California has a large number of salons, catering to people from all walks of life. Because of this, there are endless opportunities for cosmetology professionals to ply their trade.
However, before one can begin serving clients in a salon setting, certain educational criteria must be met. Namely, students are required to obtain a minimum of 1,600 hours of education and hands-on training to get a license to practice.
For that, the aspiring stylist must enroll in a reputable program at a cosmetology school. Choosing the right school is a daunting task, considering there are a plethora of schools to choose from.
To make the choice a bit easier for you, we’ve ranked the seven best cosmetology schools in California.
Considered the premier beauty college and school of cosmetology in the Bay Area, Avalon is a school for people that are serious about a career in beauty.
It is accredited by the National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences (NACCAS), so students can rest assured they will receive the highest quality education and training available.
What’s more, the tuition rate is just over $16,000, with an additional $1,540 for the kit, below the average for other cosmetology schools.
The program is 14 months long.
The school boasts a 70 percent on-time graduation rate and a full 80 percent of graduates find jobs in the industry. Students learn to master the art of designing with shears and clippers as well as the latest techniques for creating vibrant color, permanent waves, relaxers, extensions and an endless list of other skills from experienced instructors.
They also get extensive training on the business end of cosmetology, including retail skills, marketing and promotion, finances, and communication skills.
Located in Los Angeles, Colleen O’Hara’s Beauty Academy is Orange County’s longest continuously running beauty school. What sets them apart from the rest is their focus on small, intimate class sizes taught in both English and Spanish.
Students can expect tuition rates to be reasonable, at just over $18,000 for the 13-month long program, plus a kit cost of around $2,800. Classes are taught by industry professionals in a clean, modern facility that evokes a sense of style and grace on its own.
Courses are designed to teach students practical skills, along with theoretical knowledge, allowing them to perform duties such as hair cutting, styling, manicures, makeup artistry and skin care services. The majority of the course is devoted to allowing students to develop and practice their newly formed cosmetology skills with real clients, in a real salon setting, under the supervision of licensed instructors.
The majority of the course is devoted to allowing students to develop and practice their newly formed cosmetology skills with real clients, in a real salon setting, under the supervision of licensed instructors.
# 3 – Aveda Institute
Aveda has long been recognized, and touted, as a leader in the beauty industry because of its products, salons, and educational opportunities. So, it’s no wonder that the Aveda Institute of Los Angeles is included on this list of top cosmetology schools in California.
While tuition is higher than most, nearly $23,000, plus a $2,400 kit, the prestigious name, and high-end training students receive are well worth the cost. Plus, with over 6,500 salons and spas across the country, there are ample employment opportunities waiting for students upon graduation. In fact, they boast an incredible 83 percent job placement rate for graduates.
In addition to in-depth classroom education, students receive hands-on training supervised by top industry professionals in their salon on the UCLA campus. They’re also extremely involved in making the community a better place for all and participate in multiple charity events such as Earth Month and Beauty for a Cure.
# 4 – Paul Mitchell School
The Paul Mitchell School in San Diego averages a tuition rate of around $19,000 for a one-year program with an additional kit cost of $3,000.
Students, or as the school refers to them, “Future Professionals” go through extensive training which begins with individualized instruction using mannequin heads.
They then progress to practicing their craft on live models under supervision. They then move on to the creative level, which prepares them to work in a salon setting and to pass the state board exam. Finally, they move on to the final phase, which offers advanced training in a working salon atmosphere. Perhaps one of the most attractive aspects of the Paul Mitchell School in San Diego is that students are encouraged to participate fully within their community.
They, along with their teachers, donate their skills and a significant amount of time to various charities in the area. These include fashion shows, cut-athons, and a myriad of fundraising events and other philanthropic activities.
Bonus – Students get free iPads!
Located in San Marcos, California, Palomar Institute of Cosmetology has been training professional cosmetologists for over 25 years. On average, students spend a year studying under highly-trained industry professionals to learn to most innovative techniques in hair cutting, styling, coloring, manicures and more.
Tuition is right around $18,250 for the program, plus the cost of the professional kit, which is close to $2,000.
Even more importantly, the school provides students with a broad understanding of the business aspect of their career, setting them up for even higher levels of success in the future.
The school’s students aren’t the only ones learning, their beauty school instructors are working professionals that continue to acquire new techniques and trends so they can pass their knowledge on to future stylists.
This covers an array of services, including hair cutting, styling, and coloring as well as makeup artistry and manicure techniques. They also offer a Master Stylist Program exclusively that helps students further advance their career and earning potential.
# 6 – Bellus Academy
As with most of the schools on this list, Bellus Academy in El Cajon offers students an 11-month program for around $18,000, plus $2,500 for the kit. This school, however, is not your average cosmetology academy. They’ve received a host of awards from national magazines dedicated to the industry because of their training procedures. They’re also well-known for giving students the education they need to own and operate their own business, from financing to marketing and beyond.
Exclusive to Bellus is the opportunity for students to enroll in one program, but graduate with multiple credentials. In fact, they are the only school in the country that offers 17 distinct programs in the beauty and wellness industries. Perhaps one of the most appealing aspects of this school is the fact that they have deep-rooted relationships with high-end salons throughout Southern California.
These relationships translate into externships for students that enroll in their advanced cosmetology and aesthetic program.
With tuition costing a mere $10,700, and a low kit price of $750, this 15-month program may, at first glance seem to be out of place in a list of top cosmetology schools in California. However, this is far from being the case. Although it is certainly one of the most affordable cosmetology schools in the state, there is nothing lacking in the education and support students receive.
The International College of Cosmetology is a multi-lingual college that offers course materials in English and Spanish, as well as translating courses into Chinese and Vietnamese to meet student’s needs. Located in Oakland, California, this cosmetology college boasts a high rate of success, with 80 percent of students graduating the program on time. Students of this unique, inclusive, school learn to master all of the latest techniques for cutting, styling, and coloring hair along with other skills, such as manicures, pedicures, and makeup artistry.
The classwork and hands-on learning opportunities give students everything they need to successfully pass the state board exams so they can begin work as a licensed cosmetologist in any salon in the state. What’s more, they also learn the business skills, and ethics, they need to fully realize their dreams of success.
If you’re ready to make your dream of becoming a licensed cosmetologist in California a reality, take some time to investigate these seven unique cosmetology schools. Each has a plethora of advantages, and they all offer a high level of training that will prepare you to work in any of the 600,000 plus salons in the state. Or, you can take the knowledge that you’ve gained and put it to work for you by starting your own salon. The possibilities are truly endless, all you have to do is believe in yourself and take action so that you can begin your new, exciting career.