Esthetician Schools in District of Columbia

If you want to be an esthetician in Washington, DC, you've come to the right place to learn how. This is true even if you work in nearby Maryland or Virginia, and want to move into the city, as those states require different licensure.

Browse our directory of esthetician schools in District of Columbia, or skip ahead to learn about the state's esthetician licensing requirements and job outlook.

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How to Become a Esthetician in District of Columbia

District of Columbia Esthetician Careers At a Glance
  • 600 education hours are required to become licensed.
  • You must renew your license every 2 years.
  • 6 continuing education hours are required to renew your license.
  • Average salary for estheticians in Washington DC is $62,470.
  • There is a predicted 85% job increase between 2020-2030 for estheticians in DC.

To become an esthetician in Washington, DC, you must take 600 training hours, pass two tests, pay fees, and more. Specifically, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Have at least a 10th-grade education.
  • Pass the NIC esthetician written and practical exams.
  • Complete at least 600 training hours in a Washington, DC, esthetician school.
  • Submit a completed application.
  • Pay the required fees.

In DC, all estheticians are classified as specialty cosmetology operators. Three licenses are available: Esthetician operator, master esthetician manager, and master esthetician instructor.

You can only become a Master once you've gained your Operator license. Similarly, you can only become an instructor once you have your Master license.

What to Expect from an Esthetician Program in Washington, DC

600 Education Hours

Required to earn a esthetics license

You need 600 training hours at a board-approved esthetician school to get your license in DC. The topics vary from school to school, but they all must cover these subjects:

  • Advanced topics and procedures
  • Introductory chemistry and cosmetic ingredients
  • Electricity and facial machines
  • Facial massage
  • Facials
  • Hair and its growth cycle
  • Hair removal
  • Histology
  • Infection control
  • Makeup
  • Physiology and anatomy
  • Scope of practice and regulatory rules
  • Skin diseases and disorders

Schools have to be licensed by the District of Columbia Educational Licensure Commission. Officials visit schools regularly to see if they're following licensure rules. They have requirements for sanitation, classroom space, staff numbers, equipment, facilities, and more. If they fail to meet the strict standards, they lose their licenses and can no longer teach.

Can I Apprentice as an Esthetician in Washington, DC?

No, you cannot get an esthetician's license in Washington, DC, via apprenticeship. This goes for all other specialty operator licenses, too. But you can get a cosmetologist or barber license through an apprenticeship.

Washington, DC Esthetician Licensing Requirements

To gain your Washington, DC, esthetician license, you need to pass the National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology (NIC) written and practical exams.

Written examination

The written (theory) exam is administered by PSI Exams. When you finish esthetician school training, you get an authorization letter by mail. It contains instructions for scheduling your exam, which you can do by phone or online.

Exams are held at this location regularly throughout the year:

Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
Occupational and Professional Licensing Administration
1100 4th Street, SW
Suite E 500
Washington DC 20024

On the day of your written theory exam, arrive at least 30 minutes early and bring a valid government-issued photo ID. You have 90 minutes to complete the 110-question exam. One hundred of the questions are weighted and contribute to your final score. The exam covers these topics:


  • Microbiology
  • Infection control
  • Safety procedures and guidelines
  • Human physiology and anatomy
  • Skin histology and physiology
  • Skin disorders and diseases
  • Function and composition of the hair
  • Basic chemistry


  • Performing client consultation and documentation
  • Client protection
  • Skin analysis
  • Contraindications for skin services
  • Treatment protocol
  • Cleansing
  • Steaming
  • Exfoliation
  • Massage
  • Extraction
  • Masks
  • Conclusion of facial services
  • Electrical equipment in skin services
  • Makeup
  • Other services

You need 70% to pass the exam, and you get your results as soon as you finish. If you do not pass, you can retake the exam.

Practical examination

On the day of your practical exam, arrive at least 30 minutes early with supplies labeled in English. Like the written exam, the practical exam is split into several subject areas. These are:

  • Work Area Preparation and Set Up of Supplies for Client 1: 10 minutes
  • Client Preparation and Basic Facial: 25 minutes
  • Work Area Preparation for New Client and Set Up of Supplies for Client 2: 10 minutes
  • New Client Prep and Eyebrow Hair Removal with Simulated Soft Wax and Tweezing: 5-minute set-up, Untimed procedure
  • Facial Makeup: 20 minutes
  • Blood Exposure Procedure: 10 minutes
  • Particle Microdermabrasion on the Forehead on Client 2: 10 minutes
  • Eyelash Enhancement Performed on Client 2: 10 minutes
  • Hair Removal of the Upper Lip Using Hard Wax on Client 2: 10 minutes

As with the written exam, you need a score of at least 70% to pass. If you fail any part of the practical exam, you can retake just that part and retain credit for the parts you passed.

The exams are held regularly, and you have up to five exam cycles to do so. If you do not retake the parts you failed within those cycles, you need to retake the entire exam.

Exam Accommodations

The written exam can be taken in English, Spanish, Korean, or Vietnamese. If you need accommodations to complete your test, you can submit a request to PSI when you book your test.

Washington, DC Esthetician License Reciprocity

If you have an esthetics license in a different state, you may be able to transfer it to DC via reciprocity. To do this, you must:

  • Submit a letter from your state board showing your esthetician education meets DC's requirements.
  • Show you passed the written and practical esthetics exams.
  • Prove you have not been disciplined or disqualified from working as an esthetician.

You may also be asked to attend a reciprocity interview with the Board.

Esthetician Specialties in Washington, DC

If you want to take your career to the next level, you can become a master esthetician manager. You must take 600 hours in advanced esthetics, medical esthetics, and business at an approved program and get at least 75% on exams.

You can then become a master esthetician instructor. To do this, you need to work as a master esthetician manager in a salon or barbershop for at least six months. You must also complete 1,000 hours in an approved program and pass exams with a minimum score of 75%.

Esthetician License Renewal in Washington, DC

2 Years

License renewal period

6 Hours

Continuing education required

In Washington, DC, you need to renew your esthetician operator license every two years. Licenses expire on April 15th of each even-numbered year.

You must complete at least six hours of continuing education courses to be eligible. Two hours must cover health, safety, and welfare. The other four hours can be on any relevant topic that interests you, so long as the Board approves the course.

A typical renewal costs $110. If you submit your renewal late, you must pay an extra $50 fee. If you let your license lapse and it becomes inactive, it costs $110 to reinstate it.

Esthetician Salary and Projected Job Growth in Washington, DC


Average yearly salary for esthetics in District of Columbia

Washington, DC, is the highest-paying area for estheticians in the United States!

The average (mean) annual salary for estheticians in Washington, DC, is $62,470 per year, or $30.03 per hour. This is almost double the national average of $41,700 per year, or $20.05 per hour.

Median wages range from $46,550 or less per year to $120,800 or more. How much you may earn depends on your location, experience, treatments, and more.

In addition to being the best-paid area for estheticians, DC has a much better job outlook than the rest of the US. The number of esthetician jobs in DC should grow by an overwhelming 85% from 2020 to 2030. The national expectation is only 17%

Contact the District of Columbia State Board of Esthetics

Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs

Resources for Estheticians in Washington, DC

American Association of Cosmetology Schools
This DC-based nonprofit has information about teaching, industry events, and laws.

Personal Care Products Council
This leading national trade association is based in Washington, DC. It's the voice on scientific, legal, regulatory, legislative, and international skincare industry issues.

Esthetics/Skin Care
District of Columbia

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