Esthetician License Requirements and Training Schools in Virginia

As one of America’s original spa destinations, Virginia has a well-developed skin-care industry with 1,120 estheticians employed in the state as of 2013. Whether catering to broad clientele at the Spa at Tysons Corner or working with wealthy clients and tourists at the Wintergreen Resort Spa, Virginia offers you a wide variety of options at its many spas and salons.

Becoming an esthetician in Virginia starts by getting licensed through the Virginia Board for Barbers and Cosmetologists, which licenses both basic and master estheticians. Review this step-by-step guide to learn how to become an esthetician in Virginia:

Get your Esthetics Education
Apply for Exams and Consider Applying for a Temporary Permit
Pass the Written and Practical Exams
Apply for your Esthetician License from the Virginia Board of Barbers and Cosmetologists
Start your Career in Virginia’s Salon and Spa Industry
Renew your Virginia Esthetician License Every Two Years



Step 1. Get your Esthetics Education

You have the choice of studying to become an esthetician at an approved school or serving as an esthetics apprentice.

Enter Zip:

Formal esthetics education involves taking at least 600 hours of coursework. You need to study at a school that the Board has approved as providing a quality education. Nearly 50 schools were approved as of October 2014.

These three cities each have a number of approved schools:

  • Arlington
  • Chesapeake
  • Richmond

Before you choose a school, you may check the pass rates for the practical and theory exams at the Board’s website. A number of schools had all of their students pass these exams in 2013.

If you already know a lot about esthetics, the school may decide to give you up to 300 credit hours towards a basic or master esthetician education.

Basic Esthetician Courses

In a basic esthetician program you will study a wide range of areas having to do with skin care. You will take at least 255 hours of coursework in such fun areas as:

  • Masks
  • Cleansing procedures
  • Facials
    • Done manually
    • Done with electrical fields

You will also study at least 65 hours of makeup including color theory and using these techniques:

  • Applying false lashes and lash extensions
  • Lash perming

Body treatments is another fun area that you will study for at least 20 hours:

  • Body masks
  • Body wraps
  • Body treatments
  • Body scrubs
  • Aromatherapy

You will also be trained in general and applied sciences, including infection control. And importantly—you will learn about running your own skin care business, so you will be able to open up your own salon in the future!

Master Esthetician Courses

In master esthetician programs you will learn about basic esthetics such as infection control when you study to be a master esthetician. However, you will be trained in a wide variety of advanced techniques:

  • Lymphatic drainage
  • Microdermabrasion and dermaplaning
  • Chemical exfoliation (including a wide range of peels)



Step 2. Apply for Exams and Consider Applying for a Temporary Permit

Once you are within 80 hours of completing your esthetics education at a school, you can sign up to apply for the Virginia esthetics exam at either the esthetics or the master esthetics level.

Signing up for Your Exams

You will be scheduling your exams with Ergometrics/National Testing Network (NTN). The Board recommends that you apply online, but you can download a PDF application to print and mail. They will only accept the most recent version of this application, so you should go to the Exams & Applications section to apply.

If you got your esthetician training through a Virginia esthetics school, they will refer you online. They will give you a temporary username and password to sign up. By the time you go to take your exam, your school will have reported all of your training hours on the website.

Either you or your school will have to provide a professional passport color photo. This must have been taken within the previous 6 months. You should check the candidate bulletin for the exact requirements for this photo.

The procedure for scheduling the exam will be different if you got your training as an esthetician apprentice. You will complete an online Non-School application.

You will take your written and practical esthetician exams separately. The fee is $85 for each exam. You have a choice of locations to take these exams:

  • Charlottesville
  • Manassas
  • Richmond
  • Roanoke
  • Virginia Beach

Applying for Your Temporary Permit

Once you have scheduled your exam, you can apply to for a temporary permit and start serving clients! You can find the form for this under the General Forms (All Board License Types) section on the Education and Exams website.



Step 3. Pass the Written and Practical Exams

You should refer to the appropriate candidate bulletin to find extensive information on how to prepare for your exams. There are separate bulletins for the esthetician and master esthetician exams. Since you will need a score of 75 to pass your written and practical exams, you should prepare ahead of time.

Written Exam

Your written exam will cover both your professional knowledge of esthetics practices and the rules and regulations of the federal government and Virginia. This exam will take two hours, and it is important that you be familiar with using a computer.

The Board determined that all of the topics in the exam will be important to your esthetician performance by surveying licensed Virginia estheticians. You should review the candidate exam booklet to make sure you know what will be covered in these topics:


You should use these sources to prepare for the esthetics exam:

If you will be taking the master esthetics exam, you should also use this textbook:

  • Milady’s Standard Esthetics Advanced, 2013

Practical Exam

You will be tested on your ability to successfully perform the steps for each service in a way that is sanitary, safe and legal. You can use whatever technique you like.

You will need to bring a kit with you that will fit under your workstation. You can find a checklist of what you will need to bring in the candidate exam bulletin. You will need to bring a clean mannequin head that lies down.

Esthetician Exam

The following steps are described in detail in the exam booklet:

  • Initial setup
  • Blood spill procedures demonstration
  • Facial
  • Facial mask
  • Manual extraction
  • Tweezing and waxing
  • Disinfection and cleanup

Master Esthetician Exam

You will be tested on more advanced techniques if you are taking the practical master esthetician exam:

  • Initial setup
  • Blood spill procedures demonstration
  • Cleansing facial
  • Microdermabrasion
  • Ultrasonic and microcurrent (handheld) service
  • Intense pulsed light (IPL) treatment
  • 20% Beta hydroxy acid (BHA) peel service
  • Disinfection and cleanup



Step 4. Apply for your Esthetician License from the Virginia Board of Barbers and Cosmetologists

You will be able to find out that you have passed your exams within a week after taking them. You can get your results from your online account page.

Now that you have passed your exams, you can get your Virginia esthetician’s license! You will be able to get a licensure fee notice online. You will need to download this from your account and send it to the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DOPR). The address and payment information will be on your notice.

If you are a licensed esthetician in another state, you can transfer your license to Virginia providing you have met at least 80% of the required training hours. If you don’t have all of the required hours, you must have six months full time experience as an esthetician. There are two steps involved in getting your license by endorsement:

  • Submit your completed endorsement application and fee
  • Have the licensing authority in your state mail a Certification of Licensure to the Board. (If you got your original license in a different state, they must be the one to send the certificate.)



Step 5. Start your Career in Virginia’s Salon and Spa Industry

Now that you have your license, you are free to work as an esthetician in Virginia! You have a wide variety of spas and salons to choose from that will let you use your skills creativity. Maybe you want to pamper skiers at Virginia’s mountain resort spas:

  • The Omni Homestead
  • Bryce Resort
  • Massanuten Resort
  • The Omni Homestead
  • Primland Resort

If you want to work in Virginia’s urban areas, there are a number of famous spas to choose from:

  • Amenity Day Spa—Ashburn
  • Elcips—McLean and Ashburn
  • Ritz-Carlton Spa—McLean
  • Spa at Tysons Corner—Vienna
  • Spa Minerale—Landsdowne
  • Sugar House Day Spa & Salon—Alexandria

Virginia has other options if you want a more cutting-edge urban scene. Frommer’s travel site named Richmond as one of its 2014 top places to visit. This city even has an organic spa! Scents of Serenity is located in a historic farmhouse and was voted one of Richmond’s best spas for waxing, brow shaping, and facials.

With a few years of experience, you can open up your own salon—even out of your own house! Virginia lets you operate out of your home if you get an additional salon license and follow all of the health regulations.



Step 6. Renew your Virginia Esthetician License Every Two Years

Your license will be good for two years from the month that it was issued. You will be sent a notice when it is time to renew your license. You should keep track of the date it is due, since it is your responsibility to renew it even if you don’t get a renewal notice in the mail. If you don’t get a notice, you can use a copy of your old license to apply for renewal.

Virginia does not require any continuing education credits, but it would benefit you to keep up with the latest advances and trends. You can do this by taking classes at your local beauty school. That way, you can impress your clients and keep them coming back to you!

Esthetician Salaries and Job Prospects in Virginia

Home to some of the wealthiest suburbs and neighborhoods in the country, where many of D.C.’s elite live and certainly where you can find some of the trendiest salons and spas, Virginia is not just a prime spot to kickstart your career in esthetics, but it’s also where your earning potential can soar well above the national average.

According to the Virginia Employment Commission, licensed estheticians totaled 1,256 in 2016; by 2026, this number is projected to rise to 1,403, a steady increase of 11.7%. But it’s not the consistent job growth that’s bound to capture your attention; it’s the salary average for the top earners here.

These represent base wages and salaries and don’t account for tips and commissions on product sales, which add considerably to an esthetician’s take home pay.

Hourly Wage

  • Low: $8.15
  • Median: $13.80
  • High: $37.89

Annual Salary

  • Low: $16,950
  • Median: $28,700
  • High: $78,800

The first few years in the esthetics field will garner you annual pay of about $17,000. With a few years of experience and plenty of hard work, you’ll enjoy a salary that’s closer to $30,000. But land a job in one of Virginia’s top salons or spas and earn a reputation as the go-to skincare guru and you may be able to earn a salary that pushes $80,000 – or about $20,000 above the national average.

When considering your earning potential, keep in mind that salary stats don’t take into account tips and commissions which, as any service professional will attest, can easily add 20% or more to your bottom line. You may also earn an annual salary instead of an hourly wage plus tips if you work in a medical esthetics setting.

The most experienced estheticians often separate themselves from the employer-employee relationship, instead choosing to focus on building their own esthetics business by renting a booth in a well-established salon or spa. This arrangement opens the door to your own business ventures, which could include taking out a lease and opening up a location of your own one day.

Salary Variations in Different Parts of Virginia

Not all Virginia metro areas are equal when it comes to esthetician pay. It’s no surprise that the biggest earners in Virginia are found in the DC metro area and the popular vacation destinations of the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News metro area.


  • Low: $17,090
  • Median: $33,480
  • High: $44,430

Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV

  • Low: $17,150
  • Median: $29,500
  • High: $78,120

Kingsport-Bristol, TN-VA

  • Low: $17,270
  • Median: $26,510
  • High: $56,180

Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News

  • Low: $16,900
  • Median: $25,440
  • High: $94,880

2017 salary data provided by the U.S. Department of Labor-Sponsored resource CareerOneStop – State and MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) data includes estheticians at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries. Employment conditions in your area may vary.  

2016 job growth data provided by the U.S. Department of Labor-Sponsored resource Projections Central –

All data accessed June 2019.



7 Notable Esthetician Programs in Virginia

Whether you’re discovering the museums of Richmond, exploring the shops of Charlottesville, or indulging in the sights and sounds of Virginia Beach’s vibrant boardwalk, Virginia is where your creative mindset is inspired and your artistic soul is stirred. From Arlington to Alexandria, Chesapeake to Norfolk, Virginia cities are trendy, cool, and stylish, providing the ideal backdrop to the cutting-edge esthetician schools found here.

The esthetician schools we chose not only meet state requirements for esthetician licensure but also offer plenty of amenities, such as modern facilities, financial aid, career placement services, top-notch student clinics, and flexible schedules.

The following esthetician programs in Virginia (and the one we included in nearby West Virginia to round out the list) rise to the top of the class, and here’s why:

Avi Career Training - Great Falls


  • Tuition: $8,050
  • Kit Cost: $990
  • Program Length: 5 months

Avi Career Training is as modern and trendy as the D.C. Metropolitan locale it is situated near. Students here receive the theoretical and practical training necessary to take the esthetician state licensing examination and begin practicing the art and science of skincare in Virginia. Just a few of the perks of attending Avi Career Training include personalized instruction (thanks to carefully controlled class sizes), flexible scheduling options, and state-of-the-art skincare equipment.

The Chrysm Institute of Esthetics - Virginia Beach


  • Tuition: $9,650
  • Kit Cost: $750
  • Program Length: 8 months

The beautiful shores of Virginia Beach provide the ideal setting for the Chrysm Institute of Esthetics. In addition to its picturesque location, the Chrysm Institute boasts a beautiful, well-equipped facility, complete with a modern student salon and open floor plan. This school also offers several federal student aid and loan options, and veterans can apply their GI Bill benefits here.

Dermal Science International Aesthetics & Nails Academy - Reston


  • Tuition: $8,400
  • Kit Cost: $1,500
  • Program Length: 6 months

The Dermal Science International Aesthetics & Nails Academy is everything you’d expect in an esthetician school—and much more. In addition to its ideal location in Reston, just minutes from Washington D.C., Maryland, and Northern Virginia, the Dermal Science International Aesthetics and Nail Academy boasts a modern and spacious training academy, complete with classrooms, social areas, and student lounge spaces, along with an academic building equipped with state-of-the-art tools and technology for plenty of valuable hands-on experiences.

Graham Webb Academy - Arlington


  • Tuition: $8,700
  • Kit Cost: $800
  • Program Length: 5 months

Drawing from its 25 years of international wellness and beauty industry knowledge and experience, the Graham Webb Academy has produced well-respected and successful estheticians at its beautiful Arlington facility, located just minutes from our nation’s capital. Arlington’s prime location at the border of Virginia and Washington D.C. has allowed this beautiful “urban village” to become known for its strong job market, high real estate values, and overall sophistication.

The Graham Webb Academy prides itself on its rigorous curriculum, its use of the highest-quality equipment and supplies, and its team of professionals who have been trained to exact standards. Plus, the school’s admission department is on hand to help you determine your options for federal financial aid.

Institute of Advanced Medical Esthetics - Richmond


  • Tuition: $9,950
  • Kit Cost: Included in the cost of tuition
  • Program Length: 6 months

A prime Richmond location and a proven, twelve-year track record for excellence are just two of the many reasons why the Institute of Advanced Medical Esthetics has earned itself a spot on our list of the top esthetician schools in Virginia. The Institute of Advanced Medical Esthetics maintains an advisory board of industry professionals who evaluate the curriculum and facility every year to ensure the program continues to outpace the demands of the industry, and the fully equipped facility ensures you plenty of hands-on training. For example, you will have the opportunity to work with advanced product lines and equipment found in leading mede-spas.

Morgantown Beauty College - Morgantown, WV


  • Tuition: $7,425
  • Kit Cost: $1,060
  • Program Length: 5 months

Inspiration is easy to come by at Morgantown Beauty College, thanks to the school’s cool surroundings (located in an historical building) and its fabulous location ideally situated in the heart of downtown Morgantown’s business district. The small class size ensures you’ll receive individualized attention, while the flexible tuition payment plans and financial aid options make covering the cost of your education easier than ever.

In addition to coursework in nutrition, skin structure, temporary hair removal methods, and the health of the skin, among other topics, this 600-hour esthetics program will provide you with plenty of hands-on, supervised clinical training with the public to prepare you to pass your exams and become a state licensed esthetician in Virginia.

Steiner Institute of Esthetics at VASOM - Charlottesville


  • Tuition: $11,182
  • Kit Cost: $1,325
  • Program Length: 8 months

The Steiner companies have been a beauty mainstay in England for more than a hundred years. Today, the Steiner Institute of Esthetics has continued the tradition of excellence, providing budding estheticians with comprehensive educational programs that prepare them to become capable estheticians and talented business professionals. We love the Steiner Institute of Esthetics at VASOM because of its prime Charlottesville location, its career placement assistance, and its flexible programs that include both day and evening classes.

Students of Steiner Education Group schools are frequently recruited to work at the more than 200 Steiner spas and salons on cruise ships and resorts across the globe.

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