State Board Exam | Licensing

There are many questions surrounding State Board exams that students commonly have. This set of Q&A’s starts with an overview of general licensing questions, such as determining your state’s requirements, if any, and how massage therapist license requirements may differ from cosmetology practices. The topics of license reciprocity, endorsement, transfer, and other common laws are covered as well. Plus, almost every state has license renewal and some kind of continuing education requirements to remain in good standing. And of course, we cover important questions about taking your State Board exam, including Spanish-Language cosmetology test options.

State Board Exam | Licensing

01. General Licensing Questions
What if my state does not offer a license or permit for the specialty I want?

Not every state offers every license. Almost all states and territories offer a cosmetologist or beautician license of some kind (even the name can vary). Each state differs on whether they offer barber, esthetician, nail technician, makeup artist, permanent makeup artist, electrolysis, instructor and hair braiding licenses, among others. More and more states are beginning to offer hair braiding licenses, and some even offer permits as specific as threading licenses.

If your state does not have the specialty permit you're looking for, make sure the specialty doesn't fall under another licensure. For example, in some states makeup services fall under either the cosmetologist license or the esthetician license. If the board confirms that it is not licensed and doesn't fall under another certification, you may be allowed to perform the service professionally without a license in that state. However, there may still be schools to attend for that specialty so you can set yourself apart from the competition.

Once I finish a training program, will I immediately get my cosmetology license?

Not immediately. You will have to take your state board exams first. Upon completion of your beauty school program, states require you to take a state board examination or multiple exams in order to obtain your cosmetology license or specialty permit.

Many beauty and cosmetology schools drill hard on the learned material toward the end of your training program to help students adequately prepare for these examinations. This is extremely useful to get students in the test-taking frame of mind, but also make sure that the school's entire curriculum is focused on providing a good, thorough cosmetology education, and not simply teaching students how to "pass the test."

Typically there is a written portion of the exam that is graded immediately, and then there is a practical portion of the exam that takes anywhere from a few hours to most of a day depending on your state. It can take several weeks to receive your grade, and your official cosmetology license in the mail.

02. License Requirements By State
What are the unique cosmetology license requirements for each state?

ALABAMA  /   ALASKA   /  ARIZONA   /  ARKANSAS   /  CALIFORNIA   /  COLORADO   /  CONNECTICUT   /  DELAWARE   /  WASHINGTON D.C.   /  FLORIDA   /  GEORGIA   /  HAWAII   /  IDAHO  /   ILLINOIS  /   INDIANA  /   IOWA  /   KANSAS   /  KENTUCKY   /  LOUISIANA  /   MAINE   /  MARYLAND   /  MASSACHUSETTS  /   MICHIGAN  /   MINNESOTA   /  MISSISSIPPI  /   MISSOURI   /  MONTANA  /   NEBRASKA   /  NEVADA  /   NEW HAMPSHIRE   /  NEW JERSEY   /  NEW MEXICO  /   NEW YORK  /   NORTH CAROLINA  /   NORTH DAKOTA  /   OHIO  /   OKLAHOMA  /   OREGON  /   PENNSYLVANIA   /  RHODE ISLAND   /  SOUTH CAROLINA   /  SOUTH DAKOTA   /  TENNESSEE  /   TEXAS   /  UTAH   /  VERMONT   /  VIRGINIA   /  WASHINGTON  /   WEST VIRGINIA   /  WISCONSIN  /   WYOMING

Licensing laws, rules and regulations vary from state to state, and that can make understanding your rights and responsibilities very confusing. Not to worry. Beauty Schools Directory has spoken with every state in the country about their specific regulations on everything from renewal to reciprocity, and we have compiled that information on this easy-to-read and easy-to-understand page.

Cosmetology licensing laws and requirements vary by state, as do reciprocity and transfer regulations, renewal schedules, fees and continuing education requirements. Almost every state has a cosmetology license, but each state differs on whether they offer barber, esthetician, nail technician, makeup artist, permanent makeup artist, electrolysis, instructor and hair braiding licenses.

We review every state board each year to ensure we have the most up-to-date information about laws and license requirements possible. We also recommend directly contacting the cosmetology licensing board or other regulating authority in your state, as they can answer questions for your specific situation. If you click the link above, we include complete contact information for each state's licensing board, including an address, phone number, e-mail address and a map to the location.

The information you find listed within each state is the latest data that Beauty Schools Directory has on file for each state board of cosmetology's licensing requirements. Hours and minimum requirements are subject to change as laws change. It's especially important to check this information for cosmetology licensing renewal and if you will be transferring your cosmetology license to another state. Often times when transferring your cosmetology license to another state, they have different licensing laws that you will need to meet. Please contact the appropriate state board licensing agencies in your home state and the state to which you're moving to make sure you understand the license transfer process.

Cosmetology License Requirements by State

How to Get Your Cosmetology License

Whether you are pursuing your overall cosmetology license, or a more specific specialty certification like an esthetician license or hairstylist license, there are some consistent steps in the process across each discipline. In order to get licensed or certified for the beauty specialties in your state, it all begins with education.

As of 2015, most states require you to attend an approved school for a minimum number of hours, get hands-on training in the student salon or clinic, and sit for the state's board exams. A few states allow apprenticeship in lieu of school to get those training hours.

Once you have passed the board exams specific to your state, you are required to renew regularly. Some states require continuing education hours to renew your beauty license, some require taking a safety and sanitation quiz to renew, and others simply require the license renewal fee.

Massage Therapist Licensing Requirements

How to Get Your Massage License

Whether you are pursuing your massage therapist license or advanced certification, there are some consistent steps in the process across state lines. In order to get licensed or certified for massage and bodywork in your state, it all begins with education.

Most states require you to attend an approved school of massage therapy for a minimum number of hours, get hands-on training in the student clinic, and sit for the state's board exams.A few states do allow apprenticeship in lieu of or as a supplement to school to get those massage training hours.

Once you have passed the board exams specific to your state, you are required to renew regularly, usually every two years. Some states require massage continuing education hours to renew your  license, and some require taking a safety and sanitation quiz to renew, while others simply require the license renewal fee.

Steps to Getting Your Massage Therapist License

During your education to become a massage therapist, you will learn about human physiology, explore muscle groups, train for different types of massage and review therapist ethics. You may also get other valuable information that is relevant to becoming a successful licensed massage therapist (LMT), such as business and economics courses.

You should also get the opportunity to apply your knowledge under the guidance of an experienced massage therapist by working in a student clinic. this is where you will learn to perfect your technique and may even start to build your clientele.

Upon completion of most massage and bodywork training programs, you will have a diploma or certificate in massage therapy. You might still be required to take an exam to be certified by the state you want to work in. The current test is the MBLEx. In addition, some states have certifications versus licensure.

If you have specific questions about the requirements for a massage therapy career in your state, the chart below will help you find the massage requirements in your state. Or to learn more about licensing for other beauty- and wellness-related programs in your state, visit our State Beauty License Requirements page.

Most states will require massage therapists to take continuing education courses (CEU) to remain certified. The classes keep your skills up to date and help you continue to improve your skills as an LMT. You can find a list of NCBTMB-approved CEU providers on their website as well.

State-by-State Massage License Hour Requirements

In order to become a licensed massage therapist, you will need to meet the requirements of your state. Although the specifics vary from state to state, the national average is a minimum of 500 to 600 hours of education and many require an exam.

Look through the list below to find out what your state's requirements are to be able to sit for the board exams and get licensed. Note that some states have varying levels of massage licenses, and some states leave the minimum number of hours required up to the counties or cities within the state.

Last updated December 21, 2015

 

State Hours
Alabama 650
Alaska Varies by Municipality
Arizona 700
Arkansas 500
California 250 Practitioner / 500 Therapist
Colorado 500
Connecticut 500
Delaware 300 Technician / 500 Therapist
Florida 500
Georgia 500
Hawaii 570
Idaho 500
Illinois 500
Indiana 500
Iowa 500
Kansas Varies by Municipality
Kentucky 600
Louisiana 500
Maine 500
Maryland 560 Therapist / 500 Practitioner
Massachusetts 650
Michigan 500
Minnesota Varies by Municipality
Mississippi 700
Missouri 500
Montana 500
Nebraska 1000
Nevada 500
New Hampshire 750
New Jersey 500
New Mexico 650
New York 1000
North Carolina 500
North Dakota 750
Ohio 750
Oklahoma Varies by Municipality
Oregon 500
Pennsylvania 600
Rhode Island 500
South Carolina 500
South Dakota 500
Tennessee 500
Texas 500
Utah 600
Vermont Varies by Municipality
Virginia 500
Washington D.C. 500
West Virginia 500
Wisconsin 600
Wyoming Varies by Municipality

Can I be licensed in multiple states at once?

Yes, you can be licensed in multiple states at once. You will need to show proof of the required minimum number of training hours for the state, and then sit for both the written and practical exams in that state. As long as you continue to meet all the renewal requirements and renew the licenses on time, you can hold licenses in multiple states concurrently.

03. License Transfer & Reciprocity
Cosmetology License Reciprocity (Transfer) in Each State

ALABAMA  /   ALASKA   /  ARIZONA   /  ARKANSAS   /  CALIFORNIA   /  COLORADO   /  CONNECTICUT   /  DELAWARE   /  WASHINGTON D.C.   /  FLORIDA   /  GEORGIA   /  HAWAII   /  IDAHO  /   ILLINOIS  /   INDIANA  /   IOWA  /   KANSAS   /  KENTUCKY   /  LOUISIANA  /   MAINE   /  MARYLAND   /  MASSACHUSETTS  /   MICHIGAN  /   MINNESOTA   /  MISSISSIPPI  /   MISSOURI   /  MONTANA  /   NEBRASKA   /  NEVADA  /   NEW HAMPSHIRE   /  NEW JERSEY   /  NEW MEXICO  /   NEW YORK  /   NORTH CAROLINA  /   NORTH DAKOTA  /   OHIO  /   OKLAHOMA  /   OREGON  /   PENNSYLVANIA   /  RHODE ISLAND   /  SOUTH CAROLINA   /  SOUTH DAKOTA   /  TENNESSEE  /   TEXAS   /  UTAH   /  VERMONT   /  VIRGINIA   /  WASHINGTON  /   WEST VIRGINIA   /  WISCONSIN  /   WYOMING

Alabama

The Alabama Cosmetology Board does accept reciprocity from other states. This does depend on the training, testing and length of licensure in your home state. You must request that certification of your licensure and education be sent to the Alabama Board of Cosmetology and Barbering from the state you are currently licensed in. The process begins when the office receives your certification. You may need to take licensing exams, depending on which state your license is from. This service comes with a $100 fee.

Alaska

The Alaska Board of Barbers and Hairdressers can help with cosmetology license transfers. Your training from your home state must be equal to or greater than the training requirements of Alaska. If you have at least 1500 training hours, you can use one year of full-time work experience to make up the difference. If you have at least 1000 hours, you can use two years of work experience to make up the difference. If you cannot prove that you meet the training requirements of Alaska, you need to complete your training hours at an Alaska school.

Arizona

If you began your cosmetology career in another state, licensure in Arizona may be accomplished through the reciprocity program or by taking an Arizona cosmetology ex-am. This requires an application for reciprocity. According the Arizona Board of Cos-metology, a person is entitled to receive a cosmetologist, aesthetician or nail technician license if:

  1. You submit an application to the Board of Cosmetology for a cosmetologist, esthetician or nail tech license; this application must be supplied by the Board of Cosmetology.
  2. You submit evidence that you are licensed in another state or country, OR you graduated from a school that offers cosmetology, esthetics or nail technology courses substantially similar to Arizona's requirements and that you passed the Board-approved cosmetology exams.
  3. You pay the required fees.

Along with your application for reciprocity, you must include:

  1. A passport-quality photo
  2. Type of license, license number, and expiration date if you were previously licensed by the Board of Cosmetology
  3. Statement of whether or not you have ever had a cosmetology, nail technology, esthetics, or instructor license suspended or revoked in any state or country.
  4. Certification of hours and proof of graduation or licensure in another state or country

Arkansas

The Arkansas cosmetology board requires a reciprocity application and a $150 to transfer your license to Arkansas. Your home state should send a certification of records and training. You will have to take the Arkansas State Cosmetology Board Exam. If your home state requires fewer training hours to get your cosmetology license, you may have to take additional exams.

If you completed your barbering education as an apprentice, you may need to repeat your barber training in Arkansas. Your home state must have similar barbering hour requirements or you must have your barber license for three or more years. All reciprocity and transfer applications are considered on a case-by-case basis. International licensees must prove they are both licensed and experience before taking the practical exam.

California

The California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology requires that you must have a cosmetology license in good standing with no citations, violations, convictions or child support issues putting your license on hold in your home state. You must have been licensed for at least three of the last five years to qualify for reciprocity.

The training requirements of your home state must be equal to or greater than the requirements of California if you want to qualify for reciprocity. Otherwise, you must finish your training hours at an approved California school and take the cosmetology examination.

Colorado

If you have a cosmetology license from another state or country, you may be able to apply for Colorado licensure via endorsement. First, you must have the licensing agency of your home state or country send proof of your license in good standing to the Office of Barbering and Cosmetology Licensure. If your license is not currently active, you must meet the educational requirements of the state of Colorado. This also involves passing the licensing examinations for your specialty.

Connecticut

The Connecticut Examining Board for Barbers, Hairdressers, and Cosmeticians requires that reciprocity or transfer applicants have received equivalent training and testing in their home state. You are required to provide verification of cosmetology licensure from your home state to the Examining Board for Barbers, Hairdressers, and Cosmeticians. You must pass a written exam to transfer your license. There is a $100 application fee.

Delaware

Depending on which state you are currently licensed in and how much experience you have, you may be able to become licensed in Delaware via reciprocity. You do not have to go through the examination process if your home state’s training requirements are similar to those of Delaware. If your home state’s licensing requirements are considerably less than Delaware’s requirements, you may qualify through work experience. You must provide proof that you have been employed for three of the last five years as a cosmetology professional. The cost of transferring your license to DE varies from $68 for estheticians to $167 for instructors.

Washington D.C.

If applying for licensure by reciprocity in Washington D.C., you are required to pay a reciprocity licensing fee and provide a letter showing that you have met and completed license requirements equivalent to those in Washington D.C. For licensure by endorsement, you must show that you passed similar or equivalent exams and have an active license from your home state.

Florida

If you have a cosmetology license in another state, you may be eligible for licensing via endorsement in Florida.

To be considered for licensure by endorsement, the licensure requirements of your home state must be equal to or greater than Florida’s cosmetology licensure requirements. If you have at least 1,000 hours of education from another state and at least one year of licensure behind you, you can register to take the Florida cosmetology exam and get your license.

Those who have a cosmetology license in another country cannot get their Florida license by endorsement. They must go through the examination process.

Georgia

If you wish to earn your Georgia license through endorsement, you must have a license valid in another state. The Board of Cosmetology and Barbers looks at each application on a case-by-case basis. You may qualify for endorsement if your home state’s training requirements are close to or greater than the requirements of Georgia. Endorsement is not an option for applicants from Alabama, California, Washington D.C., Washington, New York, and Hawaii.

Hawaii

Hawaii does not have reciprocity. If you are coming from another state, you have to provide proof that you have completed education requirements that are equivalent to or greater than the requirements of Hawaii. You still may be required to take the written and practical exam. You can obtain a temporary permit in order to work under someone while waiting for written exam, should you qualify to meet those criteria. A clean application is handed by a clerk at the Board. Questionable issues on your application are subjective to executive officer review or board meeting.

Idaho

Idaho does not do licensure through reciprocity. There are two routes you can go to earn your license through endorsement if you have a valid license in another state. The first route involves proving that you have met training requirements that are consistent with or greater than the requirements of Idaho. If your training does not meet these expectations, you can still apply for endorsement by providing proof that you have had a valid license for at least three of the last five years. If you do not meet these transfer requirements, you must take Idaho's cosmetology exam and you may be required to take additional training hours to meet Idaho's minimum. The transfer fee is $100.

Illinois

If you want to transfer your license to Illinois, you may be able to bypass the testing requirements of the license by applying for endorsement. You must submit proof of your education to demonstrate that your home state’s training requirements are at least as extensive as those in Illinois. You must also submit proof of work experience and proof of your current cosmetology license.

Indiana

Reciprocity is granted in Indiana on a case-by-case basis, depending on whether your home state has equivalent or more demanding education and licensing requirements. You may not transfer if you have only attended nail school but have not worked actively with the license, and you may be required to take additional training. However, for cosmetology, it is acceptable to transfer a license with school hours only.

Electrologists must have cosmetology or esthetician licenses to transfer. There is a $40 fee and an application to transfer your license to Indiana. If your license does not meet the same standards that Indiana requires, you may be able to make up the difference with work experience. Each full year of work experience, up to 5 years in total, counts for 100 hours of required training.

Iowa

Unlike many other states, Iowa does not have a process for transferring your license or earning your Iowa license through reciprocity. To begin the process, you must have the cosmetology board from your home state send proof of your licensure and education directly to the Iowa Board of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences. From there, the Board of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences will determine whether or not you have to take an exam or complete additional training.

Kansas

Kansas does not have a reciprocity program with other states. If you would like to transfer your license to Kansas, you must complete the out-of-state application that can be found on their website. If you meet the requirements for Kansas beauty professionals, you must complete a 20-question open-book exam. If you do not meet the requirements, you may have to take the full written and practical exam. This is also required if you do not have an active license in your home state.

The cost to transfer your license to Kansas is $50. The state board of cosmetology in your home state must verify your training hours. You must be currently licensed and your home state’s training requirements must be equal to or greater than those of Kansas.

Kentucky

If you have a license or prior cosmetology training in another state, you may qualify for licensure in Kentucky. You must have the initial licensing board in your home state submit proof of your licensure or completed education hours to the Board of Hairdressers and Cosmetologists. If you have not met the minimum training hour requirements of Kentucky, you will be required to complete your training in Kentucky before taking your exams and applying for your license. However, if you have been licensed for at least two years in your home state, you can take the exams without completing additional training in Kentucky.

Louisiana

The Louisiana cosmetology board does not have reciprocity with WI, VT, TX, TN, MN, MI, MA, MD, MT, NE, NJ, NM, OH, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, UT, VA, and WV. Those out-of-state transfer applicants will need to take an NIC Exam for $25, a State Theory Exam for $25, and a practical exam for $25, then pay the reciprocity license fee of $50.

Maine

Maine offers licensure by endorsement if the licensee's home state has similar training hour requirements and board exams. If the two states do not have similar licensing requirements, the transfer applicant may be required to take Maine's board exams. You may be able to bypass the examination process by providing proof of full-time work experience as a licensed cosmetology professional in your home state. This form is part of the endorsement paperwork.

Maryland

Maryland offers licensure by endorsement if the licensee's home state has similar training hour requirements and board exams. Applicants for licensure by endorsement who wish to transfer their cosmetology license to Maryland must provide certification that your license was obtained under the same standards, is in good standing, is current and is eligible for licensure by endorsement. If the training requirements of your home state are less than those of Maryland, you need to make up your training hours and take the licensing exams before you are eligible for a Maryland license.

Massachusetts

The Massachusetts cosmetology board does not accept reciprocity from other states. In order to transfer your cosmetology license or other beauty license to MA, you must take the state's written and practical board exams. The cost is $135 for the transfer application, $120 for the test, and $68 for the license itself. (Total cost to transfer: $323.) Before you are approved to take the licensing exams in Massachusetts, your original Board of Cosmetology must provide proof that your training requirements are equal to or greater than the training requirements in Massachusetts. If you do not meet this requirement, you may be required to make up your training hours in Massachusetts.

Michigan

Michigan grants cosmetology license reciprocity or transfer if the training and testing requirements in your home state are substantially equal to Michigan's. If they are not similar or greater, you may be required to take additional training hours or to take the Michigan written and practical board exams. Work experience can help you make up the difference if your home state’s training requirements are less than those of Michigan. In Michigan, 6 months of work experience is worth 100 hours of training. The cost to transfer your cosmetology license to MI is $39.

Minnesota

If you are currently licensed in your home state, you must show verification of your licensure from your home state, your high school diploma, completion of exams and an application for reciprocity with a $195 application fee. Your verification letter is good for up to 90 days.

If you are short on hours to meet Minnesota's minimum requirements, you may make up the difference by taking additional training hours either in Minnesota or your home state. You can also make up the difference with proof of at least three hours of work experience in your home state. To qualify for license transfer, you must have at least 1550 cosmetology training hours, 600 esthetician training hours, or 350 nail technician training hours.

Mississippi

To transfer your license to Mississippi, you must submit an application of intent to apply for licensure, have a record of your training and license status from your home state sent to the Mississippi Board of Cosmetology, and appear before the board for a credentialing interview. Transfer is determined on a case-by-case basis.

Missouri

Whether or not you qualify for license transfer in Missouri depends on where you obtained you original license and what the training hours are in your home state. According to the Board of Cosmetology and Barbering Examiners, you may qualify for license transfer if your training requirements are at least 95% of what Missouri requires. You must still take the NIC licensing exams to get your Missouri license if you did not take them in your home state. 

Montana

Applicants to transfer cosmetology licenses to Montana must pass both the national NIC written and practical exams and have an active license from their home states. If you have not passed the national exams, you will be required to do so before you can transfer your license to MT. You may be required to get additional training hours in school if the board finds that your home state does not have comparable training hour requirements to get licensed.

Nebraska

To transfer your cosmetology license to Nebraska, you must have at least 2100 training hours completed and a state board-issued exam from your home state. Work experience or additional training hours in Nebraska may be considered if you don't have 2100 training hours from your home state. You can replace 100 hours of training for each month of full-time experience as a cosmetologist or instructor, as long as your full-time experience was completed within the last five years. The cost to transfer your license to Nebraska is $95.

Nevada

To transfer your cosmetology license to Nevada, you must have a current license in good standing from your home state and proof that you have passed an NIC written exam. All applicants for reciprocity with Nevada under the State Board of Cosmetology jurisdiction must take the Nevada State Law exam. The reciprocity application fee is $325.

New Hampshire

To transfer your cosmetology license to New Hampshire, the training hour requirements in your home state must be equivalent to or greater than the requirements of New Hampshire. You must have passed a written and practical national exam in English.

If you do not have equivalent or greater training hours, you must have either twice as many hours of work experience as the hour requirements or you must take additional training hours to make up the difference. You must pay a $100 fee when you apply for reciprocity.

New Jersey

New Jersey offers cosmetology licensure by endorsement to cosmetologist applicants if they meet the New Jersey requirements for licensure as a cosmetologist and have a license that is valid in another state or country. If you want to work in New Jersey with any other practitioner's license, you must submit an "out-of-state" application and the required documentation from your home state, at which point you must take the New Jersey exams. The application must be requested in writing.

New Mexico

In order to transfer your cosmetology license to New Mexico, you must furnish an affidavit from your home state's regulatory agency where you are actively licensed. The training you’ve completed must be equal to or greater than the training hours required in New Mexico.

If you have fewer than New Mexico's required training hours, you may substitute up to 150 hours of verified work experience in lieu of the minimum hours. The rest must be made up in an approved beauty school program.

New York

New York has specific reciprocity arrangements for different states and licenses. Each request for transfer by reciprocity requires the certification from the cosmetology board in your home state, and a completed cosmetology or other license application with the $40 application fee.

The states below offer licensure in New York by either reciprocity or endorsement. If your state is not listed or if you do not meet the minimum requirements, you may be required to a) take additional classes for more training hours, or b) take the New York practical and written board exams.

Cosmetologist Reciprocity - Alaska, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Virginia just require current licensure. Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia and Washington D.C. all require current licensure plus varying amounts of work experience. Work experience requirements range from one year to five years.

Cosmetology Endorsement - New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming cosmetology licensees may earn New York licenses via endorsement.

Esthetician Endorsement - Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Washington D.C., Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming licensees may apply for esthetician licensure by endorsement.

Nail Technician Endorsement - Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Washington D.C., Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming licensees may apply for nail technician licensure by endorsement. 

Natural Hair Styling Endorsement - Pennsylvania has natural hair styling licensure by endorsement.

North Carolina

North Carolina allows license transfer from Alaska, Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Texas, and West Virginia. Licensee applications from other states are decided on a case-by-case license. Transferring a license costs $64 for cosmetologists and $35 for all other beauty specialists. You must show that you have a current license from your home state, prove that you have passed a state board exam or national cosmetology exam, and be free from disciplinary actions against your license. International transfers must show original documents  from their original school and licensing board.

North Dakota

If you are an out-of-state applicant applying for your North Dakota license, you must submit an application and pay the applicable fees to get your license without taking the licensure exams. You must provide proof that you are licensed as a cosmetologist, manicurist or esthetician in another state and that your license is in good standing.

You must also show that the requirements to get licensed in your home state are substantially equal to those in ND at the time of your application. Otherwise, you may be required to take the North Dakota board examinations for sanitation practices and cosmetology law.

Ohio

All applicants who wish to transfer their cosmetology license to Ohio must pass the state's written, practical and manager's exams. Ohio doesn't offer reciprocity with other states. You may get a license in Ohio without taking an additional exam if you were previously licensed in Ohio, got your license in another state, and returned to Ohio.

Oklahoma

To transfer your cosmetology license to Oklahoma, your education and work experience needs to be equal to or greater than the Oklahoma requirements. You should also have 3 years of currently licensed work experience. If you have just one or the other, you may be required to take the Oklahoma board exams. If you are short of both, you may be required to take additional training hours at a board-approve Oklahoma cosmetology school. The cost to transfer your license is $65. 

Oregon

If you are an out-of-state applicant applying to transfer your license to Oregon, you must get verification of current licensure in good standing from your home state. This certification must be sent directly from the out-of-state regulatory authority to the Oregon Board of Cosmetology. You must take the Oregon Laws & Rules examination, and pass the exam for your field of practice. There is a $100 fee to transfer your license to Oregon.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has beauty practitioner license reciprocity with most states, but does not have reciprocity with Connecticut, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, New Mexico, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Utah. Nail technician licenses have no reciprocity with South Carolina, Alabama or West Virginia. There is a $60 fee to transfer your license to Pennsylvania.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island does not offer reciprocity, but does offer you to practice in the state using licensure by endorsement. Applicants who wish to transfer their licenses and work in Rhode Island must meet RI minimum training requirements. If you don't meet the criteria for your specialty, you must get the additional training hours at an approved school.

Your original licensing board must submit proof of your licensure directly to the Rhode Island Department of Health. Cosmetologists and barbers may use 3 months of work experience to replace 100 training hours, up to 500 training hours. Three months of work experience count for 40 training hours for estheticians, up to 200 hours. Three months of nail technician work experience count for 20 training hours, up to 100 hours.

For answers to additional questions about obtaining a Rhode Island state cosmetology license, contact the board, whose information is detailed below.

South Carolina

To transfer your cosmetology license to South Carolina, your education and work experience must be equal to or greater than the South Carolina requirements. If South Carolina does not have reciprocity with your state and you are not currently licensed but have your training hours completed, you must take the South Carolina board exams to get licensed.

South Dakota

To transfer your cosmetology license to South Dakota, your education and work experience needs to be equal to or greater than what is required in South Dakota. The reciprocity to transfer your license is $100. You must also provide proof of high school graduation or GED, a passport or driver's license, and an affidavit from the licensing agency of your home state.

Tennessee

In order to transfer your cosmetology license to Tennessee, you must be able to demonstrate that you met Tennessee's minimum training hour requirements at a school in your home state. If you do not meet the training requirements, you can supply proof of five years of work experience to make up the difference.

If you cannot meet those requirements, you must submit your application for reciprocity to the board office for individual consideration. You may be required to take additional training hours to meet the minimum requirements.

Texas

Texas does have reciprocity with many states.  For the majority of states, you do not have to complete any additional training or experience to transfer your license to Texas. A handful of states require one year of work experience in addition to your license. Only Florida and New York require two full years of work experience. The cost to transfer your license to Texas is $100.

Utah

Utah does not allow beauty license reciprocity, but they do offer licensure by endorsement if you meet their qualifications. To apply for endorsement, you must have your original licensing agency submit proof of your cosmetology licensure and education hours to the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing. If you completed your training hours in another country, you must have an approved credentialing company verify your training.

Vermont

To be eligible for licensure by endorsement, you must pay a fee of $110 and submit a completed endorsement application to the Board. You must have evidence of your professional training submitted to the Board. It should show that you’ve completed 1000 hours for barber licensure, 1500 hours for cosmetology licensure, 400 hours for manicurist licensure, or 600 hours for esthetician licensure.

Virginia

Virginia offers licensure by endorsement if you want to transfer your credentials from another state. The examination requirements for licensure by endorsement in VA are based on examinations previously completed in your home state. The cost to transfer your license to Virginia is $105 for a beauty practitioner license or $125 for an instructor license. The amount of hours you completed in your home state must be at least 80% of Virginia requirements, or else you are not eligible for licensure via endorsement.

Washington

To transfer your cosmetology license to Washington, you must have a current license from your home state, must have taken a practical and written exam to get the license in your home state, and must have a license in good standing. You can then send certification and your reciprocity application fee of $50 to the state board. If you originally earned your license in another country, you must take the Washington license exams to get licensed in this state.

West Virginia

To transfer your license to West Virginia, you must contact your home state's Board of Cosmetology that issued your original license and request that proof of Board certification be mailed to the West Virginia Board. This form must be sent directly between the state boards.

If your license is from an NIC state, your application may be processed more quickly. NIC states include AL, AZ, AR, DE, GA, ID, ME, MO, NH, NC, NV, OH, PA, SC, SD, UT, and WY. Please note that there is no reciprocity or license transfer option available for nail technicians and manicurists.

The Board will accept licensed work experience in lieu of part of the required training hours. Work experience is awarded at 25 hours per month of licensed salon work, or 300 hours per year. Your work hours must be proven via tax receipts. Total work experience accepted may not exceed 50% of the required hours to transfer, and it must have been acquired in the past 5 years. If you have not worked in the last 5 years, you must take the complete WV examinations covering practical skills, the national written exam, the State written exam and the State law exam, which calls for a $50 fee.

Wisconsin

To transfer your license to Wisconsin, you must have 4000 hours of licensed experience and go through the WI license transfer application process. If you do not yet have 4000 hours of work experience, you will need to take the Wisconsin board exams to earn your license by examination. The training requirements of your home state must be equal to or greater than the training requirements of Wisconsin, otherwise the Cosmetology Examining Board may require you to complete your remaining hours at a Wisconsin school.

Wyoming

To transfer your license to Wyoming, you must have an equal or greater number of training hours from your home state. If you do not meet Wyoming's training hour requirements, you may be required to take the written and practical exam if your training program is not considered equivalent. If you have additional education, one credit hour is equivalent to 30 clock hours. One year of work experience can lower the cosmetology license hour requirements to 1600 hours for transfer students. The cost to transfer your license is $273.

What are license transfer, reciprocity and endorsement?

Cosmetology license transfer is when a state other than your home state of licensure allows you to perform cosmetology services legally. Often when transferring your cosmetology license from one state to another, you will need a record of your completed training hours from your beauty school or state cosmetology licensing board, and proof that you've taken and passed the board exams. Reciprocity and endorsement are two common ways to be able to transfer your cosmetology licensure from one state to the next.

Cosmetology license reciprocity is when another state allows you to work under the license of your current state. (So for example, if you live in Kansas City, Missouri and have a Missouri cosmetology license, but you also want to work in Kansas, you would need to find out if the state of Kansas will allow you to work under your Missouri license). Reciprocity often depends on whether the two states have similar or equivalent licensing requirements. Some states have pre-determined reciprocity relationships because they've established that their education and exam requirements are substantially similar.

Some states have a policy of licensure by endorsement. This means that you are attempting to qualify for licensure in a new state without having to take the new state's board examinations. This is usually achieved by having a current, active cosmetology license in good standing in your home state, and similar to the reciprocity requirements above, your home state must have comparable or more stringent education and exam requirements than the new state. There may also be age, education or other requirements to get licensure by endorsement.

04. License Renewal
What if my cosmetology license is expired?

If your license expires and you do not renew it on time, it is illegal to continue performing professional cosmetology services during that time. Again, it is the responsibility of the licensee to renew your license on time. The eligibility and requirements to renew an expired license vary state to state. If your cosmetology license is expired, but you decide to reactivate it, you may expect any or all of the following from your state board:

  • If it is expired only briefly, or within a set amount of time, you may only need to go through the normal renewal process and pay a higher renewal fee.
  • If it is expired for several years, you may be required to re-take the written and/or practical exams to reactivate it.
  • If it is expired for several years, you may be required to take a certain amount of continuing education hours to be eligible to sit for the board exams and again and get re-licensed.

What are the laws pertaining to cosmetology license renewal?

Once again, these regulations will vary from state to state. There are a few points to consider about cosmetology license renewal.

  • Period of Time - Some states renew as often as every 12 months, whereas others allow 2 to 3 years before requiring licensees to renew.
  • Renewal Date - For some states, your license must be renewed by your birth date. In others, there's a set date that everyone must meet each year. 
  • Continuing Education Requirements - While continuing education is always recommended to stay current in the ever-changing beauty business, only some states require showing proof of a minimum number of continuing education hours (CEUs) during the licensure period in order to renew your license. 
  • Fees - The fees to get licensed in the first place, and to renew any of the beauty licenses, will vary from state to state.
  • Exams - Some states require you to take a fresh written exam to demonstrate that you are still knowledgeable about state law, safety and sanitation. Sometimes this exam must be taken in person, but more often state boards will mail a booklet and a test to complete and mail back to the board.

It is the responsibility of the licensee to remember to renew your license, not the board. Some boards are kind enough to send notifications and reminders, but it is not guaranteed, and you are still individually responsible for renewing on time.

05. Cosmetology State Board Exam
Where can I find additional information about the state board examinations?

Most states require both written and practical cosmetology exams of students after graduating from beauty school. Nearly all states have their own boards of cosmetology. Some states use national cosmetology exams, like the NIC (National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology) and the PSI Services practical exams, whereas others use custom exams just for their states instead. Contact the state boards of cosmetology directly to inquire about the cosmetology state board examinations dates, times and details. Most beauty colleges and cosmetology schools will also have useful information about the examinations available to students who are near graduation and can help guide you on getting yours scheduled. Some states only allow students to take the board exams in English, but some states offer all or parts of the exams in Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean, French, Chinese or Arabic. Here is a helpful chart of languages cosmetology boards accept.

There are numerous resources available to help prepare graduating beauty students pass the cosmetology licensing exams, including online study guides and practice tests, and some state boards even offer a study guide booklet. We recommend you watch this interview with Beauty Brands Master Stylist Michelle Reid to hear her tips on how to prepare for the exams. And here is another article called How to Pass the Cosmetology Exam with four great tips on how to mentally prepare, and some bonus advice from several of our Twitter followers who have already passed the exams in their state.

State Board Test Video

Cosmetology Board Exams Language Chart

Earning your cosmetology license involves taking a written exam in most states, but what if English is not your first or primary language? Many states offer Cosmetology licensing exams in foreign languages, to ensure that your knowledge is assessed easily.

If you are not sure if your state offers the cosmetology license exam in your native language, you can check our chart below. We have made a list to help you find out if your state offers the cosmetology board exams in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean, French, Chinese or Arabic.

Some states only allow certain professional license exams to be taken in non-English languages, so it is always best to double check with your state board of cosmetology. You should also check with your school to see if they offer bilingual classes or training in other languages.

Foreign Language Board Exam Assistance

Each state has its own rules and regulations for board exams administered in languages other than English. Depending on your state and the language you are taking the cosmetology license exam in, you may be able to use special aides to help you take and pass the test. These may include the use of a translation service or interpreter. 

Some state boards allow you to take the exams with the assistance of a word-to-word dictionary. This means that the dictionary can translate the word from your first language to English, but the dictionary may not have definitions of some of the words.

Some states allow you to have the assistance of a translator in either the written or practical portions of the exams, and sometimes both. Some states may have the professional translator on staff, but others may require you to hire one or bring one with you to the exam. However, the regulations will likely be very strict on this so as to prevent cheating.

Always make sure to notify your school and the licensing board well in advance if you need to take the licensing exam in another language. The state board of cosmetology can advise you on their specific rules and required, and what help you’re permitted to use on the test. Also, if you do not notify the board in advance, you may be forced to take the exam in English.

List of Languages Accepted in Each State

 

STATE ENGLISH SPANISH VIETNAMESE KOREAN FRENCH CHINESE ARABIC
Alabama            
Alaska      
Arizona          
Arkansas      
California      
Canada            
Colorado            
Connecticut            
Delaware            
Florida        
Georgia          
Hawaii            
Idaho            
Illinois        
Indiana      
Iowa            
Kansas            
Kentucky            
Louisiana            
Maine            
Maryland          
Massachusetts        
Michigan        
Minnesota        
Mississippi            
Missouri        
Montana            
Nebraska            
Nevada      
New Hampshire            
New Jersey          
New Mexico          
New York          
North Carolina        
North Dakota            
Ohio            
Oklahoma          
Oregon          
Pennsylvania      
Rhode Island          
South Carolina            
South Dakota          
Tennessee            
Texas      
Utah            
Vermont            
Virginia      
Washington        
Washington, D.C.      
West Virginia            
Wisconsin          
Wyoming            

Chart Last Updated December 21, 2015

Spanish-Language Cosmetology License Exams (Boards en Español)

Necesidad de tomar su exámenes en español?

Upon completing a cosmetology program, you will need to take a cosmetology license exam to receive the proper licensure to actually work in the field. If English is not your first language, this test might seem like a frightening feat to conquer. However, many states offer cosmetology license exams in Spanish for your convenience, and some allow you to use translating devices, so you can adapt to the English version of the test. Check with the beauty schools you're considering to see if they teach cosmetology classes in Spanish.

Across the United States, each state has a test you must take and pass to become certified to perform cosmetology services, but only some states use a national standardized test. Other states have developed their own test. Texas and Alabama are two of the states that use tests from a company that goes by the acronym PSI. This particular company provides examinations for both cosmetologists and barbers. In fact, the states that use testing material from PSI have the ability to choose to order tests in several different languages (including Spanish, Vietnamese and Korean among others).

If I take my classes in English and Spanish, what about my board exams?

States That Allow Students to Take Boards in Spanish

Some states even offer the opportunity to take the written and/or practical portions of the cosmetology exam in the Spanish language, or with the help of a word-to-word dictionary or professional translator. Below is a list of some of the states that allow students to take parts or all of the cosmetology license exams in Spanish:

You can also check with your state of interest to see whether it offers cosmetology exams in Spanish. Simply review the information that is available for your state board of cosmetology. We have also compiled a chart of allowed board exam languages, including Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean, French, Chinese and Arabic.

Another, more complicated option is to take the exam in another state that does administer the exam in Spanish and then try to achieve reciprocity with another state. Some states, such as New York, have reciprocity with a great number of other states. This means that you could gain credentials as a licensed cosmetologist in a state without having to take the cosmetologist exam in English. However, this is not recommended.

State Laws for Spanish Board Exams

On the contrary, there are states that have strict rules regarding the language the test is in, as well as what external sources can be used to translate the test. The areas that have these strict rules state that it is a safety concern for those dealing with toxic chemicals to have different understandings of the best practices, laws and regulations, so the individual taking the test must be fluent in English. Connecticut laws require that the test is given in English only. Massachusetts requires that the test is in English only, and the state also forbids the use of a translator or a translating dictionary, due to security reasons and as a safety precaution. 

Pennsylvania offers the test in English, Spanish or Vietnamese, while the state of New York extends the option to take the test in another language only if it is available. When the test is not available in another language, the state allows you to bring a translator to accommodate to the language barrier. If you live in New Jersey, you cannot take the test in any other language besides English, but you may bring a translator if  necessary and only if the licensing board approves it. Residents of Virginia can make the decision to test in English, Spanish or in Vietnamese.

You must notify your school and your state licensing board if you plan to take the licensing exam in another language, with a translator, or with a language-to-language translation dictionary. They can advise you on their specific rules and required, and ensure that you are using only approved methods to take the exams If you fail to notify the board in advance, you may be forced to take the exam in English.

The states with a high number of Spanish-speaking individuals, such as California, Texas, New Mexico and Florida, supply prospective certified cosmetologists with the option of an exam that is translated into Spanish. Illinois and Washington D.C. also present potential cosmetologists with alternative tests that are written in Spanish.

If you are not sure whether your state allows cosmetology license exams, check with your state board of cosmetology. Or, click here to view a chart of states that offer part or all of the board exams in other languages, including Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean, French, Chinese and Arabic.

06. Continuing Education Requirements
Massage Therapy Continuing Education

Why is continuing education important?

Continuing education for licensed massage technicians is essential to help you provide your clients with the best possible experience. Continuing education demonstrates the therapist's commitment to professionalism. Classes allow therapists to train in other areas of the massage therapy field or in new techniques.

During continuing education classes, you can network with other therapists, and may help further your career. Taking courses helps therapists stay interested and perform their work with more enthusiasm, skill and quality technique. This attracts more clients and makes the therapist more valuable to an employer. More clients and more value can mean more income for many therapists.

Massage continuing education also helps therapists become more competent and productive in their areas of focus. Ongoing education fills in the gaps in basic massage therapy training, because even the best program cannot fully prepare a therapist for the complex nature of clinical practice. Taking continuing education hours is part of the job of being an LMT, and you are expected to dedicate yourself to learning and growing in your field so you can continue to provide the safest, most beneficial services to your clientele. 

What should someone look for in continuing education units (CEUs)? National board approved? State board approved?

States that require CEUs for relicensing generally require either NCBTMB or NCETM boards approve the classes. Most states that do not have statewide licensing of massage therapists require licensure through the city in which the therapist practices. Therapists are encouraged to check their state or city licensing board for specific approval requirements.

NCBTMB continuing education courses must enhance or expand the knowledge base of the student. Courses designed to promote a product for use or resales to the public are not acceptable to these boards. Some states require a specific amount of "hands-on" or in-person classes. Check with the CEU provider to ensure they have either a state or an NCBTMB provider number to ensure the classes count towards the requirement.

What types of continuing education options are available?

Continuing education is available in many formats, but be aware that the types of classes accepted by the boards will vary from state to state, and some states restrict the number of hours allowed for classes taken on line or in a home study program.

  • In-person seminars or classes
  • Online
  • Home study
  • Classes by mail
  • Combination home study courses with an online exam
  • Classes at conferences and conventions
  • Events with the state or local chapter of a massage therapy association
  • Regional workshops
  • DVDs
  • Workbooks

What types of classes might one look for to get CEU hours?

CEU classes generally focus on using massage and bodywork techniques, addressing specific needs and conditions, or working with specific populations of clients. Many therapists choose classes to learn new techniques and learn about new advances in the field of massage therapy. Other classes may include business skills such as record keeping, business and practice management and business ethics.

Therapists may choose to learn about new applications such as heat, cold and sound therapies. Some states require ongoing education on state laws and professional ethics and boundaries. Others require continuing education in infectious disease control, hygiene and management of the treatment environment. Marketing and business skills classes are popular, especially with private practice therapists.

What are the massage therapy continuing education requirements for each state?

Many states have no current massage CEU requirements, such as Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Of the states that do have a CEU requirement, some are very specific regarding the classes that are acceptable. It is important to check with your state prior to your renewal date to obtain the most up-to-date information.

Following is a list of states that currently have continuing education requirements to renew massage therapist licenses.

Last updated December 21,2015

State CEU Hours How Often
Alabama 16 Hours 2 Years
Arizona 25 Hours 2 Years
Arkansas 18 Hours 2 Years
Connecticut 24 Hours 4 Years
Delaware 24 Hours 2 Years
District of Columbia 12 Hours 2 Years
Florida 24 Hours 2 Years
Georgia 24 Hours 2 Years
Illinois 24 Hours 2 Years
Iowa 24 Hours 2 Years
Kentucky 24 Hours 2 Years
Louisiana 12 Hours 1 Year
Maryland 24 Hours 2 Years
Michigan 18 Hours 3 Years
Mississippi 24 Hours 2 Years
Missouri 12 Hours 2 Years
Montana 24 Hours 2 Years
Nebraska 24 Hours 2 Years
New Hampshire 12 Hours 2 Years
New Jersey 16 Hours 2 Years
New Mexico 16 Hours 2 Years
New York 36 Hours 3 Years
North Carolina 24 Hours 2 Years
North Dakota 32 Hours 2 Years
Oregon 25 Hours 2 Years
Pennsylvania 24 Hours 2 Years
South Carolina 12 Years 2 Years
South Dakota 8 Hours 2 Years
Tennessee 25 Hours 2 Years
Texas 12 Hours 2 Years
Virginia 24 Hours 2 Years
Washington 24 Hours 2 Years
West Virginia 24 Hours 2 Years

Other frequently asked question topics