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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]‬

Expand AllClick here for a more accessible version
Phases & Timeframes: Initial Cosmetologist License by Examination

Phase I

CURRENT TIMEFRAME:
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

CURRENT TIMEFRAME:
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

CURRENT TIMEFRAME:
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.


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.



 

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]‬

Expand AllClick here for a more accessible version
Phases & Timeframes: Cosmetologist License by Reciprocity

Phase I

CURRENT TIMEFRAME:
Less than two weeks
in calendar days.

Phase One measures the time between a submitted application and the Board staff’s initial determination of the application status.  This phase may include license issuance or a follow-up request, in the case of incomplete applications.

Phase II

CURRENT TIMEFRAME:
2-3 weeks
in calendar days.

Phase Two measures the time for an applicant to respond to the Department with all application requirements.  This phase lasts from the date that a follow-up request is sent to the applicant until all items are received by the Department.  This phase may include experience documents, background checks, or licensure verifications.

Phase III

CURRENT TIMEFRAME:
Less than a week
in calendar days.

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



Tips for reducing processing time for cosmetologist license by reciprocity

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

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 5 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.

Download the Employers’ Certification for each employer you indicated on your online application and have the employer complete and sign the Certification.  Be sure that the employer provides the dates of employment (start and end dates).




Renewing an Existing Cosmetologist License

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

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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 www.pals.pa.gov

  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 www.pals.pa.gov