California has a lot of nail tech schools. This reflects the demand from the general population for beauty services. There is nothing like sitting and getting pampered with a manicure for a good half hour or hour. Since becoming a nail tech is relatively easy compared to a full cosmetology course, it is often the first entry for many people into the beauty industry.

San Francisco has several nail schools
San Francisco skyline by Danjahner at en.wikipedia [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Cosmetology School or Nail School? Your Choice

When you complete a program that has been established and approved by the Board, you will be on your way to becoming a licensed manicurist. Many of these programs can be completed at various cosmetology schools. In California, you will also be able to complete a program at one of many dedicated nail technology schools. Nowadays online nail classes are also a thing.

How Long Does Nail Training Take In CA?

A typical program will consist of at least 400 hours of both hands-on training and technical instruction.

Instruction in this kind of program will include classes such as:

  • manicures/pedicures
  • training/instruction in nail care
  • laws/regulations
  • health/safety
  • sanitation/disinfection
  • anatomy/physiology/bacteriology

Additionally, you will be provided training in things such as sales, professional ethics, decorum, tool use, and more. Use your ZIP in our app below to find a school nearby:

The Manicurist Licensing Process in CA

After you successfully complete a Board-accredited program, you will then be required to complete and submit the Manicurist Application for Examination and Initial License. This can be done either on paper or online. (See the board website for fees). Typically, it takes around 12 weeks for this application to be processed. At that time you will also receive a scheduling letter from the board regarding your licensing examinations.


The license examination in California consists of a practical and a written exam. Both are given by the National Interstate Council of Board of Cosmetology. The exams can be taken during the same day at one of the Board’s permanent testing sites.

The written exam contains 100 questions and you have two hours to complete it. If you pass it, you will be issued a California Manicurist License, which must be renewed biennially, but has no continuing ed requirement.

Examples of Nail Tech Schools in California With Costs

NameAddressCostOther Programs
Western Beauty Institute6453 Van Nuys Boulevard, Van Nuys, 91401$3,300Barbering Arts, Cosmetology, Esthetics, Cosmetology Crossover, Barber Crossover
Thanh Le College School of Cosmetology12875 Chapman Avenue, Garden Grove, 92840Tuition and fees: $800Cosmetology
International School of Beauty 72-261 Highway 111 Suite 121-B
Palm Desert, 92260
$4,000Cosmetology, Massage Therapy, Barber, Esthetics
Palace Beauty College1517 South Western Avenue, Los Angeles, 90006$2,100Cosmetology, Esthetician, Massage Therapy, Barbering
Asian-American International Beauty College7871 Westminster Boulevard, Westminster, 92683$4,000Cosmetology, Esthetician
Royale College of Beauty27485 Commerce Center Drive, Temecula, 92590$4,800Cosmetology, Barbering, Esthetician
Palomar Institute of Cosmetology355 Via Vera Cruz, San Marcos, 92078$4,350Cosmetology, Esthetics
San Bernardino Beauty College600 North Sierra Way
San Bernardino, 92410
$3,600Massage Therapist
Lu Ross Academy470 East Thompson Boulevard, Ventura, 93001$7,000Cosmetology, Aesthetician, Make Up Artist, Barbering, Barber Crossover
Redondo Beach Beauty College2205 Artesia Boulevard, Redondo Beach, 90278$4,200Cosmetology, Barbering, Esthetician

Bridges Academy of Beauty – Barstow

Canyon Country Beauty College – Canyon Country

Dublin Beauty College – Dublin, CA

Vogue Beauty Academy – Crescent City

Image School of Cosmetology – Desert Hot Springs

DeLoux Cosmetology – Fairfield

Manchester Beauty College – Fresno

Fremont Beauty College – Fremont, CA

International School of Cosmetology, Inc. – Hawthorne

Bellflower Adult School of Cosmetology – Lakewood

Dior School of Cosmetology – Manteca

Dior School of Cosmetology – Modesto

Vintage Academy of Hair Design – Napa

World Vision College of Cosmetology – Oakland

The Beauty World – Oakland

Pomona Cosmetology School – Pomona

Mixed Institute of Cosmetology – Sacramento 403

Bellus Academy- South San Diego County Campus – National City, Poway, CA

Calaveras School of Cosmetology Rop – San Andreas

Jerrylee Beauty College – Roseville

Zenzi’s Cosmetology Training Center for Hair, Skin, Makeup & Nails – San Francisco

Trinh College – San Jose

Flavio Beauty College Inc – Torrance

Cosmetologist’s Academy of Beauty and Design – Turlock

United Beauty College – South El Monte

Dior School of Cosmetology – Turlock

Ukiah Beauty College – Ukiah

Elite Cosmetology School – Yucca Valley

Marinello Schools of Beauty – located in many cities but now CLOSED permanently

Other California schools for barbers, estheticians, cosmetologists and makeup artists.

study to be a nail tech in a place where you can see the hollywood sign
Photo by raindog808 [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
School websites:

Any nail academies in California missing from this directory? Please use our contact form to let us know.