Marcia Hultman

Cabinet Secretary

Font Size: A A A
South Dakota Cosmetology Commission - Menu

South Dakota Cosmetology Commission

Exam Schedule and Procedures

The Commission will be administering State Board exams as shown below. Dates and locations may change during the year, but sufficient notice will be given regarding any date changes to the exam schedule. If needed, the commission will add additional days as needed to accommodate school graduations. Dates may change, but sufficient notice will be given regarding any changes.

If you have completed your education in South Dakota and have a job lined up, use the Exam and Temporary License Application (also available from our Forms page) for the examination and temporary license.

If you have already applied for State Board examinations and now have a job lined up, use the Temporary License Application.

The following examinations are required for South Dakota licensure as a cosmetologist, esthetician, or nail technician:

  • Written Theory Examination – South Dakota administers the National Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology (NIC) 100 question theory examination. There are separate examinations specific to cosmetology, esthetics, and nail technology.
  • South Dakota Cosmetology State Laws & Rules 25-question test. All candidates take the same test.

The examinations are administered at the Cosmetology Commission in Pierre. We administer State Board Examinations one Saturday per month (with an occasional month not having exams).

Applicants will be registered on a first-come first-served basis after we have received the completed application and $100 examination fee. Examination spots will not be held for faxed applications or emailed requests for a specific exam date. South Dakota law allows enrolled students to apply for State Board exams at any point during their education. Candidates are registered in the order in which we receive the examination application and fee. If an exam date is full, the applicant will be registered for the next available exam date.

When registered, candidates are mailed a notice of their examination date. Approximately two weeks before the examination date, candidates are mailed their official Admission Notice and a copy of the Candidate Information Bulletin for the theory examination for the license they are seeking. Candidates cannot request a certain exam date or change their mind at the last minute. If they choose to not come on the date they are scheduled, it will be an unexcused absence and they will need to reapply and pay the exam fee again. (The policy for excused absences remains the same -- we allow excused absences for personal illness with a doctor written excuse or death of an immediate family member.) We will not accept additional applications for an examination date after the Admission Notices have been mailed.

Candidates must bring the following documents with them to the State Board examinations:

  • Admission Notice
  • Government-issued Photo ID
  • Temporary License (if issued one)
    (NOTE: There is no need to bring a student license to the examinations.)

South Dakota allows individuals who have completed their education to apply for a temporary license if they have a job lined up. The temporary license will be issued when we receive (a) completed temporary license application, showing where the individual is going to work, (b) $6.00 temporary license fee, and (c) completed Student Education Record/Timesheet. A temporary license is valid until the individual takes their State Board examination. An unexcused absence will make the temporary license invalid and the candidate cannot continue to work as a cosmetologist, esthetician, or nail technician until they pass all State Board exams. The law allows for only one temporary license per individual.

If a candidate with a temporary license fails the theory and/or State Laws examination, the temporary license is no longer valid and it is not returned to them. They cannot work as a cosmetologist, esthetician or nail technician until they retake and pass the exam(s) that they failed. If a candidate fails one or more exams, information will be provided about scheduling a retake exam(s). Retake exams are scheduled on Thursdays at the Commission office in Pierre to enable the individual to complete their testing and qualify for a regular license as soon as possible. We normally schedule an exam retake for 1:30 p.m. Central time so that the candidate can drive to Pierre, take the exam, and still get home the same day.

If the candidate passes their exams (written theory and state laws/rules) they are issued their regular license before they leave if we have received the completed Student Education record/Timesheet from the school. If a candidate passes the examinations and is still in school or the Commission office has not yet received their completed Student Education Record/Timesheet, the license will be issued upon receipt of the Student Education Record/Timesheet from the school.

2020 Exam Schedule
Jan. 6 State Board Exams
Jan. 7 State Board Exams
March 16 State Board Exams — CANCELED
March 17 State Board Exams — CANCELED
May 18 State Board Exams — CANCELED
May 19 State Board Exams — CANCELED
June 6 State Board Exams
June 7 State Board Exams
July 18 State Board Exams
July 19 State Board Exams
Aug. 15 State Board Exams
Oct. 17 State Board Exams
Nov. 14 State Board Exams
Note: Calendar is subject to change throughout the year.