Best Cosmetology Schools in Illinois
Learn everything about becoming a cosmetologist in Illinois! This includes licensing requirements and cost as dictated by the Illinois State Board of Cosmetology, a list of the best cosmetology schools in Illinois, and help finding the perfect beauty academy for your needs.

The Best Beauty Schools in Illinois

Are you considering entering the beauty industry in Illinois? If so, you’re about to step into a wildly exciting career! And you’re exactly where you need to be, because, in this post, you’ll get the help you need to pin down the best cosmetology schools in Illinois for your lifestyle. You’ll also find everything you need to know about the Illinois State Board of Cosmetology license requirements and fees.

Illinois State Board of Cosmetology Schools: Table of Contents

  • What is Cosmetology?
  • How to Find the Best Cosmetology Schools in Illinois
  • Illinois State Board of Cosmetology Requirements  for Cosmetology Licensing
    (How to Become a Licensed Cosmetologist)
  • Contact Info for the Illinois State Board of Cosmetologists and Barbers
  • FAQs
    What are the top cosmetology schools in Chicago?
    What are the requirements to get into cosmetology school?
    How long does cosmetology school take?
    How much does it cost to go to cosmetology school?
    Is it possible to go to cosmetology school for free?
  • Similar Beauty School Licenses in Illinois

What is Cosmetology?

Cosmetology is “the study and application of beauty treatment,” according to Wikipedia.  However, that definition barely scratches the surface of what it means to be a cosmetologist. As you probably are aware, there are many different facets to this specialty.  Accordingly, accredited cosmetology training programs prepare students for a truly wide range of tasks.

These include:

  • Hairstyling, cutting, and coloring
  • Manicures, pedicures, and all Nail Technician Responsibilities
  • Makeup Artistry
  • Hair removal via electrolysis, sugaring, waxing, and intense pulsed light
  • Esthetics and skin care procedures (including light massage techniques)

Best Cosmetology Schools in IllinoisIn addition to these beauty techniques, cosmetology courses also focus on business skills and ethics. Additionally, a fair amount of time is spent covering the different types of products that students will need to use throughout their cosmetology career. This includes hair styling gels, makeup, different types of waxes, and much more!

As you can see, cosmetology is a very broad field of study. As a student, you’ll be learning about hair, skin, and nail care. Unsurprisingly,  a cosmetology license is the single beauty license that requires the most training hours. According to the Illinois State Board of Cosmetology, students must complete 1,500 training hours before taking the cosmetology board exam. 

Additionally, these training hours must be spread out over a minimum of eight months and last no longer than seven years.

Beauty Careers Similar to Cosmetology in IL

Of course, you can always change your mind to get your license more quickly in Illinois.  These tend to be more focused on one specific subject. Therefore, it typically takes less time and money to obtain a license in a beauty specialty other than cosmetology.

Here are the training requirements for other beauty licenses in Illinois:

Cosmetology: 1,500 hours (You can use a total of 150 internship hours to satisfy this requirement.)
Barber: 1,500 training hours
Instructor: 1,000 training hours or 500 hours, if you already have at least two years of licensed experience in your specialty.
Electrologist: 600 training hours
Esthetics: 750 training hours
Massage Therapist: 500 training hours
Nail Technician: 350 training hours
Hair Braider: 300 training hours

Best Cosmetology Schools in Illinois
In Illinois, nail technicians only need 350 training hours for their beauty license. This is a shorter and less expensive option!

How to Find the Best Cosmetology Schools in Illinois
Accredited by the Illinois State Board of Cosmetology

We know how difficult it can be to figure out which ones are the best cosmetology schools in Illinois. You type “best cosmetology schools near me” only to sift through pages of boring advertisements and spam. The struggle is real!

And so, in order to avoid wasting time, we suggest using Campus Explorer. It’s a tool that takes your own personal preferences and then creates a tailored list of the top cosmetology programs near you.

All you need to do is enter your information in the handy-dandy toolbar below. And viola! You’ll start receiving emails with insider tips on the best local cosmetology schools that are in your area.

The cherry on top is that this is completely free. There’s no commitment! Accordingly, you can unsubscribe from Campus Explorer’s mailing list whenever you want. This is why it’s such a risk-free way to quickly find the best cosmetology schools for your lifestyle.

Illinois State Board of Cosmetology License Requirements
(How to Get a Cosmetology License in IL)

In order to become a cosmetologist in Illinois, you must complete a few steps. (These are governed by the Illinois State Board of Cosmetology through the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.)

1. Attend an Accredited Cosmetology School

The first step is to enroll in an accredited cosmetology school in Illinois. Throughout the duration of your time at school, you must complete 1,500 cosmetology training hours. (Alternatively, if you opt for a different type of beauty license, then you will have less training hours… but likely a lower salary.)

Your cosmetology classes will consist of hands-on instruction in a salon, as well as classroom instruction. Both are vital parts of your cosmetology education.

2. Take the PSI Illinois State Board Cosmetology Exam

Next, it’s time to take the Illinois cosmetology state board test. This is administered by an organization called Professional Services Industries (PSI). PSI is simply a large test development organization in the US. Many cosmetology boards in the United States use PSI for testing.

Related: How to Pass the Cosmetology State Board Exam (Free Exam Practice Test & Study Guide)

3. Apply for a License via the Illinois State Board of Cosmetology

After breathing a sigh of relief that you’ve passed your exams, it’s time to apply for your official cosmetology license. To do so, you must contact the Illinois State Board of Cosmetology and fill out an application. You can either submit the application online or mail it. (Their contact information is listed below!)

4. Take Cosmetology Continuing Education Courses Every Two Years

After you receive your cosmetology license, you will still need to take continuing education classes during each two-year renewal period. The Illinois State Board of Cosmetology requires proof of 14 continuing education hours at the time of renewal.

These classes are a great opportunity to practice important health and safety practices. But they’re also a great way to take interesting electives and become even better at what you do!

Cosmetologists need to renew their licenses every even-numbered year by September 30th. The license renewal fee is $50.

If you want to save yourself the hassle of endlessly searching for “cosmetology classes near me,” Campus Explorer is here to help! Put your basic information into the search bar below, and Campus Explorer will do the rest. You can expect lots of help in finding the right cosmetology classes near you, at no cost to you!

Cosmetology License Transfer (Reciprocity)
in Illinois

The Illinois State Board of Cosmetology examines applications for out-of-state cosmetology license transfers and makes decisions on a case-by-case basis. If your home state’s cosmetology training requirements were equal to or as high as Illinois’s standards, the board may endorse you. If you want to transfer your cosmetology license to Illinois from another state, you must contact the board to request approval. In your application, make sure to include proof of education from an accredited cosmetology program, as well as proof of licensed cosmetology work experience.

Illinois State Board of Cosmetology Contact Info

Make sure to bookmark the Illinois Cosmetology Board website link, because it has a lot of helpful features! For example, you can apply for your license online, check your application status, and find answers to Illinois Cosmetology FAQs.

Phone Number

In order to reach a representative from the Illinois State Board of Cosmetology, call 1-888-473-4858.


If you want to mail your application, you can print it out and send it to:

Illinois Dept. of Professional Regulation—Barber, Cosmetology, Esthetics, Hair Braiding, and Nail Technology Board
320 W. Washington St., 3rd Fl.
Springfield, IL 62786
100 W. Randolph Street, 9th Fl.
Chicago, IL 60601

Searching for the Best Cosmetology Schools in IL: FAQs

Since we get asked the same questions quite often, we decided to compile a list of answers to the most popular questions about cosmetology school. Below, you’ll find answers to the most frequently asked questions about cosmetology programs in the US.

What are the best cosmetology schools in Chicago?

There are many great beauty schools in Chicago. Our top three picks are:

  1. Paul Mitchel Beauty School in Chicago
  2. University of Aesthetics & Cosmetology in Chicago
  3. Tricoci University of Beauty Culture in Chicago

What are the requirements to get into cosmetology school?

Cosmetology admissions requirements are different in each state and specific school. However, the typical age requirement is 17 or 18. Another common requirement is a high school diploma or GED.

Again, we want to emphasize that these are just the averages and that it’s different in every state. There are exceptions to every rule. For example, some states allow students if they have completed a minimum of the 8th grade. And others will permit students at age 16.

Overall, it’s important to look at your home state’s requirements.

Read More: How to Get a Cosmetology License

How long does cosmetology school take?

The length of cosmetology school depends on a few things:

  • Whether you attend full- or part-time
  • The amount of material covered in an individual cosmetology school’s program

Most states require from 250 to 2,000 training hours at an accredited cosmetology school. But the exact number of hours depends on your state’s licensing requirements. The average length of time to complete a cosmetology program is one year to 14 months.

Read More: How Long is Cosmetology School?

How much does it cost to go to cosmetology school?

When you think of how much it costs to become a cosmetologist, the first thought that probably pops into your mind is tuition. And rightfully so! That is by far the largest expense to consider. Tuition can range from $5,000 to $25,000 and beyond, depending on where you go.

Additionally, here are some more costs to consider:

  • Cosmetology School Kit (Supplies)
  • Cost of Cosmetology State Board Exam
  • License Application Fee
  • Study Guides and Practice Tests

Fortunately, federal financial aid is available at certain beauty schools. To enumerate, a school with accreditation from the National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts & Sciences, will have Pell cosmetology grants as well as federal financial aid assistance. Stafford Loans are also an option.

Without a doubt, the costs are worth the money. Cosmetology is a meaningful career. Also, the chances are high that you’ll find a good paying cosmetology job soon after graduation.

Can you tell me how to go to cosmetology school for free?

Top Cosmetology Schools in IllinoisAh, the old “please tell me the secret of how to go to cosmetology school for free!” This is a tough question to answer with a complete “yes” or “no.”

Although it’s true that cosmetology school tuition can be difficult to pay for, it is possible for you to make it work.

And depending on your financial situation, you may even be able to receive loans and/or grants for all of your tuition and related expenses.

In order to receive Federal Financial Aid, you need to be attending an accredited institution. Although Student Federal Loans usually require repayment, they typically ask for very small payments. Depending on your income level, they may pardon you for a period of time until you’re back on your feet financially.

Here are some tips to help you cover the cost of cosmetology school:
  • Cosmetology Classes for High School Students: Typically, the school has something worked out with the district. So, to put it plainly: you may be getting free cosmetology school by attending classes through a high school program.
  • Apply to School-Specific Scholarships for Cosmetology School. On The best thing to do first is check to see if your school offers scholarships. For example, Paul Mitchell schools offer scholarships exclusively for Paul Mitchell students.
  • Consider Going to School Part-Time. This way, you’ll have time to work at a  part-time job to generate some income while you’re still in school.
  • Apply for grant and scholarship programs in the beauty industry. The American Association of Cosmetology Schools partners with industry supporters. The reason for this is to make scholarships and/or grants available to students who qualify. They call this the ‘Beauty Changes Lives Foundation,’ and the amount of donations they gather is impressive.In order to learn more, check out Beauty Changes Lives. Another national cosmetology scholarship program is available through the Professional Beauty Association.

List of Free Cosmetology Grants Across the Industry

We want you to realize that going to cosmetology school can and will happen, even if the price is scaring you. This is because there are many organizations within the beauty industry that offer grants freely.

However, you don’t have to just take my word for it! Below, you’ll find a lengthy list of cosmetology grants and scholarships that are made available by partners in the beauty industry.

Why don’t you take a look and see if anything could work out for you?

  • OPI Scholarship
  • Sally Beauty Scholarships
  • Sport Clips Scholarship
  • Dream Shears/Trade Essentials Scholarship
  • Westmore Academy of Cosmetic Arts Makeup Scholarship
  • Pat Goins Memorial Scholarship
  • American Health and Beauty Aids Institute Scholarship
  • Minnesota’s Model College of Hair Design Grants
  • Oregon Student Assistance Commission Grants
  • Vernon’s Kansas School of Cosmetology Grants
  • John Pelloni Memorial Scholarship
  • Maureen Baldwin Cosmetology Scholarship
  • Walla Wall Community College, Washington
  • Joe Francis Hair-Care Scholarship Foundation
  • Alice Madden Barton Cosmetology Scholarship Program
  • NCEA Esthetician Scholarship
  • “Education Rocks” Scholarship
  • Massage Magazine Scholarship Program

As you can see, there are many scholarships and grants available! Tuition shouldn’t ever be what keeps you from pursuing your dream.

There are many cosmetology school scholarships, grants, and financial aid available to qualified students.

More Beauty Schools in Illinois

The cosmetology schools in IL are outstanding, especially if you want a cosmetology school that prepares you to get a full cosmetology license.

But what if you want something more specialized, like a Nail Technician License or an Esthetician License? Luckily, Illinois is still a great place to be!

Below, you’ll find schools that prepare you for different beauty licenses in Illinois:

Best Cosmetology Schools in Illinois:
Your Turn!

You have totally got this! Especially now that you know about the relatively simple Illinois State Board of Cosmetology licensing requirements and costs. It’s a clear-cut path, with a lot of people who want to help you succeed in your industry!

So, we dare you. Take that leap of faith and reach out to a few admissions offices today. Or, if you’re still searching for the best cosmetology school in Illinois, use Campus Explorer to speed things up.

You’ll be glad you did! Congratulations on taking ownership of your future, and thanks for dropping by TFC.

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