Department of Labor and Regulation

Title - South Dakota Cosmetology Commission

Out-of-State Applicants - Licensed (Reciprocity Licensing)

South Dakota Requirements
Temporary License
Getting Your South Dakota License

To become a licensed cosmetologist, esthetician or nail technician in South Dakota through reciprocity, you must already have a current license from another state and your out-of-state license must have equal or greater requirements compared to those of South Dakota.

If you do not have a current license, then you should apply as a out-of-state student.

South Dakota Reciprocity Requirements

Education Hours
These hours must be certified by your previous state. If you do not meet the required hours, see Work Experience below.

Cosmetologist - 2100 education hours
Esthetician - 600 education hours
Nail technician - 400 education hours

Work Experience
These hours may be added to the education hours (reciprocity only) if you do not meet the required education hours. Two hours of work experience equals one hour of education. For example, if you worked for 2000 hours, you can count 1000 hours, which is the maximum you can apply toward your cosmetologist education hours.

If your work hours date from more than five years before your South Dakota application date, you must take a safety/sanitation course from the Commission.

Maximum Computed Work Hours:

  • Cosmetologist - up to 1000 hours
  • Esthetician - up to 350 hours
  • Nail technician - up to 200 hours

Current License from Another State
An inactive license is accepted.

Age of 18 Years or Older
You need a copy of your birth certificate, a naturalization record or a U.S. government photo identification.

A High School Education or GED
You need a copy of any one of the following items:

Passage of Required Testing - IMPORTANT - Testing requirements were changed on March 2009.

The South Dakota written laws and rules test is required of everyone. Study materials are provided after the application is approved.

  • Cosmetologist - Theory and hands-on practical examinations from another state. These tests cannot be given by school officials.
  • Esthetician - National (NIC) theory examination and National (NIC) hands-on practical examination in South Dakota only.
  • Nail technician - National (NIC) theory examination and National (NIC) hands-on practical examination in South Dakota only.

Reciprocity Fee of $100.00
This includes application verification, any examinations and initial license. It is non-refundable.

back to top


Documentation of licensure, education and testing is through a certification from the state(s) where you hold or have ever held a license.

Certifications can take time to obtain and most have a fee, so call your state(s) immediately. You must obtain a certification from each board/commission that has issued you a license. All certifications must be sent directly to the South Dakota Cosmetology Commission from the other board(s). We accept education proof only from the original state board, not from the school.

Temporary License

A temporary license may be issued if the applicant has a job lined up and qualifies for a temporary license. Temporary licenses are NOT issued to nail technicians or estheticians seeking reciprocity from Florida due to the fact that Florida does not license these practices. The fee for a temporary license is $6.00 (non-refundable). It is valid until you receive the results of your examinations.

Note: All reciprocity paperwork and fees must be received before a temporary license can be issued. You cannot work until you have a valid South Dakota license to post at your work site.

back to top

Getting Your South Dakota License

You need to know the following:

  • Incomplete applications are held for only three months.
  • There are no refunds once an application is processed.
  • You will be sent the laws/rules book and examination information after your reciprocity paperwork has been approved.
  • The national (NIC) examinations are administered at various times throughout the year in Pierre, Rapid City, Sioux Falls and Watertown.
  • Written examinations are offered in English and Vietnamese. The practical exam is only offered in English; no interpreters are allowed.
  • Reasonable testing accommodations for a disability can be provided (see ADA policy). However, any disability will have to be documented by a physician or licensed professional.

Be sure to read the Reciprocity Checklist that is included with the application below. If you have any questions, please feel free to call our staff at 605.773.6193.

Forms - as of March 2009

The following forms for Reciprocity Licensing are available in Adobe .pdf format* from our Forms page:

Application for Reciprocity and Checklist Instructions
Temporary License Application
Work Experience Affidavit Form

back to top

*Opening and printing Adobe .pdf files requires Adobe Acrobat Reader. Click here as needed to download the free Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Marcia Hultman, Secretary
123 W. Missouri Ave.
Pierre, SD 57501-4505
Tel. 605.773.3101
Fax. 605.773.6184