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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

Initial Cosmetologist License by Examination Phases and Timeline:

Phase I

Less than one week
in calendar days.

Phase One measures the time between when an applicant pays the required exam fees to the testing institution, and when the Department notifies you that you are eligible to take the exam or that your application is incomplete and we need additional information.

Phase II

approximately 4 weeks
in calendar days.

Phase Two measures the time it takes for an applicant or third-party entity to respond to the Department with all application requirements, including notification to the Department that the applicant has passed the exam.

Phase III

approximately 1 week
in calendar days.

Phase Three measures the time between the Department’s receipt of a complete application including examination results and when a license is issued to the applicant.

Renewing an Existing Cosmetologist License

On average, licenses for cosmetologists are renewed within three calendar days.


Tips for reducing processing time for cosmetologist license by examination:

To help reduce your processing time, please note the following suggestions and information:

Board staff cannot begin to process cosmetologist applications until the applicant pays the required exam fees to the testing institution. Send your payment of $93 to Dasher Inc. via money order, cashier’s check or business check. Please send payment to:

  • Pearson Vue C/O Dasher Inc
    PO BOX 1652
    Harrisburg, PA 17105

An official state criminal history record check (CHRC) is required from your current state of residence. For applicants living, working, or completing training in Pennsylvania, your CHRC will be generated automatically as part of your application and the required fee will be included at checkout.

  • In addition to the background check from your current state of residence, you will need to submit official state CHRCs from every state where you have lived, worked, or completed training during the last five years. An FBI background check can be submitted in lieu of state checks where you previously lived, worked or trained. No record checks can be dated more than 90 days prior to the date you submit your application.

You will need to provide your “School Code,” which is the school’s license number issued by the State Board of Cosmetology. Find this code by contacting your school OR you may look it up using the PALS Verify A License search.

  • If you attended a school outside of Pennsylvania to obtain your cosmetology hours, please use school code: CS00000.

For early testers ONLY: After you complete your exam, your school must submit the Final Affidavit and Final Transcript. The school must send directly to Dasher Inc. You will not receive your license until Dasher receives these documents from the school.

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