This page provides information for Kentucky license requirements including how to apply for a new license, renew an existing one, reactivate an expired license and Kentucky license reciprocity for when you need to transfer a license to this state or out of state. If available, we provide other useful information such as cosmetology school hours requirements, how to apply for additional license for professions like manicurists, nail technicians, instructors etc. If you did not find the answer you were looking for on this page or if you have questions or issues pertaining to cosmetology, then we recommend you contact the Kentucky Board of Cosmetology.

Kentucky Cosmetology License Verification

If you need to verify a license for a salon or person, then you can do so by visiting the Kentucky Board of Cosmetology license verification website. From there you can search for the person or business and see if there are any disciplinary actions on record. This will allow you to make an informed decision about the person and or business providing your service.

Kentucky License Requirements

For Cosmetologist the requirements are:

  • 1500 Hours
  • 12th Grade Education

Upon completion of the 1500 hours, the individual is eligible to apply for a cosmetology license by submitting the appropriate examination application, which may be obtained by clicking here. You must successfully complete a written and practical examination. For Nail Technician the requirements are:

  • 450 Hours
  • 12th Grade Education

Upon completion of the 450 hour course, the individual is eligible to apply for the nail technician examination. The application should be obtained from the school in which the hours were completed or from the list of Exams. For Esthetician the requirements are:

  • 750 Hours
  • 12th Grade Education

Upon completion of the 750 hour course, the individual is eligible to apply for the esthetics examination. The application should be obtained from the school in which the hours were completed or from the list of Exams. For Apprentice Instructor/Cosmetology Instructor the requirements are:

  • 750 Hours
  • 12th Grade Education

To become an apprentice instructor, you must be a currently licensed cosmetologist, must have been licensed at least one year and must have a 12th grade education or equivalent. An Apprentice Instructor License Application must be completed by the attending school and submitted to KBC with the required fee within 10 days of enrollment.

The process does not require Board approval. If applicant meets requirements, license is issued. One must complete 750 hours as defined in 201 KAR 12:082. Section 15. Upon completion of the 750 hours, may apply for the instructor examination, written and practical.

Kentucky out of State License

All out-of-state applicants must have a certification of license from state board that issued the license.

Cosmetologist Eequirements
  • 1500 Hours
  • 12th Grade Education
Nail Technician Requirements
  • 450 Hours
  • 12th Grade Education
Esthetician Requirements
  • 750 Hours
  • 12th Grade Education
Apprentice Instructor/Instructor Requirements
  • 750 Hours
  • 12th Grade Education

Individuals with hours completed in another state less than 2 years must provide a certification of hours and/or license from the state licensing agency where the hours were obtained. This is to be requested by the applicant from the licensing agency of the state they are transferring from and must be submitted from the transferring state. Certifications cannot be accepted from the applicant. All out-of-state hours must be certified by the State Board or Official Licensing Agency of the state the hours were obtained in. Only hours certified by the state licensing agencies will be accepted. School transcripts will not be accepted.

If the applicant's hours obtained out-of state are equivalent to Kentucky's hourly requirement then the applicant will apply as an Out-of-State Exam applicant. If the applicant does not have enough hours to match Kentucky's hourly requirement the applicant must complete remaining hours required for that license in a school of cosmetology in Kentucky before applying for the licensing exam.

Kentucky will only accept the amount of hours the state you are transferring from requires for licensing. (Example: Florida requires 1250 hours to be licensed as a cosmetologist, that is the maximum amount of hours that we will accept from that state).

Examinations Required: Cosmetology
  • Written and Practical
Nail Technician
  • Written and Practical
  • Written and Practical

Check out the Ketucky Exams section for examination information. Any person who holds an out-of-state license for more than two years but has not worked in their field of licensure (must provide tax documentation of this) will be required to apply for and successfully complete the Out-of-State Examination, written and practical, to obtain licensure in the state of Kentucky.

Any person who holds an out-of-state license for more than two years and can provide proof 2 years of work history (tax documentation) may submit an application for license transfer to be considered by the Kentucky State Board of Hairdessers and Cosmetologists. Approved transfers will not be required to complete an examination for licensure in the state of Kentucky.

Out-of-State License Transfer Application- Required Documentation:
The following documentation must be submitted with your application before it will be evaluated for approval:

  • Copy of Applicant's Driver's License or State Issued ID
  • Proof of work history in the specific licensing field-Minimum of 2 years. Tax documentation must be submitted for this requirement. Transfer of license cannot be approved without this documentation. Applicants with no or insufficient proof of work history will be required to apply for examination.
  • Certification of Professional License. Must be requested by applicant from professional licensing board for that state. Please request all certifications be submitted directly to the Kentucky State Board of Cosmetology. Certifications cannot be accepted from the applicant. (Applicants holding an Indiana license may submit electronic certification from their state licensing agency)
  • Proof of 12th Grade Education- College, High School, or GED transcript or Diploma is Acceptable. Education obtained outside of the United States must be submitted with an offical translation

All requested documentation (except license certification) must be received with the transfer application and fee listed on the application. Applications missing documentation will not be placed for approval. Processing Time for Out-of-State transfer applications received complete and correct in the Board office is 30 days. Please Plan Accordingly.

Kentucky Cosmetology School Hours

Type Requirements
Cosmetologist License 1800 Hours
Barber License 1500 Hours
Nail Technician License 600 Hours
Esthetician License 1000 Hours
Cosmetology Instructor License 1000 Hours + Cosmetology License

Kentucky Examinations

Theory Examinations:

Applicants will first submit an application to register for the theory examination to the board office. Applicants must provide a valid email address in order to schedule the theory examination location, date, and time.

Theory scheduling will be completed by the applicant after applying with the board office. The applicant will be provided a link via email following submission of their application to schedule the specific location, date, and time that is convenient for the applicant. Applicants must pass the theory examination before application and fee for the practical examination may be submitted for scheduling. Theory Candidate Information Bulletins (CIB) list sample questions for each license discipline.

Practical Examinations:

After successful completion of the theory examination, applicants must submit the examination application and fee to be scheduled for the practical examination. Applicants must indicate a testing center location. Applicants will be scheduled for state board examinations as their applications are received in the KBC office. All applications for any month must be in the office ten working days prior to the beginning practical examination date (deadline date), exclusive of Saturday, Sunday, and holidays. Notification of the examination date and time the applicant is to appear for examination will be emailed to the applicant.

  • Applicants must report to the practical examination wearing solid colored, non-white scrubs with no identifying information visible
  • Applicants requiring a mannequin stand for the examination must bring a clamp style mannequin stand with them to the facility, these will no longer be provided
  • Applicants sitting for the Nail Technician examination will need to bring disposable absorbant pads or towels to cover the the work station while providing services to protect the surfaces from the acrylic being used
  • All suggested supplies lists and examination information is listed in the NIC Candidate Information Bulletin (CIB) links provided. Additional information can be found at
  • Applications and fees for the Theory and Practical examination MUST be submitted separately. No application will be accepted that is marked for both examinations nor received with fees for both the theory and practical

Kentucky Salon Requirements

Requirements for a New Salon (Beauty, Nail or Esthetic). The first step in licensing a salon in the Commonwealth of Kentucky is to complete the application for a beauty salon license. The application requires three signatures:

  • Planning and Zoning Commissioner, Building Inspector or Elected Official
  • State Plumbing Inspector
  • State Cosmetology Salon Inspector

Once the zoning and plumbing portions of the application has been completed, you should contact the cosmetology salon inspector to schedule an inspection time. This is the last person to sign the application and the establishment must be ready for opening when the inspector arrives.

The application must be submitted to the Board office with the appropriate fee. Please allow for sufficient processing time as the license must be posted in the salon prior to opening. You may bring the completed application to the board office and the license will be issued to you at that time.

Change of Owner/Manager

If a salon changes owner(s) or manager(s) at any time during the licensing year, a new salon license must be purchased. Please complete a Salon Application (Transfer of Ownership) or a Manager Change Application and submit the completed application to the board office along with the appropriate fee.

Plumbing Changes

If there are any changes in the plumbing (i.e. replacing old shampoo bowls, adding shampoo bowls, pedicure stations, etc.) a new salon application must be completed with the appropriate signatures. No fee is required with the application if it is being submitted to update plumbing changes only.

Change of Location

If your salon is changing locations you must complete a new Salon Application.

Kentucky License Renewal

All licenses must be renewed beginning July 1 through July 31 of each year. If the license renewal is not received in the board office or postmarked by July 31 the license is expired and the appropriate restoration fee must be paid, no exceptions. Download license renewal form.

Ketucky Duplicate Licenses

Duplicate licenses can only be issued for those that have been lost or stolen. They cannot issue duplicates for persons working in more than one salon without special permission. A licensee must submit, in writing, reason for duplication and must list each salon of employment. Download duplicate application form.

Kentucky License Restoration

An expired license can be restored provided the license has been expired for less than five years by submitting the License Restoration Application with the required fee. To restore a cosmetologist or esthetic license that has been expired for a period exceeding five years, the statute requires the individual to apply and successfully complete the respective practical and theory examination. Download license restoration form.

Ketucky License Certification

Any licensee can request a certification for their license. Certifications are typically used when applying for a license in another state. Applicants must submit the DCertification Request Form to the board office along with the fee of $20. Certifications can only be submitted to the transferring state. No certification will be mailed to a private address. Download license certification request form.

Threading Specialty Permit

As of July 20, 2012 The Kentucky State Board of Hairdressers and Cosmetologists will offer a permit for threading practitioners and facilities. These permits do not require any special education but they will be held to the same sanitation standards as all other salons and will be periodically inspected.

What is Threading?

Threading is an ancient method of hair removal which originated in parts of India, the Middle and Far East, and is now gaining popularity in Western countries. It is a technique that is usually passed down from generation to generation and is viewed as artistry.

Threading is a hair removal technique that uses 100% cotton thread. The cotton thread is twisted and rolled along the surface of the skin entwining the hairs in the thread, which are then lifted quickly from the follicle. It is more precise than waxing and allows for better lines. For people who would like to pursue a more natural beauty regimen, hair threading is a good choice, since it does not use harmful chemical products.

It is important to find someone who is experienced at eyebrow threading. Inexperience can result in uneven brows, hair breakage, ingrown hairs, or unnecessary pain. Download threading permit form.