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Best 15 Cosmetology Schools in California in 2021

February 12, 2021 | Staff Writers

Cosmetology Schools in California
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Cosmetology schools in California allow students to achieve their dream of providing services to clients and customers that meets and exceeds the requirements of the state. The fact that California is often considered an epicenter of the beauty industry is likely an attractive consideration for aspiring cosmetology students who must first complete an appropriate program. 

Requirements to Become a Cosmetologist in California 

The California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology governs cosmetology schools in California, providing licensing and regulating services for all cosmetology professionals that provide the services and the establishments in which the services are performed within the state. These, along with other actions and responsibilities, help to protect consumers and to educate them as they seek the services of a licensed cosmetologist. 

When an aspiring student plans to attend one of the cosmetology schools in California, the first step is to determine if the school is properly licensed and if it follows the laws and ethical standards required by state law. Students must personally complete an approved school program, and obtain their cosmetology license before being allowed to work as a cosmetologist within the state.  

The State of California requires that cosmetology students complete a minimum of 1600 hours of education and training, and that the student receive a passing score on the State Board Examination. No student is permitted to sit for the exam without successfully completing the required 1,600 hours from a board-approved school.  

These cosmetology schools in California provide the necessary education and training that prepares graduates to become licensed cosmetologists in California. Achieve your goal of becoming a California Cosmetologist, whether you plan to provide services to the everyday consumer, or to the Hollywood elite when you choose to complete your required training and education at one of these top California cosmetology schools. The reduced tuition for several programs in the state provide the opportunity to complete one of the cosmetology programs at a lower cost than other schools that offer similar programs.  

Best 15 Cosmetology Schools in California

1. Butte College 

Butte College offers an Associate in Science in Cosmetology degree that meets the required 1,600 hours of education and training. Students complete the program by attending classes in seven modules that are each six weeks in length. Courses covered include the required courses that meets the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology requirements, along with several choices of electives. The estimated completion time is 11 months. 

  • Tuition: $46 per credit hour 
  • Accreditation: WASC 

2. Citrus College 

Citrus College, located in Glendora, California, offers a Certificate in Cosmetology program that meets the state requirements. Students learn the latest techniques in performing cosmetology services. The program provides students with theoretical and practical skills, along with interactive demonstrations, and hands-on applications.  

The program ranks in the top five certificate programs at the school. 

  • Tuition: $46 per credit hour 
  • Accreditation: WASC 

3. Fullerton College 

The Cosmetology Department at Fullerton College recognizes the ongoing growth in the cosmetology industry, and offers prospective students a comprehensive program that prepares them to sit for the Board exam. Students complete the required 1,600 hours of education and training, and have several program options, a benefit not offered at all schools.

Choose the Certificate in Cosmetology program to gain the basic knowledge and skills, and to meet the 1,600 hour requirements. Choose the Cosmetology Instructor Associate in Science Degree program and learn to teach the technical skills of cosmetology to work with hair, skin, and nails. Students enrolled in this program learn or expand on Pivot Point Principles. 

The Cosmetology Associate in Science Degree prepares graduates to sit for the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology examination.  

  • Tuition: $46 per credit hour 
  • Accreditation: WASC 

4. Golden West College 

Golden West College prepares cosmetology students for their future as a licensed cosmetologist by offering both a Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology, and an Associate of Science degree in Cosmetology.  

The courses are designed as entry level courses for students that want to complete the 1,600 required hours to sit for the state exam. The degree is offered as a full-time, daytime program. 

  • Tuition: $46 per credit hour 
  • Accreditation: WASC, Approved California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology 

5. Riverside City College 

Riverside City College is another California college with cosmetology programs with only a small tuition payment per unit, or credit hour. The school offers several opportunities for cosmetology students, including the Cosmetology Instructor Training program for students that hold a current Cosmetology licensed issued by the State of California. 

The program consists of 12 months of full-time study, covering areas such as lesson planning, use of audio and visual aids, applying principles to resolve classroom and instructional issues, and methods of evaluation. 

  • Tuition: $46 per credit hour 
  • Accreditation: WASC 

6. Saddleback College 

Located in Mission Viejo, California, Saddleback College offers two program options in the cosmetology department, including the opportunity for students to receive a Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology. The program meets the 1,600 hour state requirement for cosmetologists, and can be completed in three to five semesters of study. Program classes are on an open-entry basis, with student cohorts starting at a variety of times during a semester. 

The school points to the fact that with the growing population of South Orange County, the area is a particularly good area for cosmetologists to pursue their career. 

  • Tuition: $46 per credit hour 
  • Accreditation: WASC 

7. Santiago Canyon College 

The Santiago Canyon College offers an Associate of Science in Cosmetology degree that is designed to exceed the minimum standards set by the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology. Students learn through both classroom lecture and laboratory training. Topics covered include hairdressing, hair cutting, shaping, hair coloring, chemical waving and straightening. Other topics included in the program instruction include scalp and hair treatments, manicuring, facials, and operation of a beauty salon. Students also learn sanitation, laws and regulations. 

  • Tuition: $46 per credit hour
  • Accreditation: WASC 

8. San Jose City College 

The cosmetology program at San Jose City College is recognized as a top cosmetology program in the State of California, and features an award-winning staff. Students that enroll at the school have the opportunity to earn a Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology or an Associate of Science in Cosmetology degree. The cosmetology program prepares graduates to take the board exam, and to work as a licensed cosmetologist. 

Students engage in hands-on learning in the program that starts in either the fall or spring semester. 

  • Tuition: est. $166.66 per credit hour 
  • Accreditation: WASC 

9. International College of Cosmetology 

Gain the skills to become a cosmetologist in just 11 months at the International College of Cosmetology. The Bay-area school believes that cosmetology is a field not learned primarily in textbooks, but through hands-on salon opportunities, While preparing to sit for the exam, students will have the opportunity to work with real clients in the student salon at the school. 

Students gain more than the technical skills to launch a successful career in cosmetology. Learn confidence and the knowledge to build a client base. 

  • Tuition: est. $319.44 per credit hour 
  • Accreditation: NACCAS 

10. KC Beauty Academy 

The KC Beauty Academy is located in Los Angeles and provides students with the opportunity to become licensed cosmetologists. The cosmetology program provides students with the knowledge and skills to pass the California State Board Cosmetology examination. Students benefit from both technical and practical instruction in the 12-month program.  

  • Tuition: est. $388.88 per credit hour 
  • Accreditation: NACCAS 

11. Bellus Academy 

Bellus Academy offers students the opportunity to complete the cosmetology program at their choice of the El Cajon campus, or at the school’s Chula Vista or Poway location. The cosmetology program extends beyond the state board requirements by featuring one month each of cut, color, and hair extensions training.  

Students refine their interests during the five months of classroom hands-on education and training. The extra training in hair and eyelash extensions allows students to gain skills that will likely allow them to provide these in-demand services to clients. 

Students also gain entrepreneurial skills in branding, social media marketing, and training in other business areas. 

  • Tuition: est. $390.66 per credit hour 
  • Accreditation: NACCAS      

12. Lancaster Beauty School 

The Lancaster Beauty School, located in Lancaster, California, provides students with the opportunity to meet the 1,600 required hours of study and training to sit for the exam. Students learn the fundamental skills of hair, skin, and nails. Students also learn safety and sanitation measures for patron protection. 

Students also gain knowledge of good habits, good attitudes, self-assurance, responsibilities, and ethics in cosmetology. 

  • Tuition: est. $455.55 per credit hour 
  • Accreditation: National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences (NACCAS) 

13. American Beauty College 

The American Beauty College started in Bell, California and today includes campus locations in West Covina and Palmdale. The school works diligently towards perfecting their curriculum to provide students with an education that students can be proud of, as well as an education that meets Board requirements.  

The program consists of 1,600 hours, with up-to-date curriculum, which can be completed in 12 months.  

  • Tuition: est. $488.88 per credit hour 
  • Accreditation: National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences 

14. Palomar Institute of Cosmetology 

The Palomar Institute of Cosmetology provides students with in-depth knowledge and skills training in all basic areas of cosmetology. The program consists of a combination of theory and hands-on training, as well as the business skills that prepare students for a successful career in cosmetology. 

  • Tuition: est. $533.33 per credit hour 
  • Accreditation: NACCAS 

15. Neihule Academy of Beauty 

Students that attend the Neihule Academy understand the importance of style, design and color. They gain the technical and practical skills required of professional cosmetologists throughout the program. Students also learn communication skills, marketing skills, and product and retail knowledge.  

The school offers students the opportunity to turn passion into a career, and the opportunity to complete the program in less than 12 months. 

  • Tuition: est. $541.66 per credit hour 
  • Accreditation: Bureau for Private Post-Secondary Education (BPPE) 

Our Methodology 

We created this list of the best cosmetology schools in California, ranking each school by tuition after determined that it is an accredited or state-approved school. All of our ranked schools provide programs that prepares students to sit for the state board exam. 

Please note that the stated tuition rate is only for the cost of instruction. It does not cover the cost of required cosmetology kits, or other fees or costs. 

Would you like to have your school added to our lists, or to have your information updated? Please contact us and we can help you, our check out our best cosmetology schools page to see if you’re on it!

Are you looking for the right college or university? We can help you with this, based on the program that you select. 

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