Requirements for a Cosmetology License in California

/Requirements for a Cosmetology License in California
Requirements for a Cosmetology License in California 2017-09-25T23:16:05+00:00

To receive a cosmetology license in California or a license in one of the other beauty practitioner disciplines in this state you have to attend a licensed school and complete the minimum required training hours as specified by the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology (BBC) before you can take the state’s board exams. It takes the board approximately 8 weeks to process an examination application.

Minimum required training hours

  • Cosmetologist: 1600 hours for license / 3200 hours for apprenticeship
  • Barber: 1500 hours for license / 3000 hours for apprenticeship
  • Esthetician: 600 hours for license / 1200 hours for apprenticeship
  • Massage Therapist: 250 hours for license / 500 hours for apprenticeship
  • Nail Technician: 400 hours for license

Examinations are already stressful but a lack of information or misinformation only adds unnecessary stress. Therefore, we advise every applicant to read through the helpful hints about the examination provided by the BBC ahead of time and contact the board if you still have questions.

Contact Information California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology

Headquarters Location
Board of Barbering and Cosmetology
2420 Del Paso Road Suite 100
Sacramento, CA 95834
Phone 1-800-952-5210
Fax (916) 575-7281

Office Hours
Monday through Friday, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm excluding State Holidays

By Mail
Board of Barbering and Cosmetology
PO Box 944226
Sacramento, CA 94244-2260




Cosmetology License Renewal

In California, cosmetology licenses must be renewed every two years in odd years by the licensee’s original licensing date. The costs are $50 for the renewal if paid in time.  So far no continuing education is required to renew your cosmetology license. The BBC offers two renewal options: A) automated system using a paper form (takes 6 to 8 weeks) or B) online (takes 15 to 20 days).

Out-of-state license

An out-of-state license does not automatically qualify you for a cosmetology license in California. But you may qualify for what is called “reciprocity”, by meeting the following criteria:

(a) A completed “reciprocity” application form and all fees required by the California Board.
(b) Proof of a current license issued by another state to practice that meets all of the following requirements:

(1) It is not revoked, suspended, or otherwise restricted.
(2) It is in good standing.
(3) It has been active for three of the last five years, during which time the applicant has not been subject to disciplinary action or a criminal conviction.

For further information read the board’s general FAQs or contact the BBC.

Disclaimer: We don’t guarantee the accuracy of the above information. Ultimately the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology determines license requirements and will provide you with all needed information. We are not affiliated with the Board in any way. The information on this page was last updated on 9/25/2017.