How to Get a Nail Technician License in Washington

If you would like to work in the state of Washington as a manicurist or pedicurist, you must obtain a nail technician license. This will allow you to pursue a rewarding career in the beauty industry where you can earn an annual salary of $19,220 according to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Moreover, the BLS expects employment opportunities for nail technicians to grow by 16% through 2022.

How To Get A Nail Technician License In Washington

In order to earn a license, you must undergo training by enrolling in a licensed beauty school. Make sure that the school that you choose offers nail technician programs. The school should also have accreditation from bodies such as the National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences (NACCAS), the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), and the American Association of Cosmetology Schools (AACS). The school you choose should have received approval to offer training from bodies such as the Washington State Department of Health and Workforce Training and Education Coordination Board. This is to ensure you graduate with credentials that employers can trust.

Requirements for enrolling in such programs vary from one school to the next. However, applicants must have a high school diploma or its equivalent. One must also be at least 16 years old. Inquire from the school of your choice if you have any queries about minimum requirements for enrolling.

Training equips students with the skills that they need to work in the beauty industry. Some of the course topics that students cover include artificial and natural nail care, infection control and hygiene, nail wraps, anatomy and physiology of nails, nail extensions, polishing and nail art, salon safety and management, nail and skin disorders, client consultation, and business practices.

According to the Washington Board of Cosmetology, nail technician students must complete a minimum of 600 hours learning. After training, one must take and pass an examination issued by the state’s cosmetology board. If you have completed 800 hours of internship, you can also take this exam. Take note that this exam is available in a number of foreign languages making it easy for non-English speakers to get nail technician licensure. Students who pass this exam receive licenses and can practice anywhere in the State of Washington.

Nail Technician License Renewal

Nail technicians in Washington must renew their licenses after two years. The renewal fee is $55, and it is payable to the Department of Licensing. If you apply for license renewal online, you can pay with MasterCard, Visa, or American Express. The Department of Licensing does not accept gift cards. Online renewal is more convenient because it takes only 14 days to get a new license. In comparison, renewal by mail could take up to 90 days before you can get a new license.

The renewal fee for late applicants is $110. However, you should never delay your license renewal for more than a year. The Washington Board of Cosmetology will cancel it and you will have to re apply and take re take the state’s nail technician exam. In addition, practicing with an expired license is illegal and you could pay a fine of up to $1,000 for breaking the law.

Reciprocity Program

If you have trained and earned licensure in another state, you do not have to go back to school in order to practice in Washington. All you have to do is transfer your existing license to Washington under the Cosmetology License Reciprocity program. Nevertheless, you must have a valid and current license that allows you to practice in your home state. If you meet this requirement, make an application to the Washington state board of cosmetology and pay a transfer fee of $50.

In summary, in order to earn a license to practice as a nail technician in Washington, you must fulfill certain requirements key among them being training. In other words, you must enroll in a licensed learning institution that has received accreditation from bodies such as AACS, SACS, and NACCAS, complete 600 hours of training and finally take an exam approved by the local department of licensing. If you pass this exam, you will get a nail technician license.

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Danielle
Danielle
2 years ago

Are you able to transfer your qualification if you are from another country? I am licensed in my country and have the New Zealand Certificate in Nail Technology Level 4.

Hope Jose-Day
Hope Jose-Day
5 months ago
Reply to  Danielle

i have the same question. i will have my nail technician certificate from mexico. is taking and passing the test enough?

Jessica Delaray
Jessica Delaray
2 years ago

This is a good article. But I would like to have known if WA state allows for online training courses.

Frank - Beauty College Ambassador
Admin
Frank - Beauty College Ambassador
2 years ago

Washington State does allow for online training courses, but individual programs may need additional approvals. Right now, due to the COVID-19 Crisis, there are a number of schools offering part of the program through Distance Education/Online on temporary basis. You may want to reach out to find out more. If you are interested, contact Evergreen Beauty College and they may be able to assist.

Elvira
Elvira
1 year ago

If I have a certificate from other countries can I just pass Wa Board of Cosmetology exam and get my WA License ??? Thanks

Alana Martinez
Alana Martinez
1 year ago
Reply to  Elvira

Not internationally. Only other states in the U.S.A. not other country

Alana Martinez
Alana Martinez
1 year ago

I hold a vaild wa state cosmetology license. I went school for 2 years. Do i need an additional license to do nail extensions? We did not do extensions in school but i did complete nail anatomy sanitation gel nail application mani and pedicures. Basically everything but extensions in addition to hair and skin. My husband died 2 weeks after i walked and took my test for state exam. I passed and ive held it since i renew it every 2 years. I became a heroin addict after he died and i just now got completed rehab and i want to start looking for work. I love hair but its too expensive to rent a booth right now i was thinking i could just do nails bc the overhead is not as high.

Frank - Beauty College Ambassador
Admin
Frank - Beauty College Ambassador
1 year ago
Reply to  Alana Martinez

Alana, it depends on the state that you reside in. In Washington State, both natural nails and extensions are within the scope of Cosmetologist so that would be within your scope. Its important to note that it is natural nails and artificial / nail enhancements are not included.

Alana Martinez
Alana Martinez
1 year ago

Thank you for your reply. Yes i do live in Spokane WA. Should I take a nail tech course to learn extensions or would self taught be acceptable. I am very well trained on gelish and cnd manicures

Cheyenne Chavez
Cheyenne Chavez
1 year ago

I already have a cosmetology license, but would like to do nails in a nail salon or from a home salon. Would I need a nail tech license as well?

Frank - Beauty College Ambassador
Admin
Frank - Beauty College Ambassador
1 year ago

Cheyenne, it depends on the state that you are licensed in and what is within your scope of practice. If you were in Washington State, the natural nails is within the scope of a Cosmetologist, however Nail Enhancements are not. I would recommend you reaching out to your state regulator.

Aby Aguilar
Aby Aguilar
1 year ago

Does a GED works to get my license?

Frank - Beauty College Ambassador
Admin
Frank - Beauty College Ambassador
1 year ago
Reply to  Aby Aguilar

Aby, for most states, a GED meets the High-School Equivalency requirement.

Aby Aguilar
Aby Aguilar
1 year ago

I live in Washington state, do I qualify?

Sandra
Sandra
1 year ago

How do you provide proof of an internship? And do you receive an internship through a current license holder or what?

Lisa
Lisa
7 months ago
Reply to  Sandra

I am wondering this same thing.

Tina
Tina
6 months ago

California passed a law that techs only red to complete their hours and the theory exam. No practical is this true for Washington as well

Frank - Beauty College Ambassador
Admin
Frank - Beauty College Ambassador
6 months ago
Reply to  Tina

Tina, at this time Washington continues to offer both a practical and written exam.

francheska vazquez
francheska vazquez
6 months ago

my diploma is from Puerto Rico, do I need from WA to became an employee of any salon I apply?

JIkes
JIkes
5 months ago

Can you just test out ?

Frank - Beauty College Ambassador
Admin
Frank - Beauty College Ambassador
5 months ago
Reply to  JIkes

JIkes, you would need to test for both the written and practical in most states, after completing the required training. However, it would be best to reach out directly with your state regulatory agency.

Mari
Mari
4 months ago

For gel manicures on natural nails, do I need to be certified as a manicurist and pass the exam?

Yuri
Yuri
1 month ago

Hi, I am licensed in Or as a Nail Tech (independent and Freelance) am seeking reciprocity in Wa. I have sent Affidavit of licensure and application for reciprocity, do I need anything else to practice in Wa? the application didn’t ask for proof of insurance but after reading though Wa Law I’m confused. I would appreciate help

Frank - Beauty College Ambassador
Admin
Frank - Beauty College Ambassador
1 month ago
Reply to  Yuri

Yuri, the best thing would be to reach out directly with the Department of Licensing Cosmetology Board. Here is the link to their contact information: https://www.dol.wa.gov/business/cosmetology/contact.html

Yuri
Yuri
1 month ago

Thank you so much