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How to Become a Licensed Esthetician in the District of Columbia

As our nation’s capitol, Washington D.C. is an exciting place to work in the beauty industry. As an esthetician in this area, you have the opportunity to help people from all different walks of life look and feel their best. Licensed estheticians are usually needed in:

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

Some are even needed in political venues and offices. If a career as a licensed esthetician in Washington D.C. sounds like an exciting one, keep reading to find out what you must do to practice esthetics in the District of Columbia.

Esthetician License Requirements and Training Schools in the District of Columbia

Step 1: Complete a State Approved Esthetics Program

There are two classes of estheticians in the District of Columbia, Basic Estheticians and Master Estheticians.


Basic Esthetician

A Basic Esthetician is an individual that is licensed to perform the following procedures on a client’s head, face, neck, torso, arms, legs, feet, eyebrows, or eyelashes:

  • Cleansing, massaging, and stimulating the skin with oils, clays, masks, antiseptics, and waxes, tweezing, manual extraction, or depilatories.
  • Chemical exfoliation
  • Any other preparations or procedures using the hands, a heat lamp, or a high frequency or galvanic electrical machine or apparatus for cosmetic purposes only

In order to qualify to take the Basic Esthetician examination, you are required to document that you have completed a minimum of 600 hours of esthetician training at a licensed school in the following subjects:

  • Infection control
  • Physiology and anatomy
  • Skin histology
  • Skin diseases and disorders
  • Hair and its growth cycle
  • Basic chemistry and cosmetic ingredients
  • Basic facials
  • Facial massage
  • Electricity and facial machines
  • Methods of hair removal
  • Makeup application and color theory
  • Advanced topics and treatments
  • Scope of practice and regulatory rules


Master Esthetician

A Master Esthetician is an individual that is licensed to practice master-level esthetics as an esthetician manager. In addition to the procedures above, a Master Esthetician may also perform:

  • Body wraps
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Microdermabrasion
  • Advanced extraction using a lancet
  • Lymphatic massage

A Master Esthetician may also perform any of the above procedures for non-cosmetic purposes as well, as long as they are carried out under the supervision of a licensed healthcare practitioner.

In order to be eligible to sit for the Master Esthetician Manager examination, you are required to document that you have completed a minimum of 600 hours of master esthetician manager training at a licensed school in the following subjects:

Advanced Sciences

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Skin histology
  • Chemistry and biochemistry
  • Skin analysis (classification systems)
  • Cosmetic ingredients (health, lifestyle, and nutrition)
  • Physics (advanced modalities)


  • Advanced facials
  • Advanced facial massage
  • Advanced body treatments
  • Advanced makeup
  • Advanced makeup machines


  • Surgical procedures
  • Plastic surgery procedures
  • Pre- and post-operative care

Non-Surgical Procedures

  • Medical terminology and intervention


  • Business plan
  • Marketing
  • Business operations
  • Industry relations
  • Compliance and safety

Once you have completed a master esthetician program, you will be required to take and pass the national advanced esthetician examination and apply for a master esthetician manager license.

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 Esthetician Application for Examination

The Washington D.C. Board of Barber and Cosmetology oversees licensure for estheticians.

In order to take the theory and practical esthetician exams to be licensed to practice in the District of Columbia, you must:

  1. Be at least 17 years of age
  2. Have completed the 10th grade or higher.
  3. Not have been convicted of a crime or moral turpitude which bears on your fitness to be licensed.
  4. Submit two passport-type photos of your face, 2” x 2” in size, with your name printed on the back. Selfies, home snapshots, and computer photographs are not allowed.
  5. Submit a complete and notarized application, including the required supporting documents and total fees.
  6. Submit your esthetician/cosmetology school transcripts with the school’s seal affixed. The transcripts must be in a sealed envelope and verify successful completion of the required 600 hours of esthetician training; OR
  7. Submit a Letter of Certification/Verification of Licensure from current licensing jurisdiction. The letter must be in a sealed envelope, verifying that you have successfully completed National Examination (Endorsement applicants).

Once you have fulfilled the above requirements, you will need to complete a New License Application as well as an examination scheduling form. The testing fee of $230.00 (subject to change) must be submitted with your application for testing. The fee should be made out to Pearson VUE and can be mailed along with your forms to:

Department DC-BC
Metroplex I
Suite 250
8401 Corporate Drive
Landover, MD 20785

If you are approved to take the exams, you will receive an Authorization To Test (ATT) notice from the Board which will provide instructions on how to schedule your examination. You will need to schedule and take your exam within 30 days of receiving your ATT notice.

If you must reschedule your exam for any reason, the re-examination fee is $120.00 (subject to change).


Registering and Scheduling Your Exams

It is your responsibility to schedule your own exam. You can schedule the exam online by going here and doing the following:

  1. Select “Government/State Licensing Agencies” from the Select Organization drop-down menu.
  2. Select “District of Columbia” from the Jurisdiction drop down menu.
  3. Select “DC Cosmetology” from the Select Account drop down menu.
  4. Click the “DC Esthetician Theory Examination – English” link in the Classification menu.
  5. After the webpage loads, click the “Sign In or Create an Account” button and either sign in or create a new account.
  6. Follow the instructions that are given to you.

You also have the option of scheduling your exam over the phone by calling a PSI representative toll-free at 1-800-733-9267 (Monday through Friday from 7:30 AM to 8:00 PM EST and Saturday from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM EST).

You can also schedule your exam using PSI’s Interactive Voice Response System during non business hours at 1-800-733-

If you must reschedule your exam, you can do so without forfeiting your fee by contacting PSI at least 2 business days prior to your scheduled exam date by calling 1-800-733-9267 and using the automated system.


Step 3: Take and Pass the Written and Practical Esthetician Examinations

The District of Columbia governs esthetician licenses, however, it contracts with PSI to administer the NIC esthetics exams.


Preparing for the Written and Practical Exams

The National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology (NIC) recommends the following reference materials to help you prepare for and pass the written (theory) and practical esthetics exams, which can be purchased at discounted prices on Amazon:

We also recommend that you purchase and study the following books in preparation for your exams:


What to Bring to the Exam

Arrive 30 minutes prior to your scheduled testing time for check-in. You will need to bring one form of identification such as a passport, driver’s license, or government-issued ID card.

The address to the exam site is:

Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
Occupational and Professional Licensing Administration
1100 4th Street SW
Suite E-500
Washington, DC 20024
Metro: Waterfront – Green Line


The Esthetics Theory Exam

The NIC theory exam is a written test that contain questions regarding scientific concepts (55 percent) and skin care and services (45 percent). Topics on the exam include:

  • Human anatomy and physiology
  • Microbiology and infection control
  • Safety guidelines and procedures
  • Body hair composition
  • Client consultation and documentation
  • Cleansing, steaming, and exfoliation procedures
  • Body treatments
  • Hair removal services

You will have 90 minutes to complete the theory exam. You must score a 75% or better in order to pass the exam.

You can review the PSI theory exam Candidate Information Bulletin for more information on how to prepare for the written test.

You will receive your score immediately after the exam before you leave the testing site. After passing the written NIC exam, you will be given instructions on scheduling your practical exam.


The Esthetics Practical Exam

You should bring your admission letter and the proper forms of identification to the practical exam. Plan on arriving 30 minutes early to the testing site just as you did for the written exam.

You are required to bring a mannequin with a table clamp. Each testing candidate is required to bring their own testing supply kit. More info about kit contents and rules can be found on page 14 of the NIC Candidate Information Bulletin.

The practical exam is a timed hands-on skills test that covers several core areas of esthetics:

  • Work Area and Client Preparation, and Set Up of Universal Supplies (First client)
  • Cleansing of the Face with Product
  • Exfoliating the Face with Product, Using Facial Brush, Including Towel Steaming
  • Massaging the Face with Product
  • Work Area and New Client Preparation, and Set Up of Supplies (Second client)
  • Hair Removal of the Eyebrows by Tweezing and Using Simulated Soft Wax
  • Facial Mask and Conclusion of Facial Service
  • Facial Makeup
  • Blood Exposure Procedure

In order to pass the practical exam you must score a 75% or better.


Step 4: Renew Your DC Esthetician License Every Two Years

Estheticians in Washington D.C. need to renew their license on even-numbered years no later than April 15th. Your initial esthetician license is good through the balance of the current cycles.

The board will send you a renewal reminder notice about three months prior to your expiration date. In order to renew, you are required to complete at least six continuing education credits. Two of those credits should be related to health, safety, or welfare. The other four can be on general topics.

You can remain up to date in the esthetics field and have a better chance of advancing your career by completing more continuing education and joining professional associations.


Esthetician License Reciprocity in the District of Columbia

If you are moving to the District of Columbia, they do, in certain circumstances, allow esthetician license by reciprocity.

If you are currently licenced in another state, have passed the NIC exam or another comparable exam, and either have 600 hours of training from an approved school or 6 months of continuous work experience in another state, you can apply for a Washington D.C. esthetician license by endorsement. You will be required to pay a fee and complete the necessary forms for licensure via endorsement.


District of Columbia State Board of Cosmetology Contact Information

Washington D.C. Board of Barber and Cosmetology
Department DC-BC
Metroplex I
Suite 250
8401 Corporate Drive
Landover, MD 20785
Phone: 1-877-374-1155


District of Columbia Written Exam Locations

Below is a map showing the locations of the theory (written) exam administered by PSI Services. Before you arrive at a PSI test center, please be sure to call PSI Services toll-free at 1-800-733-9267 to confirm the test center’s current address and inquire about their hours of operation.


Map of Written Exam Locations in the District of Columbia

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