How to Become a Cosmetologist in Hawaii

The State of Hawaii is one of the top paying states in the United States for cosmetologists. For the very best cosmetologists with the most education and experience, the base salary can climb up to almost $60,000 a year – and that’s before tips!

Enter Zip:

The Hawaii Barbering and Cosmetology Board is the sole agency responsible for determining and enforcing the licensing requirements for cosmetologists and other beuty professionals in Hawaii.

The Hawaii Barbering and Cosmetology Board classifies all beauty industry personal care providers as “beauty operators,” including cosmetologist. As a cosmetologist in Hawaii, your job will include using your creativity and skill to focus mainly on hairdressing, facial, and manicure services. Specializing as an esthetician or nail technician would require you to meet a separate set of licensing requirements.

Follow these steps to become a licensed cosmetologist in Hawaii:

Satisfy Cosmetologist Beauty Operator Training Requirements
Submit a Cosmetologist Beauty Operator License Application
Take and Pass the Prometric Exam
Apply for Licensure with the Hawaii Board



Step 1. Satisfy Cosmetologist Beauty Operator Training Requirements

To satisfy qualification requirements, you must be at least sixteen (16) years old, have a social security number, and hold a high school diploma. After these basic requirements are met, you have three pathways to choose for meeting the requirements: beauty school, beauty apprenticeship, or having a license from another jurisdiction.

Beauty School

Attending beauty school is the most traditional route toward a cosmetology license in Hawaii. If you choose to attain training through beauty school, you will need to clock at least 1800 hours of training.

Cosmetology programs in Hawaii will teach you how to excel in all aspects of your career as a cosmetologist—from design, cutting, and coloring, to multicultural hair techniques, fashion trends, and business ethics.

Most cosmetology programs provide the required 1800 hours of experience through both classroom instruction and practical experience. You will find that courses will cover topics, including but not limited to, the following:

  • Sanitation
  • Quality Customer Service
  • Personal Appearance and Hygiene
  • Personal Motivation and Development
  • Positive Attitudes
  • State Laws and Regulations
  • Salon-Type Administration
  • Job Interviewing
  • Fashion Trends
  • Manicuring
  • Pedicuring
  • Basic Facials

Many programs offer advanced courses, as well, and completing these will give you an edge as a hairstylist. You will be in in the know on the latest hair, makeup, and style trends, which will help you please your clients and give you even further employment opportunities.

Beauty Apprenticeship

If you would like to qualify for licensure through a beauty apprenticeship, rather than the traditional route of attending beauty school, you may do so only if you gain at least 3600 hours of on-the-job training. Two hours of beauty apprenticeship training is only equal to one hour of beauty school.

You may choose to combine both beauty school training and beauty apprenticeship hours, if for some reason you cannot complete all 1800 hours of beauty school. If you plan to do this, remember that two hours of training in a beauty apprenticeship equals only one hour of training in a beauty school. Overall, you will need to provide the Board with documentation of each hour of training, as well as what you studied during each hour.

You can only combine these hours if your beauty school training and on-the-job training occur at separate times, but not if you received on-the-job training while enrolled in beauty school.

Attain License from Another Jurisdiction

If you have a license from another state or jurisdiction and at least one (1) year of experience you would be eligible for cosmetology licensure in Hawaii. If so, you may apply for licensure based on your experience being your qualification.

Otherwise, if you do not have both a license and a year of experience as a beauty operator, you must attain the experience through beauty school or a beauty apprenticeship.



Step 2. Submit a Cosmetologist Beauty Operator License Application

There are two beauty operator forms: the temporary permit and the beauty operator application.

Temporary Permit

If you apply for a one-time, temporary permit, you will be able to work and train under the supervision of a qualified, licensed hairstylist. The purpose of this permit is to allow you to legally work while you are still waiting to take and pass the licensing exam. It will remain active for the duration of three (3) exam periods as scheduled by the Board (about one (1) year).

To be eligible for this permit, you must submit both the temporary permit application and the beauty operator license application, and the license application must be approved before the Board will send your temporary permit.

Once you receive the permit in the mail, you are eligible to work, even if you haven’t taken and passed the licensing exam.

Beauty Operator Application

When you are submitting your beauty operator application, you need to attach the following documents:

  • High school diploma (or equivalent)
  • Beauty school diploma, OR Verification of one (1) year of experience as a licensed beauty operator in another state
  • Beauty school transcripts, including hours and subjects OR Apprenticeship progress report
  • Required $20 application fee
  • Optional $40 permit fee
  • Application for Exam and License

You may mail your application to the Board at either of the following addresses:

Board of Barbering and Cosmetology
DCCA, PVL Licensing Branch
P.O. Box 3469
Honolulu, HI 96801


355 Merchant St. Room 301
Honolulu, HI 96813



Step 3. Take and Pass the Prometric Exam

The Hawaii Board gives the licensure exam through the Prometric testing agency. Exams are schedule three times a year, normally in January, May, and October. You are responsible for meeting the deadlines to take the exams at these times.

After your license application has been submitted and approved, you will be responsible to schedule your exam directly with Prometric. If you try to register for a Prometric exam without Board approval, your scores will be considered invalid. However, if you wait until the Board approves your application, the Board will send you the following three items in the mail to schedule your exam:

  • Letter of Approval by the Board
  • A Prometric Examination Registration form
  • A Cosmetology Exam Candidate Information Brochure

Once you send in the Prometric Exam Registration form and the $90 exam fee, you will receive an admission letter and ticket about ten (10) days before the scheduled exam. This will detail the specifications of time, date, and location for your exam.

The Hawaii Cosmetology exam is a different exam than the hairdresser exam, nail technician exam, or the esthetician exam. You will want to make sure that you register for the correct exam. The cosmetology exam is closed book, 100 questions, and it will last for about two (2) hours. The specific content that the cosmetology exam will cover, but is not limited to, the following:

    • General Concepts
      • Infection Control
      • Salon Ethics and Safety


    • Applied Anatomy
      • Hair and Scalp
      • Skin
      • Nails


    • Physical Services
      • Shampoo and Rinses
      • Scalp and Hair Care
      • Skin, Facials, and Temporary Hair Removal
      • Manicuring and Pedicuring


    • Chemical Services
      • Chemical Relaxing
      • Chemical Waving
      • Hair Coloring
      • Hair Lightening


  • Hair Styling and Shaping
  • State Laws, Rules, and Regulations

About two (2) weeks after the exam, results will be mailed to you. If you have passed the exam, you will receive instructions from Prometric on how to apply for licensure with the Board. However, if you receive a failing grade, you will receive re-examination information.

*The only walk-in testing location is the Oahu location, and walk-ins are only available under certain circumstances, which must be approved by the Board.



Step 4. Apply for Licensure with the Hawaii Board

In order to complete your final application for licensure, you must pass the Prometric exam. Once you pass this exam, you will receive instructions from Prometric on how to submit the final licensure application.

Renew Licensure

You will renew your license on December 31st every two years on odd-numbered years. They MUST be renewed before December 31st, and you may renew online by following the instructions to sign up for an account with the Professional Vocational Licensing Board (MyPVL), logon, and renew your license.

Although the Board does not require continuing education to renew your licensure, it is a good idea to complete continuing education credits in order to stay up-to-date on the latest beauty techniques and trends. In doing this, you will make yourself a more marketable job candidate, be able to please and impress your clients, and find yourself potentially able to earn a higher salary, due to your higher level of education.

Consider your Employment Options

Once you have achieved cosmetologist licensure you will be able to work as a cosmetologist anywhere in Hawaii. Many of the spas and salons throughout Hawaii focus on using natural techniques and products and expanding services to both men and women. Some salons and spas you may consider include:

  • Kai Salon and Day Spa – Honolulu
  • Herbal Spa Sauna and Salon – Honolulu
  • Rainforest Spa –Kauai, Maui, Ho’ola
  • Serenity Spa – Honolulu
  • Kai J Salon and Spa – Honolulu
  • Heaven on Earth Salon and Day Spa – Honolulu

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