Cosmetology Schools in California
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.
We researched all the cosmetology schools that California has to offer and found the cream of the crop. View our list of the best cosmetology schools in California.
Browse All Cosmetology Schools in California
For School Owners
Don't see your school listed? Want to discuss becoming a featured school in the directory? Contact us to learn more.
Chula Vista, CA 91911
1073 East Main Street
El Cajon, CA 92021
13266 Poway Road
Poway, CA 92064
1024 East March Lane
Stockton, CA 95210
72-840 Highway 111
Palm Desert, CA 92260
1679 East Monte Vista Avenue
Vacaville, CA 95688
2822 F Street Suite H
Bakersfield, CA 93301
731 West Shaw Avenue Suite A
Clovis, CA 93612
780 Loughborough Drive
Merced, CA 95348
75-030 Gerald Ford Drive Suite 203
Palm Desert, CA 92211
6500 South Mooney Boulevard
Visalia, CA 93277
16852 Devonshire Street
Granada Hills, CA 91344
3100 Mchenry Avenue
Modesto, CA 95350
Asian-American International Beauty College – Accredited
Westminster, CA 92683
California Barbering and Cosmetology Apprenticeship Learning Center
Sacramento, CA 95826
CRU Institute of Cosmetology and Barbering – Accredited
Garden Grove, CA 92845
International Academy of Cosmetology & Barbering – Accredited
South Gate, CA 90280
International College of Beauty Arts & Sciences – Accredited
Los Angeles, CA 90039
John C. Fremont High School (high school students only) – Accredited
Los Angeles, CA 90003
Moler Cosmetology College/Divsion of Moler Barber College – Accredited
Santa Clara, CA 95050
San Francisco Institute of Esthetics & Cosmetology Inc – Accredited
San Francisco, CA 94103
Sierra Vista Adult School (Central California Womenâ€™s Facility) – Accredited
Chowchilla, CA 93610
Sonora Union High School (high school students only) – Accredited
Sonora, CA 95370
Southern California Regional Occupational Center – Accredited
Torrance, CA 90501
The Brothers & Sisters BarberCosmo Academy – Accredited
Oakland, CA 94601
V.R. Professional Beauty Academy – Accredited
City of Industry, CA 91748
Valley State Adult School (Valley State Prison for Women) – Accredited
Chowchilla, CA 93610
You must attend a school that meets any licensure requirements as defined by your state. Most states require that you graduate from an accredited or state-approved school.
Find a Cosmetology School Near You
Check out the Cosmetology schools these cities in California have to offer.
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:
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
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:
What to Expect From a Cosmetology Apprenticeship in California
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:
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.
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
License renewal period
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
- 2420 Del Paso Road Suite 100, Sacramento, CA 94244
- Website: California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Call: 800-952-5210
- Fax: 916-575-7281
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.