District of Columbia Licensing Overview for a Cosmetologist

Licensing for cosmetologist in District of Columbia is controlled by the D.C. Board of Barber and Cosmetology.

General Guidelines for a Cosmetologist in District of Columbia

Follow the specific requirements to perform cosmetology services outlined by the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.

Who’s allowed to perform these services?


General requirements for cosmetologist license required?

At least 17 years old and have completed the 10th grade

What’s the state licensing site for cosmetologist?

D.C. Board of Barber and Cosmetology

What are some training programs available for cosmetologist?

See training programs

How long is a license good for and when do I need to renew?

Expires April 15 of every even-numbered year

What are fees associated with licensing?


Cosmetologist / Esthetician Licensing

A cosmetologist is a beauty professional who specializes in the beautification and health of their client’s hair, skin and nails. An esthetician is a beauty professional that specializes in the beautification and health of their client’s skin, particularly through hair removal, skin and facial treatments and the application of makeup. With additional training, a cosmetologist can become an esthetician and vice versa. While there are fundamental differences between cosmetologists and estheticians as we have just explained, the process of becoming licensed within each career is almost the same. With this being said, the process of being a fully licensed cosmetologist and/or esthetician varies between each state.

The following pages look at the detailed information on individual state licensing to help give you the best advice as you move forward in your career path.

There are four main steps that need to be completed to become a qualified cosmetologist / esthetician in the state of Washington D.C. These include:

  1. The successful completion of a cosmetology / esthetician course
  2. Submission of an application with the D.C. Board of Barber and Cosmetology
  3. Successfully undergo state testing and pass the minimum requirements of each test
  4. Maintain your knowledge base through regular education to keep your cosmetologist / esthetician license current.


There are basic educational requirements needed before one can become a licensed cosmetologist and/or esthetician in Washington D.C. The minimum education requirement for this profession is a certificate or diploma in cosmetology / esthetician undertaken at a registered beauty school. To successfully complete this course, students are required to undertake a minimum of 1500 hours of training before they can be signed off. For further training, some beauticians may choose to gain an associate degree to boost their qualifications. For those looking to begin their own start up business, an associate degree is quite a desirable skill to possess. 

To become an esthetician, students are required to complete a minimum of 600 hours of coursework at a registered beauty school. 

Another popular method in which to become a standard cosmetologist in Washington D.C is through an apprenticeship. For those wishing to undertake an apprenticeship instead of attending a registered beauty school, they will need to be accepted under the charge of a licensed cosmetologist and complete two years and 2000 supervised hours within the field for cosmetology. 

Application for licensure

Upon the successful completion of a cosmetology / esthetician course or an apprenticeship, students within Washington D.C are required to submit an application for licensure. This license application must be submitted to the D.C. Board of Barber and Cosmetology for both a cosmetology license and an esthetician license. All professionals will be required to submit educational transcripts and attach a fee to their application before undergoing mandatory licensing exams. The fee for both the cosmetology and esthetician application and examinations is $230.

Licensing Exam

The state of Washington D.C requires students who wish to become fully licensed as either a cosmetologist or an esthetician to successfully pass a licensing exam. Washington D.C exams are administered by Pearson VUE. This exam consists of two parts: a theoretical exam, and a practical exam.  

The cosmetology exam will cover topics such as:

  • Safety
  • Hair Analysis
  • Styling
  • Physical processes
  • Chemical processes
  • Hygiene
  • Nails
  • State laws and regulation
  • Client consultation

The esthetician exam will cover topics such as:

  • Safety regulations
  • Facials
  • Hair removal
  • Client contact
  • Skin analysis
  • Facials
  • Chemical peels
  • Massage
  • State laws and regulations
  • Makeup

Ongoing education

Following the successful completion of your state license to become either a cosmetology or an esthetician, it is important to remember that you must renew this license before April of odd-numbered years. This process is simple and can be done online through the D.C. Board of Barber and Cosmetology.

In Washington D.C, professionals are required to undertake a minimum of 6 educational credits per licensing cycle. Two of these credits must be in the field of health, safety, and/or welfare subjects, while the other four must be in general elective courses from the list provided by the Board. This allows them to stay up to date with the latest techniques and trends in the field of beauty.


District of Columbia