Illinois is a great state for many reasons. Especially in the urban areas there’s a lot happening in the art and music world. For those of us who appreciate great beauty and great performers, it’s the perfect place to start a cosmetology career. If you’ve decided to be a specialist and you’re looking for somewhere to work in the beauty industry, Illinois is a great choice. Whether you want to be a makeup artist, or work in a salon or spa you’ll need to go through the state board get licensed.

Chicago, Il skyline
Chicago, Il skyline by David Sky [GFDL

What Does The Illinois State Board of Cosmetology Require of You?

To start a career in the health and beauty industry you need to begin with a degree or diploma in cosmetology. The program should include 1500 hours of training, and should be longer than 8 months, but shorter than 7 years. Are you interested in some ideas about how to get a taste of cosmetology education for free?

Your courses will include basic and advanced makeup, chemical relaxing and texture, nail techniques and manicure. You’ll also be given an education in business and salon management and marketing.

The more education you get, the higher your pay tends to be, so it might be in your best interests to take a longer program.  Also continuing education courses can be taken at night school after graduation.

Actually Getting Your License

Once you’ve finished your full course, you must pass your Illinois written exam. First, fill out the application online. When it is approved, you’ll receive information on the study guide, and step-by-step instructions on how and where to schedule your exams.

You must pass the exam with at least 70%, and include your scores with your licensing application. You must study at least 750 hours with an A grade or higher before you can apply for internships.


If you are coming to Illinois from out of state you’ll want to update to an Illinois license. You will need to check with the board as to whether they offer reciprocity for your home state. If your education included 1500 hours of study, and your current license has been active and in good standing for at least a year, you may qualify for reciprocity. You simply pay the fee and apply for an Illinois license.

CE Requirements

Illinois has a commitment to continuing education. You need to renew your license every two years before September 30th. The Board requires 14 hours of continuing education within that time.

The list of approved sponsors for continuing education can be found on the Board’s website.

The Department may conduct random audits between licensing periods, so it’s important to keep track of your continuing education hours.

Starting Your Career

Chicago has a vibrant art and music scene, so work as a makeup artist is another option for any trained beauty specialist. There are plenty of postings online for a talented artist or hairstylist.

Beauty schools isn’t a piece of cake but you can do it! Check out difficulties you may encounter.

ABC Cosmetology School – River Grove

Arlington Academy of Cosmetology – Buffalo Grove

Capelli Beauty Academy – Chicago

Career Logics Institute – Pekin

Curve Metric School of Hair Design – Elmwood Park

Du Quoin Beauty College – Du Quoin

Aveda Institute Chicago – Chicago

Douglas J Aveda – Chicago

Elite Beauty Insititute – Westmont

Eric Alexander University of Cosmetology and Esthetics – Mount Prospect

Empire Beauty School – Chicago

Empire Beauty School – Stone Park

Empire Beauty School – Vernon Hills

Hair Professionals Academy – Elgin-West Dundee

Hair Professionals Academy – Naperville

Hair Tech Academy – Peoria

Morris Academy of Hair Design – Morris

Josef Phillips Academy – Freeport

Kankakee Academy of Hair Design – Chicago

Ms. Roberts Academy of Beauty Culture – Villa Park

Regency Beauty Institute – NOW CLOSED

The Salon Professional Academy – Elgin

The Salon Professional Academy – Shorewood

Trend Beauty College – Marion

Tricoci University of Beauty Culture – various locations

Vee’s School of Beauty Culture – East St Louis

Other Illinois schools for makeup artists, estheticians, nail techs and barbers.

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Did we miss any cosmetology or hair and beauty schools in Chicago and the rest of Illinois? Please let us know.