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Frequently asked questions: Cosmetologists

Choose a topic below:

Training and exams

I completed my training in Washington State and didn't become licensed. Will you certify my hours?

No, hours are only certified if you're licensed.

Do I need to take a practical and written exam to get my license?

Yes, with the following exceptions:

  • Reciprocity — If you're currently licensed in another state or country and you have passed the state-approved written and performance examinations, you aren't required to re-take the exams to get a license in Washington State.
  • Instructors with an education degree — Instructor applicants who hold a degree in education from an accredited postsecondary institution and who are otherwise qualified aren't required to take the written or performance exams.

Where can I take my practical and written exams?

All written and performance exams are given by D.L. Roope. For more information, please visit their website at dlroope.com.


For information about getting, renewing, or updating a license, see:

All licenses

Can I laminate my license?

Yes, as long as you make sure both the front and back are visible through the laminate.

How do I get an additional copy of my license?

Please see How to get a copy of your current WA license.

I'm moving and am currently licensed in Washington State. How do I get a license in another state?

Contact the cosmetology licensing board (nictesting.org) in the state you're moving to. We don't provide license certification letters, but the state where you're moving can get your Washington license status at our online license search.

What forms of payment do you accept?

  • If you're renewing online we'll accept a Visa, MasterCard, or American Express debit or credit card for payment.
  • All other payments must be made with a check or money order, payable to the Department of Licensing.

When can I start working?

You can start working after you have received the appropriate license(s). The law requires all licenses to be posted. We'll issue a license after we receive all required documents and fees (where applicable).

How can I reinstate my canceled license?

  1. Submit a completed Cosmetology, Hair Design, Barber, Manicurist, Esthetician, Master Esthetician, or Instructor License Renewal, Reinstatement, Out-of-Country, or Reciprocity Application (English, Español, Русский, and more). We'll contact you with exam scheduling information once we receive your completed application.
  2. Pass the written and practical exams (third-party testing fees may apply).

Health and safety

Why do I need to use a 10% bleach solution?

Household bleach is made of 5.25% Sodium Hypochlorite (52,500 ppm); therefore, a 1% bleach solution is 525 ppm. Some experiments have shown that 200 ppm (or even less in some experiments) will inactivate most viruses. Therefore it would seem that a 1% solution of household bleach might be adequate. However, hypochlorite is substantially and quickly inactivated in the presence of organic matter. So, although 1% may be adequate for surface decontamination, a 10% dilution may be a better choice for inactivation of virus when one is cleaning out areas which have been infested by rodents. This 10% concentration is currently supported in Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Infection Control recommendations. For details see the state minimum safety and sanitation standards.

How do I know what a 10% bleach solution is?

Special Pathogens Branch recommends a 10% bleach solution be used to inactivate hantaviruses. (A 10% solution corresponds to 1½ cups of household bleach per gallon of water, or 1 part bleach to 9 parts water.) For details see the state minimum safety and sanitation standards.

Is there an equivalent product that can be used instead of the 10% bleach solution?

Yes, you can use a product that is registered with the EPA as a disinfectant that contains demonstrated virucidal, fungicidal, and germicidal properties. For details see the state minimum safety and sanitation standards.

How can I tell if a disinfectant is acceptable?

Read the product information on the label or on the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for information on disinfection properties of the product. To be acceptable, the product must be an EPA registered, hospital-grade disinfectant with demonstrated bactericidal, virucidal and fungicidal properties. For details see the state minimum safety and sanitation standards.

Technical assistance

Where can I get technical assistance?

The Cosmetology Section provides technical assistance to applicants and licensees if requested. To schedule an appointment, please email us at plssunit@dol.wa.gov. During a technical assistance visit you can learn about:

  • State licensing procedures
  • Compliance with regulation
  • Safety and sanitation procedures
  • Routine inspections

Questions? Need help?

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