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Cosmetology Navigator

The purpose of the Cosmetology Guide is to provide transparency, inform applicants of expected timelines for receiving your license, and outline steps you can take to reduce mistakes and mitigate delays. To provide the greatest clarity on the licensing process from start to finish, we will break it down into three phases, providing estimated times for each stage of the process, and recommendations for how to reduce processing times.


A cosmetologist  (CO) needs a license when performing the following services for pay:

  • Cleaning and/or beautifying human hair by cutting, coloring and/or styling human hair with or without chemicals
  • Removing unwanted hair
  • Using mechanical or electrical appliances on the upper body for massage, stimulation and/or manipulation
  • Applying makeup, preparations and creams
  • Manicures and/or pedicures

Two of the primary ways to receive a cosmetologist (CO) license in PA are by examination or by reciprocity. 

Cosmetologist License by Examination

Obtaining a cosmetologist license by examination means that you have completed a minimum of 1,250 hours in the cosmetology curriculum at a licensed school of cosmetology and passed the Pennsylvania Cosmetology Licensure Examination. 

 Accordion ‭[1]‬

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Cosmetologist License by Reciprocity

Obtaining a cosmetologist license by reciprocity means you have already obtained a license in another state.  A person is eligible for licensure by reciprocity if they are currently licensed in one of the states with which Pennsylvania has an understanding of reciprocity with and has at least two or more years of licensed work experience.  

Currently, the State Board of Cosmetology has a reciprocal agreement with every state except: Connecticut, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Utah. 

 Accordion ‭[2]‬

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Process Overview

How to Apply for a Professional License.


What Happens to My Application?


  1. Sign in or create account at

  2. Select the Cosmetology Board to apply and plain-language questions will appear to help you get started

  3. Application appears – review checklist, upload required documents, follow prompts

  4. Review all information and edit as needed

  5. Pay the required fee and your application is submitted

  6. Keep an eye on your email or get real-time updates at