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Hair Schools in Washington

Though you may love doing your own hair and makeup, hairstyling as a profession is a whole other ball game. It requires precision, creativity, and an eye for detail. If you’re passionate about hair and styling, then a career as a hairstylist could be the perfect fit for you. But before you can start working with clients, you’ll need to complete a hairstyling program at a licensed cosmetology school.

In Washington state, there are several options for hairstyling programs, and we’ve put together a long list of options for you to explore. You can choose to attend a traditional brick-and-mortar school or a hybrid online program. Some programs may even offer internships or externships to help you get real-world experience before you start your career.

A career as a hairstylist can be extremely rewarding. You’ll have the opportunity to use your creativity to make people look and feel their best. And since every client is different, you’ll never get bored with your job. If you love being social and enjoy making people happy, then becoming a hairstylist could be the perfect career choice for you.

Hair Schools in Washington State

State Requirements for Hairstylist Licensing in Washington

For those becoming a hairstylist for the first time, you’ll need to meet all of Washington state’s requirements for obtaining a cosmetology license. To do so you must:

  • Be at least 17 years old
  • Pass an approved cosmetology program with a minimum of 1,600 hours of classroom time OR
  • Complete an apprenticeship under the guidance of a licensed cosmetologist for at least 2,000 hours
  • Pass the state’s written and practical exams
  • Pay the $25 state licensing fee

If you’ve already been licensed in another state you can apply for a license through reciprocity.

You can find the application form for a hairstylist license in Washington here.

How Much Do Washington Hair Schools Cost?

On the low end of the cost scale, the tuition at some hair schools in Washington comes in at around $10,000. On the high side, the more expensive programs will run you about $19,000 for tuition. On top of tuition costs, you’ll likely incur some additional expenses for equipment and books, which cost around $2,100 on average.

Required Skills and Classes

If you choose to get your hairdresser license by taking the classroom route, you’ll need to complete a cosmetology program and a full 1,600 hours of coursework. While each program is a bit different, common topics you’ll cover in preparation for the state’s exams include:

  • Haircutting
  • Hair styling
  • Shampooing and rinsing
  • Hair coloring and lightening
  • Waving and curling hair
  • Updos
  • Manicures
  • Hair removal
  • Skincare
  • Makeup
  • Client safety
  • Sanitation
  • Business and marketing

Ultimately, your program will arm you with the knowledge and skills you need to pass the state’s licensing exam and to go on and have a successful career as a hairdresser.

State Licensing Exam

Washington requires hairstylists to pass two licensing exams, a written and a practical exam. The written test is available at the following testing locations:

  • Camas
  • Everett
  • Fife
  • Olympia
  • Pasco
  • Spokane
  • Yakima

The practical exam is available at the following locations:

  • Fife
  • Spokane
  • Yakima

The written exam must be completed within 90 minutes while the practical exam lasts four to five hours.

The practical exam requires candidates to demonstrate the following skills.

  • Client prep and supply set up
  • Thermal curling
  • Haircutting
  • New client work area set up and supply preparation
  • Chemical waving
  • Predisposition and strand test with a simulated product
  • Foil highlighting and virgin application with colored simulated product
  • Hair color retouching
  • Virgin hair relaxer application
  • Blood exposure procedure
  • Eyebrow tweezing and soft wax
  • Manicure and polish application

The written exam covers topics learned in your coursework or while doing your apprenticeship, with 60 percent of questions focusing on hair care and services while the other 40 percent focuses on scientific concepts like anatomy, physiology, and infection control.

A score of 75 is required to pass both exams.

The fee for the practical exam is $114 and the written exam fee is $180.

Washington has two exams that you must pass before earning your license as a cosmetologist which allows you to work as a hairstylist throughout the state. You can apply online via the PSI website. You must take both exams within one year for the scores to be valid.

There is an $86 fee for each exam, and you’ll need to pay the fee again if you fail and decide to retake it.

The written exam is computer-based and you’ll complete a series of multiple choice questions based on the practical and theoretical knowledge learned during your apprenticeship or classroom experience. There is also a series of questions specific to Washington’s laws and regulations for cosmetologists.

The questions fall into five categories:

  • Scientific concepts
  • Hair care
  • Skin care
  • Nail care
  • Laws and regulations

The practical exam requires you to show off your skills in front of an evaluator. You’ll be responsible for all equipment including mannequin heads and supplies. You’ll need to transition between a number of skills, while maintaining proper safety protocols throughout.

  • Client setup and disinfection
  • Dealing with a blood spill
  • Thermal curling
  • Haircutting
  • Blow drying
  • Eyebrow waxing
  • Hair coloring
  • Color patch test
  • Color retouching
  • Hair lightening
  • Chemical relaxing
  • Relaxing retouching
  • Hair foiling
  • Cleanup and disinfection

A score of 75 is required to pass both the written and theory exams. You’ll receive your score immediately upon completing each exam.

You can learn more about the exam, available dates, and scheduling information on the DL Roope website.

How Much Do Hairstylists Make in Washington? 

You can make a nice salary in Washington according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average annual salary for a hairstylist in Washington is $43,590. Hourly, the average pay comes out to $20.96.

Does Washington Have Continuing Education Requirements for Hairstylists? 

The state of Washington does not require cosmetologists or hairdressers to earn continuing education credits to retain their licenses. However, to keep your skills and knowledge sharp, it’s recommended that you do so periodically. Though there are no continuing ed requirements, you will need to renew your license every two years and pay the $55 fee. If you pay late, that fee balloons to $110. You can find the license renewal form here.

Contact Information for Licensing Board

The State of Washington Department of Licensing handles licensing certifications and renewals for hairdressers in the state. If you need to contact them, you can use the information below.

Website: State of Washington Department of Licensing – Cosmetologists
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (360) 664-6626