Pennsylvania Licensing Overview for a Cosmetologist

Licensing for cosmetologist in Pennsylvania is controlled by the Pennsylvania State Board of Cosmetology.

General Guidelines for a Cosmetologist in Pennsylvania

Specific requirements to perform cosmetologist services can generally be used as a guideline, but make sure to check with your local governing rules and regulations.

Who’s allowed to perform these services?


General requirements for cosmetologist license required?

At least 16 years old; 10th grade education or equivalent

What’s the state licensing site for cosmetologist?

Pennsylvania State Board of 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?

Renew every 2 years, in even/odd-numbered years, by Jan. 31

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 Pennsylvania. These include:

  1. The successful completion of a cosmetology / esthetician course
  2. Successfully undergo state testing and pass the minimum requirements of each test
  3. Submission of an application of intent with the Pennsylvania State Board of Cosmetology
  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 the state of Pennsylvania. 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 1250 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 300 hours of coursework at a registered beauty school. 

Another popular method in which to become a standard cosmetologist in the state of Pennsylvania 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 three years and 2000 supervised hours within the field. 

Licensing Exam

The state of Pennsylvania requires students who wish to become fully licensed as either a cosmetologist or an esthetician to successfully pass a licensing exam. Pennsylvania exams are proctored by the Pearson VUE testing agency. 

The cosmetology exam will cover topics such as:

  • Safety
  • Hair Analysis
  • Styling
  • Physical processes
  • Chemical processes
  • Hygiene
  • Nails
  • Client consultation

The esthetician exam will cover topics such as:

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

The cosmetology practical exam will typically look at a range of areas of the profession including (but not limited to):

  • Maintaining a safe work environment
  • Hair set up
  • Hair removal
  • Hair cutting
  • Hair coloring  

The esthetician practical exam will typically look at a range of areas of the profession including (but not limited to):

  • Hygienic set up
  • Facial cleansing
  • Hair removal
  • Makeup application
  • Facial mask

Application for licensure

Upon the successful completion of a cosmetology / esthetician course or an apprenticeship, students within the state of Pennsylvania are required to submit an application for licensure. This license application must be submitted to Pennsylvania State Board of Cosmetology for both a cosmetology license and an esthetician license. You will be required to submit all educational transcripts and copies of your state exam outcomes as well as a licensing fee.

Continuing 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 every two years. This process is simple and can be done online through the Pennsylvania State Board of Cosmetology

In the state of Pennsylvania, professionals are not required to undertake any further education during their renewal period. However, many professionals do undertake further education to help their career move forward.