Cosmetology is a regulated occupation which requires a license in all states. If you’re moving out-of-state, there are two ways to transfer your license. The first is reciprocity, where one state allows you to work under the license of another state. The second is an endorsement, where the new state stamps your license as valid because you have completed an equivalent exam and training hours. While each state has different rules, transferring your license typically means that you don’t have to sit the new state’s licensing exams.
How Reciprocity Works
Some states have a system of reciprocity for cosmetology licensing when one state allows you to work under the license of your home state. So, if you’re licensed in Tennessee but want to work in Mississippi, you’d have to check whether the Mississippi licensing board will recognize a Tennessee license. When states participate in reciprocity, it means they’re satisfied that you’ve completed enough training hours and the exam you took was at least as rigorous as the exam set by the new state’s licensing board. Most times, you won’t have to do additional work experience or sit another licensing exam before switching your cosmetology license to the new state.
How Endorsement Works
Some states, including Colorado and Florida, will license you by endorsement. To qualify, you must hold a current cosmetology license in good standing and, as with reciprocity, the new state must agree that your home state has similar training requirements and board exams. If you meet these criteria, the new state will stamp or endorse your license to say that you can legally practice in the new state. Endorsement generally permits you to bypass the new state’s board examinations.
Applying for Reciprocity or Endorsement
Every state is different. Start by calling the new state’s licensing board and asking whether you qualify for reciprocity/endorsement and what the conditions are. For example, you must have been qualified for at least three of the last five years to qualify for reciprocity in California. Georgia’s rules are stricter, and the state won’t accept transfers from Alabama, California, Washington D.C., Washington, New York or Hawaii. Here, transfer applications are decided on a case-by-case basis. Generally, you’ll fill out an application and provide proof of your licensure and education in your home state. There may be a service fee of, typically, $100 to $250.
If you cannot transfer your license through reciprocity or endorsement, the only option is to sit the new state’s full written and practical exams. You likely can transfer your training hours to the new state, but you must get verification of those hours from your home state’s licensing board – you may need to arrange for an affidavit to be sent from one state board to another. If you don’t meet the training hours for your speciality, such as a nail license transfer, you must get the additional training hours at an approved school. This all takes time, and it’s a good idea to set the wheels in motion before you relocate.