Cosmetology Schools in California | Beauty Schools Directory

California may be the perfect place to learn to become a cosmetologist and begin your career. According to a 2019 study, California is the 8th most beauty-obsessed state in the U.S.—good news for budding cosmetologists.

Browse our directory of cosmetology schools in California, or skip ahead to learn about the state’s cosmetology licensing requirements and job outlook.

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970 Broadway
Chula Vista, CA 91911

Bellus Academy | Chula Vista | San Diego


Cosmetology, Esthetics, Nail Technology, Makeup Artistry, Barbering

1073 East Main Street
El Cajon, CA 92021

Bellus Academy | El Cajon | San Diego


Barbering, Cosmetology, Esthetics, Makeup Artistry

13266 Poway Road
Poway, CA 92064

Bellus Academy | Poway | San Diego


Barbering, Cosmetology, Esthetics, Makeup Artistry, Nail Technology

1024 East March Lane
Stockton, CA 95210

California College of Barbering and Cosmetology | Stockton | San Francisco / Oakland / San Jose


Barbering, Cosmetology, Esthetics, Nail Technology

72-840 Highway 111
Palm Desert, CA 92260

Elite Cosmetology School | Palm Desert | Los Angeles


Barbering, Cosmetology, Esthetics

1679 East Monte Vista Avenue
Vacaville, CA 95688

Milan Institute of Cosmetology | Vacaville | Sacramento / Stockton / Modesto


Barbering, Cosmetology, Esthetics

2822 F Street
Bakersfield, CA 93301

Milan Institute | Bakersfield | Bakersfield


Cosmetology, Esthetics, Nail Technology, Massage Therapy, Barbering

731 West Shaw Avenue
Clovis, CA 93612

Milan Institute | Clovis | Fresno / Visalia


Barbering, Cosmetology, Esthetics, Massage Therapy, Nail Technology

780 Loughborough Drive
Merced, CA 95348

Milan Institute | Merced | Fresno / Visalia


Barbering, Cosmetology, Esthetics, Nail Technology

75-030 Gerald Ford Drive
Palm Desert, CA 92211

Milan Institute | Palm Desert | San Diego


Cosmetology, Esthetics, Nail Technology, Massage Therapy, Barbering

6500 South Mooney Boulevard
Visalia, CA 93277

Milan Institute | Visalia | Fresno / Visalia


Cosmetology, Esthetics, Massage Therapy

16852 Devonshire Street
Granada Hills, CA 91344

Newberry School of Beauty | Granada Hills | Los Angeles


Barbering, Cosmetology, Esthetics

3100 Mchenry Avenue
Modesto, CA 95350

Paul Mitchell | Modesto | Sacramento / Stockton / Modesto


Cosmetology, Esthetics, Nail Technology, Barbering


Find Cosmetology Schools Near You

Bay Vista

1520 East Plaza Boulevard
National City, CA 91950

Butte College – Accredited

3536 Butte Campus Drive
Oroville, CA 95965

Citrus College – Accredited

1000 West Foothill Boulevard
Glendora, CA 91741

Coba Academy – Accredited

663 North Euclid Street
Anaheim, CA 92801

Compton College – Accredited

1111 East Artesia Boulevard
Compton, CA 90221

KZ Academy

1221 East Calaveras Boulevard
Milpitas, CA 95035

Lu Ross Academy – Accredited

470 East Thompson Boulevard
Ventura, CA 93001

Paul Mitchell – Accredited

3309 Hyland Avenue
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Paul Mitchell – Accredited

5091 North Fresno Street
Fresno, CA 93710

Paul Mitchell – Accredited

825 East Green Street
Pasadena, CA 91101

Paul Mitchell – Accredited

100 Crescent Drive
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523

Paul Mitchell – Accredited

15301 Ventura Boulevard
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403

Paul Mitchell – Accredited

12047 Donner Pass Road
Truckee, CA 96161

RTC College – Accredited

10427 San Sevaine Way
Jurupa Valley, CA 91752

Vanity Pro

18821 Delaware Street
Huntington Beach, CA 92648

ZMS The Academy – Accredited

2228 East Cesar E. Chavez Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90042

Accredited School

You must attend school in the state you want to practice in. Most states require that you graduate from an accredited school. Learn more about the requirements in your state.

Find a Cosmetology School Near You

Check out the Cosmetology schools these cities in California have to offer.

Best Cosmetology Schools in California Metro Areas

We’ve ranked the top cosmetology schools in metro areas within or near California to help you find your perfect fit.

How to Become a Cosmetologist in California

  • 1,000 education hours or 3,200 apprentice hours are required to become licensed.
  • You must renew your license every 2 years.
  • 0 continuing education hours are required to renew your license.
  • The average salary for cosmetologists in California is $38,790.
  • There is a predicted 7% job increase between 2018–2028 for cosmetologists.

To become a cosmetologist in California, you must meet certain standards:

1. Be at least 17 years old and have completed 10th grade or its equivalent.

2. Be honest on the exam application about any criminal record—a criminal record doesn’t necessarily bar you from licensure or employment

3. Demonstrate any one of the following:

  • Completion of a state-approved cosmetology program
  • An unrestricted license in good standing from another state
  • Licensed cosmetology experience in another state for at least the length of a state-approved cosmetology program—three months of work equals 100 hours of training
  • Completion of an approved cosmetology crossover course if currently licensed as a barber
  • Completion of an apprenticeship that meets state standards

You may not mix and match the pathways to becoming a cosmetologist in California—for example, by beginning as a traditional student and finishing your program as an apprentice. You must choose one option or the other. However, students may participate in externship programs, allowing them to work in a salon without pay to earn the required hours.

In addition to performing cosmetology services, you must be comfortable acting as a mandatory reporter. Mandatory reporters are legally required to report suspicions of physical or sexual abuse to the proper authorities. You’ll be trained in recognizing the signs of abuse by your school or apprenticeship program.

What to Expect From a Cosmetology Program in California

1,000 Hours

Time to complete a cosmetology program in California

If you are interested in pursuing your cosmetology training through a traditional program, you have many schools to choose from. Effective January 2022, California reduced required training hours for cosmetologists from 1,600 to 1,000, so many beauty schools are still adjusting and may offer either option.

Before enrolling, ensure your school is approved by the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology. Board requirements include having enough space for at least 25 students, enrollment of at least 25 students, and a curriculum that meets the state standards. The school can’t have a history of unprofessional conduct, such as refusing inspections or noncompliance with requirements.

Your training must consist of a minimum of 1,000 hours of both practical and scientific instruction, including, but not limited to:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Chemistry of cosmetology products
  • Hair cutting and dyeing
  • Hair perming and relaxing
  • Hair removal (except by use of light waves/rays)
  • Health and safety
  • Makeup design and application
  • Manicuring
  • Basic massage
  • Optional specialty classes, like threading and natural hair braiding

What to Expect From a Cosmetology Apprenticeship in California

3,200 Hours

Time to complete a cosmetology apprenticeship in California

To apprentice as a cosmetologist in California, you need to ensure your program meets specific standards—so verify them before you begin:

  • The location in which you’ll be apprenticing must be licensed.
  • Your trainer needs to be a licensed cosmetologist who has been approved to train by the board.
  • Your instruction must cover all the topics included in a cosmetology program.
  • You must be paid at a graduated rate, but they don’t have to pay you for instruction-only time.
  • You can only practice on members of the public if you’ve been trained in the techniques you’ll be using.
  • Your training must last a minimum of 3,200 hours over no more than two years and include the following:
    • 39 hours of pre-apprenticeship training on laws and regulations, patron protection, and sanitation and disinfection
    • 220 hours of direct instruction
    • No more than 8.5 hours per day and 42.5 hours of work and training per week—anything beyond this won’t count

California Cosmetology Licensing Requirements

California also dropped its practical exam requirement in 2022, so applicants only need to pass a theory test, administered by PSI. Once you’ve completed your training or apprenticeship hours, you can apply to take the written exam.

After applying to take the examination and getting approved by the state board, you’ll receive the PSI candidate handbook and can schedule your test.

Tests are available in English, Korean, Spanish, and Vietnamese. If the test is not available in your language and you don’t speak, read, or write English at a minimum of a 10th grade level, you can request to use an interpreter.

The 120-minute theory test contains 110 questions on Scientific Concepts (30%), Hair Care and Services (40%), Skin Care and Services (15%), and Nail Care and Services (15%). You won’t be allowed to have any electronics or notes with you during the test. The board provides sample questions on their theory examination information page.

As of 2022, the exam and license fee is $125 total, and you’ll need to be able to go to one of the state’s 20 test locations.

If you pass your test, you’ll receive a photographic license onsite. If you fail, you’ll get information on your score, a breakdown of all the content areas, and how many correct answers you need to pass.

Licensure Reciprocity

California allows cosmetologists moving from other states to become licensed without taking the test if they have a current active license that’s in good standing with no disciplinary action or criminal convictions on record. Contact the state board if you have questions about your status.

Cosmetology Specializations in California

California allows cosmetologists to receive additional training in a few different areas. If you’re truly passionate about one of these fields as opposed to cosmetology as a whole, you could also choose to earn licensure in one of them instead. Specializations include:

You can also take optional specialty classes while in school to expand your knowledge and abilities, but those areas don’t require specific additional certifications.

Cosmetology License Renewal in California

2 Years

License renewal period

0 Hours

Continuing education required

California requires cosmetologists to renew their licenses every two years, and there are no continuing education requirements. However, if your license hasn’t been renewed for five years, you’ll need to pass the test again before it’s reissued.

Cosmetology Salary in California and Projected Job Growth


Average yearly salary for cosmetologists in California

The average salary for cosmetologists in California is $38,790 ($18.65/hour). If you’re able to make it into the very competitive world of theatrical makeup, it goes up to $136,340 ($65.55).

California employs the third highest number cosmetologists in the country. And this is expected to grow—in fact, the state anticipates there will be 7% more cosmetology jobs available between 2018 and 2028.

Contact the California State Board of Cosmetology

Resources for Cosmetologists in California

California State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology
This is the official state board page regarding all cosmetology laws, regulations, and updates. You can apply for your licensure exams, research programs, and file complaints through their site. They also have an active Facebook page that includes both important information and fun articles.

Professional Beauty Federation of California
Similar to a union, the PBFC advocates for laws and regulations that will make the industry safer, with input from members. They organize a yearly “Welcome to Our World (W.O.W.)” event, at which lawmakers and their staff receive free treatments by volunteers in order while discussing concerns. You can stay up to date on their actions on their Facebook page.

Stylist & Salon Newspapers—California
This publication offers a free digital subscription and covers all manner of topics affecting California cosmetologists. They also keep a running list of upcoming cosmetology events throughout the country.

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