To actually become a working, licensed professional cosmetologist in California is a multi-step process. It starts with graduating from one of many recognized beauty schools. You’ll have no trouble finding one in your area! Use our school finding app below or check out our “cosmetology schools near you” page.

Sacramento Valley, CA
Sacramento Valley, CA

How Many Hours Is The Training?

A minimum of 1,000 hours (longer than many states) is required by the Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education and the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology. There are both private and public schools offering such a program, and costs can vary widely! You may even get a cheap or free program if you are still in high school. Check out our table further down this page for an idea of what tuition costs are like at some institutes.

Get Your Training As An Apprentice

Another option is to train as an apprentice. Be prepared to put in more hours, though; it takes twice as long (2,000+ hours) as it does through a school; however, there is nothing like on-the-job training, which might make the hardship of a longer program worth it. You must register with the California Apprenticeship Program and get an apprentices license from the Cosmetology Board.

Becoming a cosmetologist in CA will allow you to offer a variety of services, such as various hair-related tasks like cutting, styling, coloring, manicuring and pedicuring, makeup, and so on. Many professionals find they gravitate towards a specialty and end up focusing on one aspect of beauty more than others.


Once you’ve finished your beauty training, you’ll need to pass both practical and written exams. To do so, you’ll have to apply to the cosmetology board and submit a fee. Be aware, though, that it may take up to three months before you hear back from them with your exam schedule.

Usually, both exams will be scheduled for the same day. You’ll be allowed two hours for the written test and twice that for your practical.

If you pass both exams, you’ll be given your California license, and you can start working right away! Though continuing education isn’t mandated, you’ll need to renew your license every two years.

Further Training

As your career develops, you may find yourself wanting further training to improve your abilities in whatever specialty you are drawn to. Extra education can be obtained even while you are still employed if you opt for weekend or evening classes.

Finding Beauty Work in CA

To find work as a beautician in CA, there are plenty of job search websites (example). Also, be sure to network with family and friends. Sometimes the place you’ve trained at will help with placement too.

Example California Beauty Schools with Costs and Addresses

NameAddressCostOther Programs
Avalon School of Cosmetology2318 Central Avenue
Alameda, 94501
$19,200Makeup Artistry, Esthetics, Cosmetology
Academy for Salon Professionals19520 Nordhoff Street Number 9, Northridge, 91324$18,500Cosmetology, Esthetics
Adrian’s Beauty Colleges 124 Floyd Avenue
Modesto, 95350
$15,600Cosmetology, Manicurist, Esthetician, Barbering, Cosmetology Instructor, Barber Crossover
Aveda Institute 10935 Weyburn Avenue
Los Angeles, 90024
$23,000Cosmetology, Esthetics
Blake Austin College611-K Orange Drive, Vacaville, 95687$33,400Esthetician, Cosmetology, Spa Nail Technician, Advanced Therapeutic Massage &
Bodywork Practitioner, MUD Make-up Artistry Classes & many more
Cinta Aveda Institute305 Kearny Street
San Francisco, 94108
$22,600Cosmetology, Barbering, Esthetics, Makeup, CIDESCO, & many more
Colleen O’Hara’s Beauty Academy109 West 4th Street
Santa Ana, 92701
$18,100Cosmetology, Esthetician, Advanced Esthetician, Barber, Barber Crossover, Makeup Artist
Cosmo Beauty Academy3500 Fulton Avenue, Sacramento, 95821$17,800Cosmetology, Esthetics, Manicuring
Designs School of Cosmetology2727 Buena Vista Drive, Suite 105
Paso Robles, 93446
$15,900Cosmetology, Esthetics, Make Up Classes
Estes Institute of Cosmetology324 East Main Street, Visalia, 93291$13,000Cosmetology, Manicuring/ Nail Course

1st Academy of Beauty – Rosemead
Academy of Beauty – Culver City
Academy of Esthetics & Cosmetology – San Fernando Valley
Adrian’s Beauty College of Tracy – Tracy
Adrian’s Beauty College of Turlock – Turlock
Advance Beauty College – Garden Grove
Advance Beauty College – Laguna Hills
Advance Beauty Techs Academy – Corona
Alhambra Beauty College – Alhambra
All About Looks – Ukiah Beauty College – Ukiah
American Beauty Academy – Brawley
American Beauty College – West Covina
American Institute of Education – Tustin
Amy Beauty School – Corona
Asel Beauty College – Garden Grove
Asian American International Beauty College – Westminster
Associated Barber College of San Diego – San Diego
Avance’ Beauty College – San Diego
Aveda Institute – Los Angeles
Bay Area Hair Institute – San Francisco
Bellflower Beauty College – Lakewood
Beyond 21st Century Beauty Academy – Santa Fe Springs
Blake Austin College – Vacaville
Bridges Academy of Beauty – 423 Eest Main Street, Barstow, CA 92311 -is committed to making its trainees the best they can be. The school meets or exceeds the training necessary to succesfully complete  the state licensing exams. Students can choose between programs focused on nail care, makeup artistry, salon ownership, or hair styling.  NOTE: this school may be closed.
Bridges Beauty College – Rancho Cucamonga, Victorville
Calaveras Cosmetology School – San Andreas
California Barber & Beauty College – San Diego
California Beauty College – Modesto
California College of Barbering and Cosmetology – Stockton
California Hair Design Academy – Chula Vista, La Mesa
California Vocational Cosmetology College – Fresno
Career Academy of Beauty – Garden Grove
Career Academy of Cosmetology – Stockton
Central Valley Barber College – Riverbank
Central Sierra ROP School of Cosmetology – El Dorado
Champion Institute of Cosmetology – Palm Springs
Chico Beauty College – Chico
Christine K Beauty School – San Jose
Cinta Aveda Institute – San Francisco
Citrus College, Cosmetology Department – Glendora
Citrus Heights Beauty College – Citrus Heights
Coachella Valley Beauty College – Beaumont, La Quinta
Coastline Beauty College – Fountain Valley
Coba Cosmetology Academy – Orange
Colleen O’Hara’s Beauty Academy – Santa Ana
College of San Mateo, Cosmetology Department – San Mateo
Cosmo Beauty Academy – Sacramento
Cosmotek College – San Jose
CR’U Institute of Cosmetology and Barbering – Garden Grove
David’s Academy of Beauty – Corona, Pico Rivera
Delta Beauty College – Antioch
Design’s School of Cosmetology – Paso Robles, Pleasanton
Diamond Beauty College – South El Monte
D’Lacreme School of Cosmetology and Barbering – Fairfield
Dublin Beauty College – Dublin
East Los Angeles Occupational Center – Los Angeles
East Los Angeles Skills Center – Los Angeles
El Camino College, Cosmetology Department – Torrance
El Prado Adult School, California Institute for Women – Corona
Elite Cosmetology School – Yucca Valley
Estes Institute of Cosmetology Arts & Sciences – Visalia
Evons Beauty College – Garden Grove
… this is just a partial list of beauty schools in California. You can find a complete list on the CA cosmetology board website.

Other California schools for nail technicians, estheticians, barbers and makeup artists.

Beauty Colleges & Schools State Listings

Canadian Provinces

Dist. of Columbia
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
West Virginia
British Columbia
New Brunswick
Nova Scotia
Prince Edward Island
Northwest Territories
Yukon – This schools has received great reviews from students! If you wish to get a thorough and ethical beauty training it is worth checking out and, if possible, booking a school tour. Built right into the schools mission statement is to create a positive and fun atmosphere – yay!

North Adrian’s Beauty College – Modesto

Palace Beauty College – Los Angeles

Salon Success Academy

Safavi Institute of Cosmetology and Esthetics – Modesto, San Bernardino, Santa Monica, Turlock, Upland

Did we miss any of the best cosmetology schools in California in this list? Please let us know.