a head for the business end of things? Blend your business sense with your years behind the chair to help new salon owners and investors get their salon set up for success. You could also be the regional representative for a national salon brand, training new employees, and getting new franchise locations ready to open.  

Permanent Makeup Artist. What do you get when you mix a makeup artist with a tattoo artist? A rewarding career! You can use this certification to work in full-service salons, tattoo studios, doctor or dermatologist offices, and day spas. You can concentrate on traditional makeup techniques or more specialized fields, like restorative pigmentation and scar coverage.

Brand Writer. If you’ve got a flair for the written word, you can take your hands-on industry experience into writing for brands, salons, and even independent stylists. With the computer skills to accompany your writing, you can maintain brand blogs, advertising campaigns, paid media, and other “inside-the-scenes” work. 

Wig Maker. Whether you’re designing dramatic runway looks or creating hairpieces for chemotherapy patients, wig making is a way to use your license to do something different that can be full of excitement and personal fulfillment. Wig making can also be a solid side hustle if you start an online store.

Special effects mermaid makeup close-up
Photo by Paz shots from Pexels

Special Effects Makeup Artist (SFX Artist.) This “monster” of a job takes you behind the scenes of film and stage and allows you to push your creativity to the limits and beyond.  has work available for SFX artists in film, television, photography, print media, art installations, and more.





Your cosmetology license is a valuable asset that’s worth renewing simply because it gives you greater flexibility and keeps all your options open. With Vagaro’s all-in-one scheduling and business software and Vagaro Merchant Services, you’ll be ready for whatever the future holds for your career. Try Vagaro for free for 30 days and see how much more productive you can be with the right tools. Want more? For a limited time, use code 2MonthsFree and get an extra month to try out Vagaro! 

Header Image: Marcus Aurelius from Pexels

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P.S. If you own or manage a business that charges rent and fees, learn more about how you can do that with Vagaro’s new Automatic Rent & Fees feature.