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Board of Cosmetology - Nail Technologist - License Information

Education and training

Oregon applicants for licensure must first complete and pass courses required by the Higher Education Coordinating Commission's Private Career Schools Licensing Unit.

Programs offered by Oregon licensed career schools under Oregon Administrative Rules Chapter 817:

  • Nail Technology: 241 hours, 70 practical operations
  • Barbering: 746 hours, 465 practical operations
  • Esthetics: 444 hours, 220 practical operations
  • Hair Design: 1,110 hours, 455 practical operations
  • Oregon Laws and Rules: 20 hours
  • Career Development: 20 hours

Training may also be obtained through a competency-based school [for a definition and details from the Higher Education Coordinating Commission's rules, scroll down to Oregon Administrative Rule 715-045-0220], which may not require the minimum training hours.


Practical examinations

Hourly-based and competency-based schools require students to pass a state-sanctioned practical examination conducted by a licensed career school meeting HECC criteria and standards.

In collaboration with HECC, the Health Licensing Office (HLO) regularly conducts performance evaluations of state-sanctioned practical examinations at Oregon licensed career schools to guarantee compliance with HECC criteria and standards.

Oregon recognizes the practical examination as the first step in a two-step examination process toward licensure.

Graduates of both hourly-based and competency-based schools in Oregon as well as applicants from out of state obtaining certification through reciprocity and experience equivalency (see below) must pass a written examination to obtain certification.

Written examinations for all fields of practice

  • The written examination is conducted on a walk-in basis (no appointment necessary).
  • Two forms of government ID with your current legal name are required for testing. Read identification requirements.
  • HLO office hours to begin testing are Monday 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Tuesday 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and Wednesday through Friday 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
  • Applicants taking two or more fields of practice examinations should arrive as early as possible (no later than noon) to complete their examinations by 4:30 p.m. Applicants taking four fields of practice examinations should arrive and be ready to test at 9 a.m.
  • Please note: If you are on parole or probation, you must provide a letter of release from your probation or parole officer authorizing you to obtain an authorization to practice. If you are on bench probation, or probation with the court, you must provide documentation of your conditions of the probation.
  • The time limit for each field of practice section of the examination and for the Oregon Laws and Rules examination is 90 minutes.

Written examinations offered in Spanish and Vietnamese

Effective Tuesday, January 16, 2018, the Health Licensing Office (HLO) will be providing the Cosmetology field of practice examinations (i.e. barbering, hair design, nail technology, and esthetics), and the Oregon Laws and Rules examination in Spanish and Vietnamese.
The HLO will continue to provide individuals with the opportunity to obtain additional time to complete an examination administered in English, when English is the individual's second language (ESL).
Additional time will only be given to individuals taking an examination which is not being administered in the individual's primary language.
If an applicant is taking an examination(s) with additional time, the applicant must appear at the HLO as specified below:
  • Between 8:00 and 11:00 a.m. - One (1) field of practice and the Oregon Laws and Rules examination.
  • By 8:00 a.m. - Two (2) fields of practice and the Oregon Laws and Rules examination.
***Please note: The Health Licensing Office does not open until 9:00 a.m. on Tuesdays.
To accommodate individuals taking three (3) field of practice examinations and the Oregon Laws and Rules examination with additional time, the examinations may be required to be completed on two separate testing days.
If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact the HLO at (503) 378-8667, email, or visit the agency website at

Special-accommodation examinations are also available. Download and complete an Accommodation Request form to request accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act.


Retaking a written exam

HLO and the Board of Cosmetology established requirements, including waiting periods and additional training, for applicants who fail the written examination and must retake the examination after one or more failed attempts.

Barbering, Esthetics, Hair Design and Nail Technology Retake Requirements

After the third and sixth failed attempts, applicants must obtain additional training from an Oregon educational institution.

Printable Examination Retake Policy

Examination Attempts All cosmetology examinations waiting periods and additional training:
After First Failed Attempt Required to wait seven calendar days before second attempt
After Second Failed Attempt Required to wait seven calendar days before third attempt
After Third and Sixth Failed Attempts Required to:
  • Wait 30 calendar days before taking fourth and/or seventh attempt
  • Prior to fourth and/or seventh attempts, submit Certification of Additional Training certificate from an Oregon educational institution to Health Licensing Office (HLO)
  • Reapply and pay application processing fee
After Fourth and Fifth Failed Attempts Required to wait seven calendar days before retaking examination
After Seventh Failed Attempt To be determined by the HLO and Board of Cosmetology

Reciprocity from out of state

Step-by-step guide to reciprocity

Application process and fees

Examination and Application: A How-to Guide
Cosmetology Practitioner Application Information Packet (except NHC)
User-friendly copy of Board of Cosmetology Laws & Rules


Required documentation and fees to apply for hair design certification

  • Official transcript from a licensed cosmetology career school (in-state applicants) or affidavit of licensure (out-of-state applicants)
  • two pieces of government-issued photo identification, and Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification number View identification requirements
  • Completed application form
  • Payment of a non-refundable application fee, examination fee per field of practice, examination fee for the Oregon Laws and Rules examination and an original certificate fee for each field of practice. View Fees

Renewal process

Application for certification renewal should be made in advance of the certification inactive date, which is the last day of the month two years from the date of issuance. Renewal applications are mailed to practitioners approximately six weeks prior to certification expiration courtesy of HLO / Board of Cosmetology.

Renew Online

Name changes

If you have had a legal name change, please see the list of acceptable documents to prove your current full legal name. You will need to provide this documentation to renew your certification.

Legal Name Change Update Form

Note: If a practitioner's two-year certificate goes inactive, there is a three-year window to renew by paying the current renewal fee(s) and late fee(s).

Business authorization

All practitioners who provide services in Oregon must do so in a licensed facility, which is defined as " establishment operated on a regular or irregular basis for the purpose of providing services in one or more fields of practice."

The only exception is a practitioner who obtains a freelance authorization, which is a written authorization allowing a practitioner to practice outside of or away from a licensed facility.

The third type of cosmetology business license is an independent contractor registration. An independent contractor is defined as a practitioner "...who is not under the control and direction of a facility license holder."

Temporary facility permits allow holders to operate a facility on a temporary basis for a period not to exceed 30 consecutive calendar days.

More information.

Reactivation and reinstatement

Certification reinstatement after three years in inactive status

Practitioners whose certificate is inactive for three years or more must take and pass both the practical and written examinations (within two years of reapplication), reapply for certification and pay all application, examination and certification renewal fees.

Practitioner certification turns to inactive status if the practitioner does not renew prior to the date of certification renewal. Practitioners in inactive status who provide services to the public are in violation.

Note: Independent contractor registrations and freelance authorizations that are not renewed become dormant. These authorizations do not become inactive and do not expire. To reactivate a dormant independent contractor registration or freelance authorization, the holder must contact HLO.

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