How to Become a Cosmetologist in Washington, DC

Hair salons and spas are a mainstay in Washington D.C., and for good reason. Washington’s salon industry caters to the professionals that work here, and the affluent people who reside here. As of 2013, there were nearly 230 salons in D.C. and more than 1,400 salon employees, bringing in annual sales of more than $158 million!

From the cozy community of Dupont Circle and the trendy, walker-friendly West End neighborhood, to the affluent neighborhoods of Georgetown and Foggy Bottom, there is no shortage of places for you to showcase your talents.

To become a licensed cosmetologist through the D.C. Board of Barber and Cosmetology, follow the steps shown in this guide:

Complete a Cosmetology Program
Complete the Cosmetology License Application
Take and Pass the Theory and Practical Examinations for Licensure
Explore your Professional Opportunities in Washington D.C.
Maintain your Washington D.C. Cosmetologist License

 


 

Step 1. Complete a Cosmetology Program

If you want to become a cosmetologist in Washington D.C. by earning a cosmetology operator license, you must first complete a course of training, which may be accomplished through a formal cosmetology program or an apprenticeship:

Cosmetology Programs

To qualify for a cosmetologist license in Washington D.C., you must complete at least 1,500 hours of training through a licensed cosmetology school that is acceptable to the Board. A comprehensive cosmetology program must include the following courses and hours:

  • Manicuring/pedicuring: 50 hours
  • Pressing: 100 hours
  • Wave/styling: 100 hours
  • Braiding: 35 hours
  • Shampooing: 40 hours
  • Permanent wave: 150 hours
  • Facials/massage: 50 hours
  • Scalp treatments: 25 hours
  • Dye and bleach: 100 hours
  • Haircutting: 100 hours
  • Hairpieces: 25 hours
  • Chemical straightening: 225 hours
  • Electrology: 75 hours
  • Personal hygiene: 50 hours
  • Ethics, salesmanship: 25 hours
  • Courtesy, conduct, D.C. law: 50 hours
  • Anatomy, physiology, bacteriology, pathology, chemistry, and electricity: 150 hours
  • Sanitation: 50 hours

A full cosmetology program in Washington D.C. may be certificate/diploma program or it may be an associate degree. You may complete a cosmetology program through a vocational school, a cosmetology school, or a community college. While a community college associate degree program lasts about 2 years, a certificate/diploma program generally lasts between 15 and 18 months.

You may also choose to become a specialized cosmetology operator through licensure, which requires less training than a full cosmetology program. To earn a specialized cosmetology license, you must complete the following training hours:

  • Hair braider: 100 hours
  • Electrologist: 600 hours
  • Esthetician operator: 600 hours
  • Nail technician (manicurist): 350 hours
  • Electrologist: 600 hours

You may also choose to complete training in one or more of the above areas and become licensed as a cosmetologist with additional, specialized cosmetology skills. There are a number of cosmetology programs that allow you to combine training in one or more areas.

Note: If you are a licensed barber in Washington D.C., you may earn licensure as a cosmetologist upon the completion of 500 classroom training hours in a cosmetology training course; likewise, if you are a licensed cosmetologist in Washington D.C., you may earn your barber license through the completion of 500 classroom training hours in a barber training course.

Apprenticeship

You may also satisfy your training and experience requirements through a cosmetology apprenticeship. A cosmetology apprenticeship requires the completion of at least 2,000 hours of apprenticeship work experience, which must be completed in less than 2 years. You must also take the appropriate examinations for licensure within 6 months of completing your apprenticeship.

To qualify to work as a cosmetology apprenticeship in Washington D.C., you must be at least 18 years old, and you must complete at least 500 hours of cosmetology theory education through a Board-approved school before you can begin your apprenticeship. The program must consist of the following:

  • Shampooing: 15 hours
  • Scalp treatments: 10 hours
  • Chemical straightening: 150 hours
  • Personal hygiene: 50 hours
  • Ethics, salesmanship: 25 hours
  • Courtesy, conduct, D.C. law: 50 hours
  • Pathology, anatomy, chemistry, physiology, bacteriology, and electricity: 150 hours
  • Sanitation: 50 hours

You must first contact the DC Apprenticeship Council at 202-698-3561 or 202-698-5099 to apply to the cosmetology apprentice program.

 


 

Step 2. Complete the Cosmetology License Application

The Board has contracted Pearson VUE to handle both the application and examination process for cosmetology licenses. Therefore, upon completing your cosmetology educational program or apprenticeship, you must complete a New License Application, along with the fee of $230 (includes an examination fee of $55, an application fee of $65, and a license fee of $110), and submit it to Pearson VUE.

Department DC-BC
8401 Corporate Drive
Metro Plex 1, Suite 250
Landover, MD 20785

Note: You must be at least 17 years old and have completed the 10th grade to qualify for licensure as a cosmetologist in Washington D.C.

 


 

Step 3. Take and Pass the Theory and Practical Examinations for Licensure

The Board will review your application and determine your eligibility to sit for the cosmetology theory (written) examination. If you are approved by the Board, you will receive an Authorization to Test notice from the Examination Unit, which will include instructions on how to schedule your examination. Note: You must schedule your examination within 30 days of receiving your notice.

You can direct any questions regarding the application process to Pearson VUE at 1-877-374-1155.

The cosmetology theory examination is offered six times a year: January, March, May, July, September, and November. Once you have taken and passed the theory examination, you will automatically be registered for the next regularly scheduled cosmetology practical examination. If you fail any part of the cosmetology examination, you must file a new application with the Board as a re-examination applicant.

Once you have successfully passed both the theory and written practical examinations, Pearson VUE will contact the Board, who will then issue you a Washington D.C. cosmetologist license.

 


 

Step 4. Explore your Professional Opportunities in Washington D.C.

Licensed cosmetologists in Washington D.C. have a number of career options that allow them to achieve their professional goals. For example, you may choose to become an employee of a salon during the first, few years as to gain valuable knowledge and skills and begin to grow a client list. After you have become comfortable with D.C.’s salon industry, you may choose to take your skills and client list and become an independent contractor, renting a chair in a popular salon. Many cosmetologists also choose to open their own spa or salon.

Just a few of the top salons in Washington D.C. worth learning more about include:

  • 1201 Salon
  • Alanya Spa
  • Andre Chreky: The Salon Spa
  • Bang Salon/Spa
  • David Rios Salon
  • Drybar
  • Eivind and Hans Salon and Spa of Georgetown
  • Fringe Hair Studio
  • Hair Lounge Salon

 


 

Step 5. Maintain your Washington D.C. Cosmetologist License

All cosmetologist licenses in Washington D.C. expire on April 15 of every even-numbered year.

To renew you license, you must complete a renewal application and at least 6 continuing education credits. Of the 6 required hours, at least 2 must be in health, safety, and/or welfare subjects, while the other 4 must be in general elective courses, such as:

  • District laws and regulations
  • Ethics and standards of professional practice
  • Product knowledge
  • HIV/AIDS and infectious disease control
  • Business

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