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Beauty Schools in California with Course and Certificate Options

California has more than 140 colleges that offer beauty school certificate programs. Learn about the degree programs, tuition info and program options for the ten largest schools to make an informed education decision.

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Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Aesthetician and Skin Care
  • Barber and Hair Cutting Services
  • Beauty Salon Management
  • Cosmetology, Hair, and Nail Instructor
  • Electrolysis
  • Facial Treatment Specialist
  • Hair Design
  • Make-Up Artist
  • Nail Technician - Manicurist
  • Permanent Cosmetics and Tattooing

Essential Information

The cosmetology programs available to students in California are designed with a curriculum that meets the requirements for licensing from the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology (CBBC). These undergraduate certificate and degree programs feature coursework that focuses on basic and advanced skills in hair, skin and nail care. Students are prepared for a variety of professional careers including hair stylists, nail technicians, estheticians and salon operators.

Career Requirements

To become a cosmetologist in California, individuals must complete 1,600 hours of clocked training, while barbers need 1,500 hours. Estheticians and manicurists need a respective 600 and 400 hours to meet state licensing requirements. All of the following programs prepare students for the state licensing exam.


Cerritos College

Located in Norwalk, Cerritos College offers a Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology with curriculums designed for both full-time and part-time students. The college also offers a Certificate of Achievement in Esthetician, an Associate in Arts in Cosmetology and Associate in Arts in Esthetician; all of these programs prepare graduates for the state licensing examination. Daytime and evening classes are available for many of the programs.

  • Programs Offered: Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology,
    Certificate of Achievement in Esthetician,
    Associate in Arts in Cosmetology,
    Associate in Arts in Esthetician
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,340 in-state,
    $6,072 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; small city

El Camino Community College

This Torrance college offers multiple certificate programs in cosmetology. The Certificate of Accomplishment in Cosmetology Level I program focuses on providing students with basic skills for careers in cosmetology, while the Level II certificate program emphasizes the development of intermediate skills. At Level III, students complete practica and other cosmetology courses. An Associate in Science in Cosmetology program may also be earned, if general education classes are completed along with cosmetology courses. All of the programs combine classroom learning with laboratory time.

  • Programs Offered: Associate in Science in Cosmetology,
    Certificate of Accomplishment in Cosmetology Level I,
    Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology Level II,
    Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology Level III
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,142 in-state,
    $6,204 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; large suburb

Fullerton College

Students considering this Fullerton school can choose from a number of certificate or associate's degree programs. The cosmetology certificate program is comprised of five cosmetology courses, with course topics covering scalp treatments, press and curls, nail tip applications and thermal hair styling. The college also offers an esthetician certificate, which combines lecture and lab courses in training students for careers in skin care.

The Associate in Science in Cosmetology program emphasizes skin care techniques, hair removal, make-up application, nail care and hair treatments. For students who want to teach, Fullerton College also has an Associate in Science in Cosmetology Instructor program that includes courses in principles of selling, stage makeup, interpersonal communication and pivot point instruction.

  • Programs Offered: Cosmetology Certificate,
    Esthetician Certificate,
    Associate in Science in Cosmetology,
    Associate in Science in Cosmetology Instructor
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,138 in-state,
    $6,010 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; midsize city

Los Angeles Trade Technical College

Los Angeles-based Los Angeles Trade Technical College offers a certificate and an Associate in Arts in cosmetology. Both programs provide students with the skills and knowledge necessary for the state board examination. The program's curriculum trains students in various cosmetic procedures including make-up application, hair cutting and styling, skin care treatments and nail services.

  • Programs Offered: Certificate of Completion in Cosmetology,
    Associate in Arts in Cosmetology
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,220 in-state,
    $6,160 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; large city

Pasadena City College

Pasadena City College is located in Pasadena and features a Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology. This daytime program fulfills the 1,600 hours needed to take the state cosmetology licensure exam. Required coursework develops students' skills in hair styling and coloring, scalp treatments, make-up application and nail services. Licensed cosmetologists who are seeking careers as cosmetology instructors may pursue the Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology - Instructional Techniques in Cosmetology.

  • Programs Offered: Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology,
    Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology - Instructional Techniques in Cosmetology
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,152 in-state,
    $6,504 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; midsize city

Sacramento City College

The 1,600 hours of training to qualify for state licensure can be obtained through the Associate in Science in Cosmetology program at this Sacramento-based college. Along with highlighting hair, nail care and facial services, this degree program's curriculum also emphasizes the importance of client relationships and salon professionalism. Possible career opportunities for graduates include salon owners or managers, hair stylists or cosmetology educators. The college also offers a 3-semester Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology program.

Students interested in nail care services can pursue a Certificate of Achievement in Art and Science of Nail Technology. This 1-semester program includes 500 hours of training and provides preparation for the California State Examination in Manicuring. Coursework explores basic manicure and pedicure treatments, acrylic nails, nail art and design, salon professionalism and business strategies.

  • Programs Offered: Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology,
    Certificate of Achievement in Art and Science of Nail Technology,
    Associate in Science in Cosmetology
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,104 in-state,
    $7,200 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; large city

Saddleback College

Located in Mission Viejo, Saddleback College offers a Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology. Along with courses emphasizing public relations skills and salesmanship, the program also features hands-on lab experience in performing cosmetic procedures and treatments. The college also offers a 16-credit-hour Cosmetician Occupational Skills Award program, which educates students in skin care techniques and treatments, as well as product knowledge.

  • Programs Offered: Cosmetician Occupational Skills Award,
    Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $762 in-state,
    $4,694 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; large suburb

San Diego City College

Situated in San Diego, this public college has a certificate and associate's degree in cosmetology, as well as a certificate in esthetician. The cosmetology certificate program includes basic and advanced cosmetology courses, along with classes covering skin diseases, business practices, chemistry and state board review. The associate's degree program mirrors the certificate program's classes, but there are additional general education classes. The degree program provides extended learning experiences for students through visits to salons, guest speakers and training in industry standards and trends. Students graduating from this program will meet the 1,600-hour requirement and will be prepared for the state board certification exam.

Students may also opt to pursue a Certificate of Performance in Cosmetology Teacher Training. This program is available to students currently employed within the cosmetic industry who are seeking careers as cosmetology instructors. To be eligible for this program, students must have passed the state board certification exam and also possess at least three years of work experience as a cosmetologist.

  • Programs Offered: Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology,
    Certificate of Achievement in Esthetician,
    Certificate of Performance in Cosmetology Teacher Training,
    Associate in Science in Cosmetology
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,140 in-state,
    $5,532 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; large city

Santa Barbara City College

A variety of cosmetology-related programs are available at this Santa Barbara community college. The 5-module Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology program consists of introductory and advanced cosmetology classes, with topics such as facials, basic hair styling and makeup. For prospective estheticians, there are two Esthetician Skill Competency Award programs, which meet the state's 600 hours of training for licensure. The Level 1 certificate program focuses on basic skin care analysis and procedures, while the Level 2 program educates students on more advanced procedures and topics, such as chemical exfoliation and aromatherapy.

This college also has a manicurist certificate program made up of one 12-unit course discussing subjects like nail wraps, pedicures and acrylic nails. Students can also pursue an associate's degree in cosmetology, which meets the state's licensing requirement of 1,600 hours of training. This program teaches students about styling and coloring hair, makeup, facials and nail care services.

  • Programs Offered: Esthetician Skill Competency Award,
    Manicurist Skill Competency Award,
    Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology,
    Associate in Science in Cosmetology
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,374 in-state,
    $7,254 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; small city

Santa Monica College

Students enrolled in this Santa Monica college can earn certificates in cosmetology, salon business, nail care and skin care, as well as an Associate of Arts in Cosmetology. Approximately 37 units must be earned to receive the certificate in cosmetology, while 60 units are needed to obtain the associate's degree. Both programs feature coursework in hair cutting and styling, hair coloring, curly hair techniques, nail care and skin care. The nail care and skin care programs include classes in its respective fields, along with a salon management class. Courses such as marketing, bookkeeping and computers are covered in the salon business certificate program.

  • Programs Offered: Department Certificate in Skin Care,
    Department Certificate in Nail Care,
    Department Certificate in Salon Business,
    Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology,
    Associate of Arts in Cosmetology
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,140 in-state,
    $6,012 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; small city

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type & Setting Beauty Programs Offered Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013)
Cerritos College 2-year, public; small city Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology,
Certificate of Achievement in Esthetician,
Associate in Arts in Cosmetology,
Associate in Arts in Esthetician
$1,340 in-state,
$6,072 out-of-state*
El Camino Community College 2-year, public; large suburb Associate in Science in Cosmetology,
Certificate of Accomplishment in Cosmetology Level I,
Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology Level II,
Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology Level III
$1,142 in-state,
$6,204 out-of-state*
Fullerton College 2-year, public; midsize city Cosmetology Certificate,
Esthetician Certificate,
Associate in Science in Cosmetology,
Associate in Science in Cosmetology Instructor
$1,138 in-state,
$6,010 out-of-state*
Los Angeles Trade Technical College 2-year, public; large city Certificate of Completion in Cosmetology,
Associate in Arts in Cosmetology
$1,220 in-state,
$6,160 out-of-state*
Pasadena City College 2-year, public; midsize city Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology,
Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology - Instructional Techniques in Cosmetology
$1,152 in-state,
$6,504 out-of-state*
Sacramento City College 2-year, public; large city Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology,
Certificate of Achievement in Art and Science of Nail Technology,
Associate in Science in Cosmetology
$1,104 in-state,
$7,200 out-of-state*
Saddleback College 2-year, public; large suburb Cosmetician Occupational Skills Award,
Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology
$762 in-state,
$4,694 out-of-state*
San Diego City College 2-year, public; large city Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology,
Certificate of Achievement in Esthetician,
Certificate of Performance in Cosmetology Teacher Training,
Associate in Science in Cosmetology
$1,140 in-state,
$5,532 out-of-state*
Santa Barbara City College 2-year, public; small city Esthetician Skill Competency Award,
Manicurist Skill Competency Award,
Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology,
Associate in Science in Cosmetology
$1,374 in-state,
$7,254 out-of-state*
Santa Monica College 2-year, public; small city Department Certificate in Skin Care,
Department Certificate in Nail Care,
Department Certificate in Salon Business,
Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology,
Associate of Arts in Cosmetology
$1,140 in-state,
$6,012 out-of-state*

Source: *NCES College Navigator

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