How to Become a Cosmetologist in Iowa

How to Become a Cosmetologist in Iowa

If you are not sure how to choose the best career for you, but you are interested in making people beautiful, then you should consider becoming a cosmetologist.

Take your talents and preferences and let them decide which path is truly right for you.

A career in cosmetology can be fun as you will be working with various people, it can be rewarding when you see that a person is satisfied with your work.

The cosmetology job opportunities grow, which means that this is a career with a stable future.

Popular Programs

Job Description

The cosmetologist vocation includes barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists.

Barbers are there to cut, trim, shampoo, and style hair of male clients, as well as facial shaving.

Hairdressers offer hair services, like shampooing, cutting, coloring, and styling for both male and female customers.

Cosmetologists offer facial treatments and makeup applications and can sell skincare products.

They can be employed by somebody else and work part-time.

However, those who are self-employed have long hours, work in the evenings and weekends.

Cosmetology Programs in Iowa

When it comes to Iowa, it is not a place where one can think that fashion is flourishing.

Still, there are areas where spas and salons are working with passion and keeping the standards up.

Young people interested in becoming cosmetologists need to have in mind that schooling is obligatory,

Besides the high school diploma or equivalent, cosmetologists need to finish cosmetology schools which provide them with modern skills training for approximately $17,807.

The school that should be chosen is the one that offers a program that is accredited.

Some of the top schools in Iowa are:

  • American Hair Academy – Mount Pleasant.
  • Aveda Institute – Des Moines.
  • Capri College – Cedar Rapids.
  • EQ School of Hair Design – Bluffs.
  • Faust Institute of Cosmetology – Storm Lake.
  • Iowa School of Beauty – Des Moines.
  • La James College and Beauty School – Mason City.
  • PCI Academy – Ames.

Postsecondary vocational school programs usually last at least 9 months.

They offer their students a chance to get acquainted with the basics necessary for the perfect functioning of a salon.

They learn about:

  • Hair and Scalp Treatments
  • Hair Arranging
  • Chemical Waving
  • Chemical Relaxing
  • Hair Coloring
  • Facial Treatments
  • Hair Removal
  • Acrylic Nails
  • Personal/Business Development
  • Career Management

The Iowa Board of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences determines the hours needed for the achievement of a cosmetology license in the state and they vary from specialty to specialty.

While a Cosmetologist needs to have at least 2100 hours, electrologist 450 hours and esthetician 600 hours, nail technologist is required to have just 325 hours of education.

For those who are eager to become cosmetology instructors will need at least 1000 hours.

Cosmetology Exams in Iowa

Attending cosmetology school is fun, fast and it gives you both theoretical and practical instruction, which will be extremely beneficial for examination and your career as a cosmetologist.

Upon graduation, you are obliged to take the National-Interstate Council cosmetology exam.

A passing grade should be a 75% or higher and the test consists of two sections:

  • The National Cosmetology Written Exam which takes 90 minutes to be completed
  • National Cosmetology Practical Exam, usually lasts three hours.

The tests are there to prove that you have gained required knowledge during the studies and that you have learned how to perform the daily cosmetology duties, such as:

  • Thermal Curling
  • Haircutting
  • Chemical Waving
  • Relaxer Retouch
  • Candidate Summary
  • Final Cleanup


The license can be gained based on examination or endorsement.

For the applicants who ask for a license for the first time, they need to submit a completed, board-approved, cosmetology application, cosmetology application fee of $60, a diploma from cosmetology school and the official scores from the NIC Exam.

For the applicants who ask for a license based on endorsement, meaning that they have held a license in another state, they need to provide the notarized copy of passing score on the national theory exam and the original letter of verification of licensure.

All the documentation should be sent to the following address:

Board of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences
Professional Licensure Division
5th Floor Lucas State Office Building
Des Moines, Iowa 50319

Keeping Your License Current in Iowa

The license needs to be renewed in two years and the renewal period for Iowa begins on April 1st and ends on March 31st every two years.

Unlike many other states, the state of Iowa requires the completion of continuing education so that a license can be renewed.

The minimum requirement is eight credit hours per biannual renewal cycle, four of which should be related to the discipline of cosmetology and two hours should be about Iowa cosmetology law, rules, and sanitation.

The new licensees do not need to complete the credits for their first renewal period.

There are no specific education sponsors or providers, but the continuing education can be gained only through the programs that contribute directly to your professional competency, are conducted by a trained and licensed individual and offer a certificate of completion or evidence of successful completion.

Your continuing education hours are left to you to keep track and collect the information about your courses which will need to be provided later to the Board to renew your license.

The information that you need to collect are:

  • Course Title
  • Date(s)
  • Contact Hours
  • Sponsor
  • Licensee’s Name

Average Annual Cosmetologist Salary in Iowa

Licensed cosmetologists can legally work in Iowa.

For the beginners, it is advisable to apply at some salons and impress their employers with their qualification, because if you want to start your salon, you will need funding for the equipment and the clientele, which is not easily achievable.

Salons in Iowa where a cosmetologist can look for a job are:

  • Michael Tschantz Salon – Iowa City
  • Groovy Katz Salon – Iowa City
  • Buzz – Iowa City
  • Estilo Salon and Day Spa – Iowa City
  • Rumours Salon – Iowa City
  • Bella Salon and Spa – West Des Moines
  • G Spot Hair Design – Iowa City

A good thing is that they can join the Cosmetologists and Barbers of Iowa Professional Association and get all the necessary information about future education and job openings, as well as share experiences with other members.

You can find the application online, fill it in and submit to become a member.

Cosmetologists work on nails, haircuts, and hairstyling and the salary they get depends on the specialty and number of clients during the day.

Iowa Workforce Development and the federal government estimate that cosmetologists earn an average salary of $24,498.

Annual Salary Range:
Annual Salary by Location:
Location Avg. Annual Salary
Ames,IA $24,843
Ankeny,IA $25,078
Cedar Falls,IA $22,755
Cedar Rapids,IA $24,712
Council Bluffs,IA $24,672
Davenport,IA $24,647
Des Moines,IA $25,078
Dubuque,IA $24,445
Iowa City,IA $24,509
Sioux City,IA $21,711
Urbandale,IA $25,078
Waterloo,IA $23,590
West Des Moines,IA $25,078

Regional Salary in Iowa

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Ames, IA150$34,340$16.51$60,930$17,680
Cedar Rapids, IA270$31,710$15.24$49,040$22,270
Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL360$34,140$16.42$55,600$23,500
Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA880$34,740$16.7$60,490$22,440
Dubuque, IA90$33,280$16$59,500$22,030
Iowa City, IA210$34,410$16.55$60,020$21,660
Sioux City, IA-NE-SD90$31,220$15.01$47,460$23,080
Waterloo-Cedar Falls, IA160$34,130$16.41$59,800$21,630
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists, OCC Code 39-5012, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

USA Cosmetology by State

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