Cosmetology Schools in Southern California with Program Info

Jul 19, 2019

There are more than ten schools within Southern California that have cosmetology programs. Read an overview of ten of the largest schools' programs, requirements and tuition info and find out which school is the right one for you.

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Essential Information

Commonly, cosmetology programs are offered at the undergraduate certificate level as general programs, which can range from 37-50 credits. Specialized certificates for aspiring estheticians or cosmetology instructors are also available and may only require students to complete 12-20 credit hours of coursework. However, only licensed cosmetologists are accepted into cosmetology instructor programs. Associate degree programs in cosmetology, which take about two years to complete, are also available.

Career Requirements

To become a cosmetologist in California, students need to earn state licensure by passing practical and written examinations. Students can qualify to take cosmetology-related California licensure exams by completing the minimum number of training hours. Cosmetologists need to participate in 1,600 hours, estheticians must have 600 hours, and manicurists need to meet a 400-hour requirement. The following programs allow students to meet the requirements needed to take cosmetology-related state board examinations through in-class and hands-on training.


Cerritos College

Cerritos College is located in Norwalk. The cosmetology certificate program consists of 58.5 units, the esthetician certificate program has 20 units, and 60 units are needed to earn an associate's degree in either subject. The cosmetology programs educate participants in hair care, pedicure techniques, skin care and manicure techniques. Courses in the esthetician programs cover massages, common skin problem treatments, skin analysis, make-up and facials. Students who wish to earn an associate's degree are required to complete general education requirements in addition to all courses in the respective certificate program.

El Camino Community College

Located in Torrance, El Camino Community College offers cosmetology certificate and associate's degree programs. Both programs cover equipment use, sanitation procedures, nail and hair care, facials and safety practices. Associate's degree students also take general education courses. The certificate program can be finished with 37-46.5 units, and the associate's degree program consists of 60 units.

Fullerton College

Fullerton's Fullerton College offers esthetician and cosmetology certificate programs, along with cosmetology and cosmetology instructor associate's degree programs. The 20-unit esthetician certificate program covers hair removal, facial massage and treatments, skin analysis, make-up techniques, safety and sanitation. The 50-unit cosmetology certificate program develops skills in acrylic nail application, hair treatments, make-up application, nail treatments and hair sculpting. The associate's program requires at least 60 units and includes the same courses found in the certificate program as well as general education courses. Licensed cosmetologists enrolled in the 60-unit cosmetology instructor associate's degree program learn how to teach future cosmetologists or estheticians professional skills in the field.

Los Angeles Trade Technical College

Los Angeles Trade Technical College is found in the heart of downtown Los Angeles and has cosmetology certificate and associate's degree programs. The 48-unit cosmetology certificate program has coursework covering salon training, skin care, make-up application, hair treatments, pedicures and manicures. The associate's degree program requires the same courses found in the certificate program and general education courses to fulfill the 66-unit requirement.

Pasadena City College

Pasadena City College in Pasadena has a 44-unit cosmetology certificate program. Topics include hair coloring, facials, manicuring techniques, scalp treatments, hair styling, make-up and sanitation procedures. Licensed cosmetologists interested in teaching can enroll in this school's 20-unit cosmetology instructor certificate program.

Riverside City College

At Riverside's Riverside City College, prospective students can enroll in a 17-unit esthetician certificate program, a 47.5-unit cosmetology certificate program or a 60-unit cosmetology associate's degree program. The esthetician program helps students learn about safety and sanitation, hair removal, facials, make-up, artificial eyelashes and hazardous chemical use. Students in either cosmetology program are trained in manicures, pedicures, hairdressing trends, acrylic nail application and salon concepts. Additional general education courses are required for the associate's degree program. Graduates of the cosmetology program and those who are already licensed cosmetologists have the option to earn a certificate or associate's degree in cosmetology business administration. A 15-unit certificate program is also offered for licensed cosmetologists who aspire to teach.

Saddleback College

Saddleback College, located in Mission Viejo, provides a 16-unit cosmetician occupational skills award program and a 48-unit cosmetology certificate program. The cosmetician program trains students in eyebrow arching, facials, skin care, make-up and hair removal. Cosmetology certificate program participants encounter topics in grooming techniques, public relations, personal hygiene, salesmanship and reception practices.

San Diego City College

San Diego City College in San Diego offers several programs for future cosmetologists, including an 18-unit esthetician certificate program, a 42-unit cosmetology certificate program and a 60-unit cosmetology associate's degree program. A 12-unit cosmetology teacher training program is also available for experienced cosmetologists who possess state licensure. The esthetician program provides training in spa therapies, Ayurveda theory, skin health, aromatherapy, medical esthetics and skin care products. The cosmetology certificate and associate's degree programs cover topics in chemical services, cosmetology regulations, skin diseases, manicures and pedicures, hair styling, artificial nails and hair coloring. Students completing the associate's degree program are also required to pass general education courses.

Santa Barbara City College

Prospective students can find three 12-unit skills competency award programs, a 60-unit cosmetology certificate program and a 78-unit cosmetology associate's degree program at Santa Barbara City College in Santa Barbara. Skills competency award programs are available in basic and advanced esthetician techniques, as well as manicure training. The cosmetology programs feature topics in skin care regimens, hair styling, corrective make-up, manicuring techniques, facials, salon treatments and pedicures. Students in the associate's degree program must also fulfill general education requirements.

Santa Monica College

Santa Monica-based Santa Monica College offers nail care, skin care and cosmetology certificate programs, as well as a cosmetology associate's degree program. Depending on the certificate program, students can learn about facials, haircutting and hairstyling, make-up, acrylic nails, pedicures, hair treatments, hair coloring, waxing and manicures. In addition to the courses found in the certificate programs, associate's degree students must pass general education courses to meet the 60-unit requirement.

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type and Setting Cosmetology Programs Offered Undergraduate Tuition and Fees (2018-2019)
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
$1,346 for CA residents; $8,710 for out-of-state residents*
El Camino Community College 2-year, public; large suburb Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology,
Associate in Science in Cosmetology
$1,144 for CA residents; $6,520 for out-of-state residents*
Fullerton College 2-year, public; midsize city Certificate in Cosmetology,
Certificate in Esthetician,
Associate in Science in Cosmetology,
Associate in Science in Cosmetology Instructor
$1,138 for CA residents; $6,010 for out-of-state residents*
Los Angeles Trade Technical College 2-year, public; large city Certificate of Completion in Cosmetology,
Associate in Arts in Cosmetology
$1,220 for CA residents; $7,746 for out-of-state residents*
Pasadena City College 2-year, public; midsize city Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology,
Certificate of Achievement in Instructional Techniques in Cosmetology
$1,166 for CA residents; $7,548 for out-of-state residents*
Riverside City College 2-year, public; large city Certificate in Cosmetology,
Certificate in Cosmetology Business Administration,
Certificate in Esthetician,
Associate in Science in Cosmetology,
Associate in Science in Cosmetology Business Administration,
Certificate in Cosmetology Instructor Training
$1,420 for CA residents; $9,160 for out-of-state residents*
Saddleback College 2-year, public; large suburb Occupational Skills Award in Cosmetician,
Certificate in Cosmetology
$1,328 for CA residents; $9,392 for out-of-state residents*
San Diego City College 2-year, public; large city Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology,
Certificate of Achievement in Esthetician,
Associate in Science in Cosmetology,
Certificate of Performance in Cosmetology Teacher Training
$1,144 for CA residents; $7,024 for out-of-state residents*
Santa Barbara City College 2-year, public; small city Skills Competency Award in Esthetician, Level 1,
Skills Competency Award in Esthetician, Level 2,
Skills Competency Award in Manicure,
Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology,
Associate in Science in Cosmetology
$1,374 for CA residents; $8,326 for out-of-state residents*
Santa Monica College 2-year, public; small city Department Certificate in Nail Care,
Department Certificate in Skin Care,
Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology,
Associate of Arts in Cosmetology
$1,142 for CA residents; $8,918 for out-of-state residents*

Source: *NCES College Navigator

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