Washington Barber License & Training Requirements

Become a Grooming Guru as a Washington Barber

Just a few decades ago, Northwest style was synonymous with grunge. Today Washington is onboard the national trend toward classic cuts and traditional barbering. Whether you see yourself working in a laid-back shop like The Scotch Pine in Seattle or providing cutting-edge cuts at popular Gandy’s Barber Shop in Lynnwood, the national boom in demand for barbers projected through 2026 makes it a great time to earn your Washington barber’s license.  

Learning the techniques and skills required to master today’s barbershop styles and services starts with finding a licensed barber or cosmetology school. There, you can earn the 1,000 or more credit hours required by the Washington State Department of Licensing. The department’s Cosmetology, Barbering, Esthetics, and Manicuring Advisory Board oversees licensing in the state and will issue yours upon successful completion of your theory and practical barber exams.

Washington Barbering School and Apprenticeship Training Options

In addition to requiring a specific number of training hours, the Advisory Board specifies your training should involve mannequins sparingly — no more than 25 percent of your overall hours. Subject-wise, your required barbering coursework includes these mandated topics:

  • Theory and practice of barbering
  • Barbering business practices
  • Shampooing, conditioning, and rinsing
  • Draping, brushing, scalp manipulations
  • Cutting and trimming of facial hair
  • Beard, mustache, and eyebrow design
  • Artificial hair
  • Sanitation, disinfection, and sterilizations
  • Diseases and disorders of the skin, scalp, and hair
  • Safety and proper use of implements

Barbering Apprenticeships

The Board offers an apprenticeship alternative to pursuing your Washington barber’s license. To meet the requirements, an apprentice candidate must be directly supervised by a licensed barber in a licensed barbershop for a total of 1,200 hours. The supervisor will be required to submit the Board’s salon shop data sheet to document all training. Once the board receives this documentation you will be eligible to take your barbering exams and apply for your Washington barber’s license.

Submitting your Washington Barber License Application

The application and testing process for Washington barber students is administered by D.L. Roope Administrations. The company’s Washington application information page includes links to both the online application and upcoming exam dates to help with scheduling your exams.

The site also links to a Washington barber handbook that offers helpful information for the hands-on practical exam. For the theory exam, you can download the Candidate Information Bulletin for a comprehensive study outline. Reviewing both of these resources will help you pass the actual exams.  

Written Exam

You will have 90 minutes to complete your online, multiple-choice written exam. It will cover the theory subjects you reviewed in the study guide, as well as Washington state barbering laws. Topics you’ll be tested on include:

  • Infection control and safe practices
  • Tools, implements, and equipment
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Hair care services
  • Client consultation
  • Shaving services
  • Draping procedures
  • Facial hair design
  • Haircutting and styling
  • Chemistry related to products

Practical Exam

Refer to the Washington barber handbook for guidelines on the supply kit and mannequin to bring with you to your practical exam. You will have two hours to complete these sections:

  • Setup and client protection
  • Shaving with a straight razor
  • Haircutting

Both tests are offered at:

  • Fife, Washington
  • Spokane, Washington
  • Yakima, Washington

Written-only testing locations include:

  • Olympia, Washington
  • Camas, Washington
  • Pasco, Washington
  • Everett, Washington

You will need a score of 75 percent or better on both exams to qualify for your barber license. The test vendor recommends checking their website for scores, which will be posted as soon as they’re available from the National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology.

Once your scores are posted and meet the requirements for licensing, you can log in to the test vendor’s  Washington candidate portal to print your result letter (step 1) and apply for your license (step 2).

Requirements for Renewing Your Washington Barber License

Your license will need to be renewed every two years; you can renew up to 120 before your expiration date. There are fees for letting your license expire and for working without a license, so be sure your contact information is current with the Washington  Board.

To renew online, visit the Washington State Board of Licensing’s licensing renewal page. To mail your renewal, download and print the Board’s license renewal form.   

If you choose this method, you may mail your renewal materials to the Board at the following address:

Cosmetology Program
Department of Licensing
PO Box 3856
Seattle, WA 98124-3856

While you won’t need continuing education credits to renew your Washington barber license, periodically updating your skills is a great way to introduce new services to your clients and attract new ones that will quickly build your client list.

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