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How to Become a Licensed Esthetician in Pennsylvania

The State of Pennsylvania is known for many things such as crayons, Hershey’s chocolate, and the Amish. It is also becoming known as a perfect state for the film industry. More and more movies have been filmed in this state recently, such as “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”, “The Dark Knight Rises”, and “The Fault In Our Stars”. The film industry’s growth in this state is creating a higher demand for licensed beauty professionals.

There are several venues that require the work of a licensed esthetician in Pennsylvania such as:

• Spas
• Salons
• Resorts and hotels
• Medical spas
• Dermatology offices
• Film industries

If you are interested in a career as a licensed esthetician in the state of Pennsylvania there are several important steps to be aware of. We’ve outlined each step below in an easy-to-read format.

Esthetician License Requirements and Training Schools in Pennsylvania

Step 1: Complete a State Approved Esthetics Program

The Pennsylvania State Board of Cosmetology requires that esthetics licensure applicants meet the following prerequisites:

  • Be at least 16 years of age
  • Complete a 10th-grade education
  • Complete a 300-hour esthetics training course

You can bypass the 10th-grade education requirement if you are at least 35 years of age.

Your esthetics training program must be divided up as follows:

  • Professional Practices: 40 hours
  • Sciences: 100 hours
  • Facial Treatments: 100 hours
  • Temporary Hair Removal: 10 hours
  • Makeup: 50 hours

Let Esthetician Schooling Connect You With a High Quality Esthetician School in Your Area!

Are you ready to take the next step and begin your career as a well-paid esthetician? Esthetician Schooling has partnered with some of the best esthetician schools in the nation.  Our huge network of nationally recognized esthetician schools will make it easy for you to find the right school and get started training immediately!

The beauty schools in our network contain one or more of the following high quality standards:

  • State Board Recognition
  • NACCAS Accreditation
  • Student Financial Aid
  • Job Placement Assistance for Those Who Qualify

To get started, simply fill out the quick 1-minute application below.


Step 2: Complete and Submit the Application for Examination & Licensure

While the Pennsylvania State Board of Cosmetology maintains the supervision and regulation of those working in the esthetics field, it has contracted with Pearson VUE to administer the National Interstate Council (NIC) written/practical exam. This is a computer based exam consisting of multiple-choice questions.

Once you have met all of the prerequisites listed in Step 1, you will need to complete the Application for Professional Licensure by Examination. Completing and submitting this one application will allow you to apply for both of your exams and your esthetician license at the same time.

Along with your application, you will need to submit the following:

  • Payment for the $10 application fee
  • Payment for the $93 exam fee
  • A 2″ x 2″ head and shoulders color photograph (do not staple your photograph to the application)
  • An official State Police Criminal History Check from every state you have resided in during the past 5 years
  • Proof of age such as your current unexpired driver’s license, valid U.S. passport, or birth certificate
  • Proof of completed high school education such as your high school diploma or GED (only if you are under 35 years of age)
  • Your official school transcripts (must be sent directly from your school, not by you)

Remember, you will need to obtain and submit an official Criminal History Record from the State Police or other state agency for all states in which you have resided over the past five years. Reports must be dated within six months of the date of the application. This requirement became effective September 1, 2016.

Make your check or money order payable to “Pearson Vue” (both the application fee and exam fee can be paid as one payment).

Mail your completed and signed application, required documents, and fee payment to:

Pearson Vue
c/o Dasher, Inc.
P.O. Box 1652
Harrisburg, PA 17105-1652

Within approximately seven business days, you will receive your Examination Approval Letter, also known as an Authorization To Test (ATT) letter. This letter will provide you with detailed instructions on how to schedule your exam through Pearson VUE. This can be done online or via telephone.


Step 3: Take and Pass the Combined Theory/Procedural Skill Exam

The state of Pennsylvania is unique in the sense that, the Board does not require you to take separate written and practical esthetics exams. Instead, you will be taking a combined Theory/Procedural Skill Exam made up of 85 multiple-choice questions.


What to Bring to the Exam

You will need to make sure you bring the following items to your exams:

If you arrive late to the exam site or you do not meet the identification criteria above, you will not be allowed to take the exam. You will be required to reschedule your exam and may be forced to repay the exam fees.


The Theory/Procedural Skill Exam

You will have 1 hour and 15 minutes to complete this multiple-choice exam. There are 85 questions that are scored and 15 that are not scored.

The combined Theory/Procedural Skill Exam will include the following topics and subtopics:

Rules, Regulations, and Safety (30-40%)

A. Safety

  1. Draping
  2. Prevention of salon accidents
  3. First aid/OSHA

B. Sanitation and disinfection

  1. Personal hygiene
  2. Sanitation and disinfection of implements and tools
  3. Single use items
  4. Product application
  5. Sanitation and disinfection of work surfaces

C. Predisposition/Patch Tests
D. Client contact

Esthetic Science and Skin Analysis (15-20%)

A. Skin structure and anatomy
B. Purpose of skin analysis
C. Skin conditions that benefit from services
D. Skin conditions that preclude skin services
E. Skin disorders and diseases

Facials (20-25%)

A. Application, removal, and purpose of products

  1. Lotions and creams
  2. Exfoliants
  3. Masks/packs

B. Tools, implements, materials, and equipment
C. Facial procedures
D. Special considerations

  1. Microdermabrasion
  2. Chemical peel
  3. Disincrustation
  4. Aromatherapy

E. Massage/Anatomy

Hair Removal (16-20%)

A. Tweezing
B. Waxing
C. Tools, implements, materials, and equipment

Makeup (10-15%)

A. Purpose
B. Types of cosmetics
C. Brushes and other implements, tools, and materials
D. Color theory
E. Application and removal procedures
F. Corrective makeup
G. Application and removal of artificial eyelashes

Electricity and Electrotherapy (5-10%)

A. Galvanic current
B. High frequency current
C. Light therapy

After you have completed your exam, Pearson VUE will report your scores to the Pennsylvania State Board of Cosmetology. If you have passed the exam, no further action will be required from you and the State Board will issue you your Pennsylvania esthetician license.


Step 4: Renew Your PA Esthetician License Every Two Years

In order to continue practicing esthetics legally, you will need to renew your Pennsylvania esthetician license every two years. A $35 fee is required. Renewals can be completed online using the Pennsylvania Online Licensing System.


Esthetician License Reciprocity in Pennsylvania

If you have held an esthetician license in another state for at least two years, you may qualify for license reciprocity. First, you will need to make sure that your current esthetician license was not issued from any of the following states:

  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • Rhode Island
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Utah

If your current and active esthetician license was issued from any of the states listed above, you cannot apply for a Pennsylvania esthetician license by reciprocity. You must apply for an initial PA esthetician license and take both the theory and practical exams. You can apply for all three (licensure, written exam, and practical exam) by completing and submitting the Application for Professional Licensure by Examination (refer to “Step 2: Complete and Submit the Application for Examination & Licensure” for more details).

If your current and active esthetician license was not issued by any of the states listed above, then you can apply for a Pennsylvania esthetician license by reciprocity. Your first step will be to meet the following criteria:

  • You have never been issued a Pennsylvania esthetician license in the past
  • You hold a current and active esthetician license in good standing with your state
  • You have at least two (2) years of work experience in a licensed cosmetology salon or spa

If you meet the criteria above, then you can move onto the next step:

  • Download, complete, and sign the Licensure by Reciprocity Application (be sure to complete the attached review form first)
  • Pay the $60 non-refundable processing fee using a personal check or money order made payable to “Commonwealth of Pennsylvania”
  • Request submission of State Certification of your current license, dated within 60 days of receipt of your application (certification must be sent directly from your state’s Cosmetology Board, not by you)

Mail your completed review form (the first page of the application), completed and signed application, and fee payment to:

State Board of Cosmetology
PO Box 2649
Harrisburg, PA 17105-2649

OR, if sending by courier:

State Board of Cosmetology
2601 North Third Street
Harrisburg, PA 17110

Once the State Board has approved and processed your application, they will mail you your Pennsylvania esthetician license.

If you have any questions about the license by reciprocity application process, feel free to call the State Board at 717-783-7130.


Pennsylvania State Board of Cosmetology Contact Information

Pennsylvania State Board of Cosmetology
One Penn Center
2601 N. 3rd Street
Harrisburg, PA 17110
Phone: (717) 783-7130
Fax: (717) 705-5540

Drop-Off Hours: 8:30 am – 4:30 pm (M-F)


Pennsylvania Theory/Procedural Skill Exam Locations

Below is a map showing the locations of the combined Theory/Procedural Skill Exam administered by Pearson Vue. Before you arrive at a Pearson Vue test center, please be sure to call Pearson Vue’s customer service line at 1-800-274-2021 to confirm the test center’s current address and inquire about their hours of operation.


Map of Written and Practical Exam Locations in Pennsylvania

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