How to Become a Cosmetologist in Pennsylvania

How to Become a Cosmetologist in Pennsylvania

The way we perceive people around us has significantly changed and the appearance of others, as well as ours, became very important, because of the standards set by the people from television and fashion.

The desire to reach those standards is increasing among more and more people who are ready to do everything, even to harm their health to make themselves more attractive and beautiful.

However, many of them cannot achieve these on their own and that is the moment when a cosmetologist comes into play.

Job Description

Cosmetologist has to make customers look lovelier by changing hairstyles, nail style or giving them face treatments.

Popular Programs

A good cosmetologist needs to be ardent about meeting customer expectations and successfully fulfill clients’ wishes.

Daily duties of a cosmetologist are versatile, starting from giving recommendations related to the improvement of skin, nails, hair, preparing hair and analyzing hair condition, shampooing, washing and treating hair by curling, cutting, bleaching and dyeing.

Cosmetology Programs in Pennsylvania

If you are eager to meet the desires and needs of your customers and make them satisfied to come back again, it is advisable to finish any kind of offered programs and achieve a license as you will be able to legally work and provide quality work after the finishing of the education.

Pennsylvania law requires that a cosmetology license can be achieved only by those who have at least a 10th-grade education or equivalent, has graduated from an approved cosmetology school in Pennsylvania or has completed an approved apprenticeship program.

A licensed cosmetology training program consists of 1,250 hours of study and the subjects that are covered by it are:

  • Hair design
  • Haircutting
  • Makeup training
  • Texture and coloring
  • Hairstylist training
  • Retail and business training
  • Skincare
  • Safety procedures
  • State laws and regulations

As you will be there with people who are equally eager to become cosmetologists as you are, you can share your experience and get new ideas to form them.

Instructors are well-educated people who will pass their knowledge effectively and hands-on education will allow you to exercise your newly attained abilities.

Some of the top beauty schools in Pennsylvania are:

  • Altoona Beauty School – Altoona
  • The Beauty Institute | Schwarzkopf Professional – Philadelphia
  • The Beauty School – Stroudsburg
  • Chambersburg Beauty School – Chambersburg
  • Divine Crown Academy of Cosmetology – Harrisburg
  • Jolie Hair and Beauty Academy – Wilkes-Barre.

To get a cosmetology license in Pennsylvania, you can choose a Cosmetologist Apprenticeship Program, but you will need to register by submitting an Apprentice Application.

The State Board of Cosmetology requires that your cosmetologist teacher must be licensed and have at least five years of experience.

Furthermore, the salon in which you are doing your apprenticeship must have at least two licensed cosmetologists employed and they must be in the salon at all times while you are completing your apprenticeship

The duration of the apprenticeship is 2,000 hours and eight months minimum.

Cosmetology Exams in Pennsylvania

The State Board also determines the passing of theory and practical tests for cosmetologists to be allowed to get the certificate.

The exams are administered by the testing agency Pearson VUE and you need to complete an application to test with Pearson VUE which is at the same time your application for licensure.

The application needs to be approved and only then you can sit for the theory and practical tests.

Both tests can be done at exam sites located in:

  • Harrisburg
  • Scranton
  • Allentown
  • Plymouth Meeting

The practical exam consists of task that you will be asked to perform on a mannequin, such as:

  • Thermal styling with a curling iron
  • Thermal styling with a flat iron or pressing comb
  • Chemical relaxing
  • Eyebrow tweezing
  • Basic facial
  • Facial skin cleansing
  • Male facial
  • Haircolor highlighting
  • Haircolor retouching
  • Tapered haircut with clippers
  • Tapered haircut with scissors over a comb
  • Layered haircut with a razor
  • Layered haircut with shears
  • Natural hair braiding
  • Permanent wave
  • Hair removal from eyebrow, upper lip, or chin
  • Basic manicure
  • Nail polish application
  • Nail tip application
  • Acrylic nail painting
  • Face, neck, and shoulder manipulations
  • Masque application
  • Makeup application
  • Face and neck shaving
  • Skin analysis

The theory exam includes 110 questions related to:

  • Safety, rules, and regulations: 25%-35%
  • Hair bleaching, coloring, tinting, and lightening:13%-17%
  • Permanent waving: 13%-17%
  • Chemical relaxing and straightening: 13%-17%
  • Haircutting: 8%-12%
  • Trichology: 4%-10%
  • Shampooing and scalp analysis: 4%-8%
  • Styling: 4%-10%
  • Esthetics: 4%-8%
  • Nails: 4%-8%


Once you applied for testing with Pearson VUE, you have automatically applied for your cosmetology license.

The application will be forwarded for approval to the Board if you have successfully done the exams.

While you are waiting for the examination, you can apply for a Temporary License which allows you to work.

That license cannot be renewed.

People, who already have a license, but not in Pennsylvania, can become eligible for licensure in Pennsylvania, but the license needs to be from a state that has a reciprocity agreement.

Almost all the states have this agreement except:

  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • Rhode Island
  • Utah
  • Foreign countries

The conditions for these cosmetologists are to possess a current out-of-state cosmetology license, have two years of experience and have met the minimum required amounts of education.

The proof of all the above-mentioned facts should be provided to the Pennsylvania State Board of Cosmetology, as well as an Application for Licensure via Reciprocity to the Board.

Keeping Your License Current 

Once you get the license, it does not last forever as it expires every two years and must be renewed. All the necessary information about license renewal can be found via Pennsylvania’s Barber and Cosmetology Association.

Average Annual Cosmetologist Salary and Job Prospects in Pennsylvania

Across the state, many jobs may be found in Pennsylvania.

The collected data related to the employment and salaries of various occupations throughout the US states estimates that there will be job growth for future cosmetologists, thus leading to the increasing demand for licensed cosmetologists.

The average annual salary of a cosmetologist in Pennsylvania ranges from $ 24 023 up to $ 27 844.

Annual Salary Range:
Annual Salary by Location:
Location Avg. Annual Salary
Allentown,PA $26,017
Altoona,PA $24,582
Bethlehem,PA $26,017
Doylestown,PA $29,401
Easton,PA $25,975
Erie,PA $24,104
Greensburg, PA $24,862
Harrisburg,PA $25,406
Johnstown,PA $24,102
Lancaster,PA $25,566
Lebanon,PA $25,547
Levittown,PA $29,488
Philadelphia,PA $28,079
Pittsburgh,PA $25,641
Reading,PA $25,806
Scranton,PA $24,086
State College,PA $24,425
Stroudsburg,PA $26,335
West Chester,PA $27,844
Wilkes Barre,PA $24,023
Williamsport,PA $24,857
York,PA $25,451

Regional Salary in Pennsylvania

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ1,480$34,400$16.54$55,650$18,000
Altoona, PA330$30,300$14.57$47,820$15,870
Bloomsburg-Berwick, PA90$34,640$16.65$50,770$16,910
Chambersburg-Waynesboro, PA200$31,670$15.23$50,050$17,160
East Stroudsburg, PA220$32,620$15.68$51,210$17,030
Erie, PA460$31,710$15.24$46,640$16,680
Gettysburg, PA70$33,280$16$50,130$16,960
Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA1,000$34,930$16.79$54,820$17,570
Johnstown, PA240$32,280$15.52$51,550$15,970
Lancaster, PA890$33,770$16.24$54,840$17,470
Lebanon, PA190$32,290$15.53$47,290$16,960
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD10,780$36,820$17.7$56,810$18,830
Pittsburgh, PA4,360$34,700$16.69$62,020$20,040
Reading, PA710$33,860$16.28$54,910$17,660
Scranton--Wilkes-Barre--Hazleton, PA810$32,540$15.64$54,680$17,140
State College, PA230$33,620$16.16$49,750$17,090
Williamsport, PA130$32,620$15.68$51,990$17,040
York-Hanover, PA570$32,600$15.67$47,730$17,070
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists, OCC Code 39-5012, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

USA Cosmetology by State

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