How to get your WA cosmetologist license: Graduate of a school or apprenticeship program

Licensing requirements

  • To get your license as a cosmetologist, barber, manicurist, esthetician, or master esthetician you must:
    • Be at least 17 years of age.
    • Graduate from a school approved and licensed by the Department of Licensing with the minimum required state hours.
      or
      Successfully complete a state approved apprenticeship training program.
    • Pass the state-approved written and performance examinations.
  • After you get your license, you must post it at your work station.

Education requirements

Minimum required school hours

  • Cosmetologist—1,600 hours
  • Barber—1,000 hours
  • Manicurist—600 hours
  • Esthetician—750 hours
  • Master esthetician—1,200 hours

Minimum required apprenticeship program hours

  • Cosmetologist—2,000 hours
  • Barber—1,200 hours
  • Manicurist—800 hours
  • Esthetician—800 hours
  • Master esthetician—1,400 hours

How to get your license

  1. Your school or apprenticeship program will refer you to the National Testing Network (Ergometrics) so you can take your exam.
  2. Go to www.cosmetologywashington.com to schedule your exam and pay your exam fee.
    • You must schedule exams online. Walk-ins aren’t admitted to exams, and the testing centers can’t schedule you.
  3. After you pass the exams, apply for your license and pay the fee online at www.cosmetologywashington.com.

For more details, see the NIC Exam Preparation Guide for your type of license.

If you fail an exam

You may take only 1 examination per day. If you fail an exam, you may apply to retake it on another day. To schedule a re-exam and pay the re-exam fee, go to www.cosmetologywashington.com.

For veterans

U.S. Veterans may be eligible for partial reimbursements of costs. For more information: Education and Training | Licensing and Certification (www.benefits.va.gov)

If you have a license in another state

If you apply for a Washington state license, it won’t affect your license in another state. To learn how to get a Washington license if you have a valid license in another state, see How to get your license: Out-of-state license.

Washington Healthcare Finder
Access Washington – official state government website