How to Become a Cosmetologist in Tennessee

How to Become a Cosmetologist in Tennessee

Getting involved in any vocation requires certain renunciations and high devotion to it.

Cosmetology is usually thought of as a fun and exciting occupation, where you work with people of different interests, desires, and personal characteristics.

If you are a person who enjoys putting your creativity into hair or nail style then you should build your career based on professional skills and achievements.

This career is considered a stable one and the increasing number of job openings for hairstylists, hairdressers, and cosmetologists make it even more attractive to young generations.

Popular Programs

Job Description

If you decide that this vocation is ideal for you, you should know that maintaining lifelong relationships with your clients is crucial for this job.

This can only be achieved by your eagerness to advance, gain further and valuable knowledge related to the latest fashion trends and improvement of your work.

Barbers, hairdressers, and nail technicians, electrologists and estheticians are supposed to inspect hair, face, and nails and recommend treatment and find the best solution and clean and sanitize all tools and work areas after the finishing of the treatment.

Those who possess their premises have to hire the appropriate workers, keep business and inventory records and schedule appointments.

Some of them work full time, in shifts and even at weekends and evenings, at salons, spas, hotels and beauty centers.

Cosmetology Programs in Tennessee

The Tennessee Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners decided that the first thing you need to do to achieve a cosmetology license is to graduate from an accredited cosmetology school.

About 80 approved programs exist in Tennessee:

  • 14 in Memphis
  • 6 in Chattanooga
  • 6 in Knoxville
  • 5 in Nashville
  • 3 in Clarksville
  • 2 in Franklin
  • 2 in Murfreesboro
  • 1 in Jackson

Some of the most popular ones among students are:

  • Aveda Institute – Nashville
  • Mister Wayne’s School of Unisex Hair Design – Cookeville
  • Nashville Barber and Style Academy – Nashville
  • Paul Mitchell School – Knoxville
  • Queen City College – Clarksville
  • Tennessee Academy of Cosmetology – Memphis.

The accredited curriculum lasts 1,500 hours in length and offers lessons about:

  • Shampooing and rinsing
  • Salon psychology and sales
  • Scalp and hair care
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Business ethics
  • Chemical relaxing
  • Toning and bleaching
  • Hair shaping and styling
  • Hairdresser training
  • Manicures and pedicures
  • Makeup training
  • Sanitation and sterilization
  • Brow and lash tinting
  • Hair coloring

Cosmetology Exams in Tennessee

The graduation from a cosmetology school is followed by the exam, which will test you on the subjects you have learned through the classes.

The PSI testing company is in charge of the both Practical and Theory exam.

The application for you to test with PSI should be sent by your cosmetology school, and if you are qualified for the exam, you will get the test registration information which can also be found in the Tennessee Candidate Information Bulletin.

Cosmetology Practical Exam lasts 170 minutes and it can be done in Memphis, Nashville, and Knoxville.

You are supposed to bring:

  • Two mannequins
  • Haircutting shears
  • Chemical cape
  • Neck strips
  • EPA-registered disinfectant
  • Blow dryer
  • Blood spill kit
  • Razor with guard

A variety of skills needs to be demonstrated during the exam and what you will be tested is:

  • Set-up, disinfection, and safety
  • Chemical services
  • Virgin lightener
  • Color retouch
  • Relaxer retouch
  • Virgin relaxer
  • Removal of hair product
  • 90-degree haircut
  • Permanent waving service
  • Thermal hairstyling
  • Finger wave with at least two pin curls
  • Disinfection

The Cosmetology Theory Exam takes 120 minutes, it is a multiple-choice test and can be taken in:

  • Chattanooga
  • Jackson
  • Johnson City
  • Knoxville
  • Memphis
  • Nashville

Each part of the test carries a certain number of points:

  • Sanitation, disinfection, and safety – 20 percent
  • Hair coloring – 17 percent
  • Chemical texture services – 17 percent
  • Hairstyling and cutting – 12 percent
  • Licensing – 10 percent
  • Extensions and braids – 8 percent
  • Nail care – 7 percent
  • Skincare – 7 percent
  • Shampooing and conditioning hair – 2 percent


PSI is supposed to forward your exam scores if you have passed the tests to the Tennessee Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners.

Once you pay the Board a licensing fee, you will receive your license.

The Out-of-State Candidates can also become eligible for licensure, but their training and testing should be equivalent to those required in Tennessee.

If you can demonstrate that you have worked as a cosmetologist for at least five years this educational requirements can be skipped.

What you must do is an extra law exam which is also administered by PSI by filling out an Application to Test.

If all the requirements are fulfilled, you can submit an Application for a Reciprocal License.

Keeping Your License Current 

Once achieved, you should remember to renew your license up to 60 days before it is set to expire, by paying the $50 renewal fee and sending in a renewal form.

Continuous education is not necessary, but by keeping in touch with up-to-date fashion and beauty trends, you can make both your clients and your employers satisfied with your work.

Average Annual Cosmetologist Salary and Job Prospects in Tennessee

If you have enough money and can afford to start your salon and get all the necessary equipment, then you do not have to worry about the job prospects.

For people who cannot afford that, looking for a job in some of the salons that belong to other licensed cosmetologist is an option.

If you demonstrate exceptional skills and talent you can get the job in the most prominent and well-known salons, thus improving your chances of getting a higher salary and even negotiate it with the employer.

The job opportunities are great in Tennessee and if you are not satisfied with the employer, you can always decide to set up your beauty premises.

Another way of getting the information about employment is the vis Tennessee Association of Beauty Professionals (TAB) and Tennessee Beautician’s Association (TBA).

The average annual salaries for cosmetologists are the lowest in Johnson City with $ 22 712 per year, while the highest are in Memphis estimated at $ 24 686.

How much money they will earn annually depends on the amount of work, quality of the work and the prominence of the salon or beauty centers where you are employed, as well as whether you are the owner or just a worker there.

Annual Salary Range:
Annual Salary by Location:
Location Avg. Annual Salary
Chattanooga,TN $23,449
Clarksville,TN $23,457
Franklin,TN $24,097
Germantown,TN $24,625
Hendersonville,TN $24,146
Jackson,TN $24,504
Johnson City,TN $22,712
Kingsport,TN $22,797
Knoxville,TN $23,864
Memphis,TN $24,686
Murfreesboro,TN $24,000
Nashville,TN $24,183

Regional Salary in Tennessee

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Chattanooga, TN-GA370$35,540$17.09$56,630$18,260
Clarksville, TN-KY180$34,510$16.59$55,330$17,430
Cleveland, TN50$36,980$17.78$56,800$17,930
Johnson City, TN140$32,560$15.65$57,410$15,760
Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol, TN-VA130$34,310$16.5$52,790$19,020
Knoxville, TN830$38,620$18.57$58,830$19,500
Memphis, TN-MS-AR980$34,020$16.36$59,170$18,380
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN2,420$41,080$19.75$63,790$20,730
* 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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