How to Become a Cosmetologist in Washington

How to Become a Cosmetologist in Washington

The path you need to take as to become a cosmetologist is not too demanding, but it still requires some sort of education and qualifications.

The personal qualities that you need to possess to be wanted and frequently visited by the clients are numerous and they include highly developed listening and understanding skills, patience and physical stamina.

Job Description

Cosmetologists work with hair, nails, and skin.

They provide customers with cutting, shampooing, coloring, permanent waving of the hair, apply make-up and facials, remove body hair or style their nails.

Popular Programs

The equipment they frequently use are scissors, clippers, curlers, irons, and since they work with chemicals, aprons and gloves are also part of their uniform.

To successfully do the daily duties that this job involves, you need to be a talented, creative and passionate person.

Cosmetology Programs in Washington

What would be the requirements for achieving the cosmetology license depends on the state you live in, as each state has an organization which determines the rules and organizes examination.

In Washington, the licensing of the cosmetologist is organized by the Washington State Department of Licensing, the agency that approves two ways of becoming a certified cosmetologist.

You can either graduate from a Washington State-licensed cosmetology school after you finish 1,600 hours of instruction and education or you can enter a Washington-approved cosmetology apprentice and finish 2,000 hours.

Both paths must include the same subjects that you need to focus on and master during the training to be able to pass the examination and those are:

  • Cosmetology business practices
  • Shampooing, including draping, conditioning, and rinsing
  • A minimum of 100 hours in manicures and pedicures
  • Hair and scalp analysis
  • Methods of hair cutting and hair trimming
  • A minimum of 100 hours in esthetics
  • Hairstyling, including braiding, styling aids, thermal, and wet styling
  • Trimming and cutting of facial hair, including eyebrows, beard, and other facial hair
  • Artificial hair
  • Perms
  • Hair coloring, lightening, and bleaching
  • Chemical relaxing
  • Sanitizing and disinfecting
  • Diseases and disorders cosmetologists should watch out for
  • Chemical storage and electronics safety
  • First aid and emergency procedures

Future cosmetology students can enroll in programs offered by some of the following schools and colleges in Washington:

  • The Beauty Institute | Schwarzkopf Professional – Bellingham
  • BJ’s Beauty & Barber College – Tacoma
  • Evergreen Beauty College – Bellevue
  • Gene Juarez Academy – Seattle
  • Glen Dow Academy of Hair Design – Spokane
  • Parōba College – Everett
  • Paul Mitchell School – Spokane.

Your instructor’s obligation will be to send a Registration Form to the Department of Licensing in Olympia.

Cosmetology Exams in Washington

The graduation is not enough qualification for the license in Washington.

The accredited schools and apprentice programs make you eligible to take the Written Cosmetology Exam and Practical Cosmetology Exam, which are in charge of the National Testing Network (NTN)/Ergonomics.

Using all the necessary information that your school or apprentice program provides you with, you should register online with NTN and start studying for the test by reading the NTN’s Washington Cosmetologist Exam Preparation Guide.

Written Cosmetology Examination is 90 minutes long and you are supposed to answer multiple-choice questions on a computer.

The questions focus on subjects learned during the education program, such as:

  • Haircare and services – 60 percent
  • Scientific concepts – 40 percent.

The written exam can be done in various testing centers in:

  • Vancouver
  • Olympia
  • Everett
  • Spokane
  • Wenatchee
  • Pasco
  • Yakima

The practical exam is done on a mannequin head in front of an evaluator who measures the given time limit and evaluates your work and it is available in Spokane and Fife, near Tacoma.

The tested skills are:

  • Client protection and set up – 10 minutes
  • Thermal curling – 10 minutes
  • Haircutting – 30 minutes
  • Chemical waving – 20 minutes
  • Virgin hair lightening, hair relaxing, and retouch – 10 minutes, 10 minutes, and 20 minutes, respectively
  • Facial – 10 minutes
  • Manicure – 20 minutes


The Washington state residents can apply for the license with NTN directly upon graduation.

If the exams are successfully passed, NTN sends scores to the Washington State Department of Licensing.

Your license will be issued once you pay the licensing fee through your online NTN account.

If you have already achieved a license in another state, you will need to fill out a Reciprocity Application and send a proof of your out-of-state license to the Washington State Department of Licensing.

In the application form, it is important to check the appropriate box:

  • If you have passed both examinations, you should check the box titled Reciprocity
  • If you have not passed them, then the checked box should be Out of State.

For the entry-level cosmetologist, this might not be of great importance, as they will need to spend some time working for somebody else to get into the business, but those more experienced ones who want to open their salon should know that a special type of license is necessary.

It covers:

  • Salons and beauty shops
  • Personal services
  • Mobile unit

This is named a Salon/Shop, Personal Services, or Mobile Unit License and to apply for it you should collect the following documents:

For all kinds of application, all the documentation should be sent to:

Cosmetology Program
Department of Licensing
PO Box 3856
Seattle, WA 98124-3856

Keeping Your License Current 

Licensed cosmetologists need to renew their licenses every two years before its expiration date, and it is done by submitting a Renewal Application.

Continuous education is not compulsory even though many people eager to advance even more visit seminars and enroll in various courses.

Average Annual Cosmetologist Salary and Job Prospects in Washington

Certified cosmetologists are in constant demand and should not worry about finding a job.

Opportunities can be found in some of Washington’s top salons:

After you gain experience, you can open your establishment and schedule your time as you wish.

Spas, salons, and resorts are always looking for a cosmetologist who will provide excellent services, and they offer a decent salary, and Washington is one of the states where the average annual salary is quite high.

Annual Salary Range:
Annual Salary by Location:
Location Avg. Annual Salary
Auburn,WA $27,820
Bellevue,WA $28,636
Bellingham,WA $26,643
Bremerton,WA $28,183
Everett,WA $27,922
Federal Way,WA $27,820
Kennewick,WA $26,095
Kent,WA $27,764
Lacey,WA $26,857
Lakewood,WA $27,820
Marysville,WA $27,922
Olympia,WA $26,857
Pasco,WA $25,867
Renton,WA $28,608
Richland,WA $25,931
Seattle,WA $28,636
Spokane,WA $25,887
Tacoma,WA $27,820
Vancouver,WA $27,205
Yakima,WA $25,861

Regional Salary in Washington

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Bellingham, WA150$44,740$21.51$58,360$32,190
Bremerton-Silverdale, WA220$46,070$22.15$59,210$31,070
Kennewick-Richland, WA240$45,420$21.84$59,030$32,960
Longview, WA100$41,780$20.09$53,390$31,070
Olympia-Tumwater, WA270$46,520$22.36$60,020$35,870
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA4,220$49,780$23.93$72,680$35,660
Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA540$45,470$21.86$58,320$31,070
Yakima, WA70$41,120$19.77$51,240$30,720
* 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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