What You Need to Know About the Cosmetology Licensure Compact

A barber packs up her shop but doesn't worry about cosmetology licensure reciprocity thanks to new legislation.

As demanding as the barbering world can be, it is also a career path ripe with potential and brimming with possibilities. In many ways, you can forge your own path and choose the direction you wish for your career to take.

If mobility is a priority for you, barbering can grant you the ability to travel and work on the go. That is, of course, unless you hold a license in one state and want to work in another. Then, you can encounter some frustrating barriers.

Traditionally, you would likely have to procure and maintain licenses in every state you wanted to work in. The process was tedious and severely limiting for barbers who crave the freedom to travel. Thanks to the Cosmetology Licensure Compact, however, that norm is changing.

What You Should Know about the Cosmetology Licensure Compact

The Benefits of Cosmetology Licensure Compact

New legislation put forth by a partnership between the Council of State Governments, the Department of Defense, and a coalition of cosmetology boards from several states paves a way for barbers to have more freedom of movement and mobility via an interstate compact.

Essentially, this compact allows states to join the compact as legal members. When they do, any barber licensed within the state can travel to and work freely in other member states. Sounds great, right?

How the Cosmetology Licensure Compact Works

In order for a state to become a member of the compact, its legislature must pass the model, and the Governor must sign it into law. Once this happens, the state is legally bound in an agreement with other states that have adopted the compact.

If you are licensed in a state that adopts this model, you can then apply for a multistate license. With the approval of your application, you can then practice your craft in any other state that has also joined the compact. This grants you tremendous mobility and work flexibility, especially as the number of states within the licensure compact continues to grow.

After receiving your multistate license, you need simply to maintain its validity by renewing it through your home state’s licensing board. This will likely require completing certain continuing education work as determined by your home state.

A barber cuts his client's beard while discussing cosmetology licensure.

Why the Cosmetology Licensure Compact Matters

While it has always been possible to work in multiple states, the process was anything but streamlined. Typically, it required that you be licensed in multiple states—a task unto itself, but even more convoluted when you consider the exams, educational requirements, and more required to procure and maintain licensure.

To call it a juggling act would be an understatement. The prospect of dual or even multiple state-licensure was daunting, to say the least. Many barbers were deterred from pursuing their dreams and what was best for their careers by the sheer complexity and frustration of the situation.

The Cosmetology Licensure Compact creates a multistate standard that, should it be passed into law by enough states, will greatly improve the mobility of barbers. This means opening a second shop across state lines, moving your business to a new location, or even embracing a mobile business model will be far easier.

Whether you’re ambitious and want to transform or expand your barbering biz or your work simply demands cross-state mobility, the Cosmetology Licensure Compact is a beacon of hope on the horizon. Should it reach its full potential and establish a strong network of member states, it would be a dream realized for many barbers.

The Next Steps Every Barber Should Know

If your state has not yet joined the compact, you may want to encourage them to do so. You can do this by contacting the appropriate representatives, reaching out to your state board of barbering and/or cosmetology, and encouraging your fellow industry professionals to do the same.

When your home state does pass the legislation and become a member, be sure to submit your application for a new multistate license. This will probably be as simple as completing the application and providing your qualifications. If you meet the standards, you will be issued a multi-state license that shares reciprocity with other states in the compact!

The Cosmetology Licensure Compact is an exciting development for cosmetologists, barbers, and others in related fields. If you would like to stay informed about the latest barbering news—from licensing information to exciting trends—be sure to subscribe to NAOB.

We also encourage you to visit our blog. It is updated frequently with invaluable barbering insights, tips, and tricks you can use to expand your knowledge, grow your business, and excel in the wonderful world of barbering.