How to Become a Cosmetologist in California

How to Become a Cosmetologist in California

Women often use to talk about different hair or nail styles and their experience with various cosmetologists.

Each of them who had a bad experience can tell you that which cosmetologist you will choose makes a big difference.

Each of us likes to feel good about the way we look gives you, which affects our self-esteem and confidence.

So, cosmetologists are there to do exactly that, to make people more attractive and buoyant.

Popular Programs

Job Description

The cosmetologists’ daily job is to make their customers more beautiful by giving them adequate services.

Those services can be either nail, hair or skin treatment which will change their physical appearance.

Cosmetologists can be focused on cutting, coloring and styling hair, while others might specialize in skincare or nails, but all of them have one goal, to fulfill the client’s desires related to beauty or to advise them what style would suit them best.

If the cosmetologist wants clients to be happy, they have to talk to them about what idea they have for their hair, nail or skin and to know how to give them what they want.

Whether clients will accept the given advice or not is up to them.

Cosmetology Programs in California

When it comes to certain knowledge related to beauty, all cosmetologists in California must first meet the licensing requirements of the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology before starting their career.

As they have to complete a cosmetology training program to become eligible for state licensing exams, they decide to choose those that take 9 to12 months to complete.

These programs are designed to give students a start on being full cosmetologists and provide them with valuable hours of training and experience.

Cosmetology students can enroll in cosmetology programs at a private school, community college, or a for-profit cosmetology program.

In California, the chosen program should be in a cosmetology school that has been approved by the Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE).

Some of them are:

  • American Beauty College School of Cosmetology & Barbering – Los Angeles.
  • Avalon School of Cosmetology – Alameda.
  • Aveda Institute – Los Angeles.
  • Bellus Academy – El Cajon.
  • California Beauty College – Modesto.

According to the law, the 1,600 hours of training are obligatory to qualify for a cosmetology license in California and what you will get acquainted with is hairdressing, curling, coloring, waving, massaging, using tonics, creams and lotions, cutting, coloring and manicuring the nails, as well as applying makeup and giving skincare

Upon the finishing of the program, you can get a certificate/diploma or an associate degree.

The required number of hours varies from specialty to specialty and they are: 

  • Cosmetology- 1600 hours
  • Barber- 1500 hours
  • Electrologist- 600 hours or 2-year apprenticeship
  • Esthetician- 600 hours
  • Manicurists- 600 hours

Another way of getting the appropriate training is via apprenticeship, which is a great thing for those who want to learn, train and earn some money at the same time, but you must agree with a salon owner.

California Apprenticeship Program has to be approved by the Department of Labor Relation, and you need to be registered with the California Apprenticeship Program.

Cosmetology apprenticeships can be full-time, two-year programs (3,200 hours), and you must receive instruction (at least 220 hours) in a classroom.

Other requirements are that you must be at least 16 years old, have completed the 10th grade, have a social security number and have a licensed trainer who is willing to train you.

Cosmetology Exams in California

A formal cosmetology program or an apprenticeship program allows you to apply for the license.

First, you should fill in and submit the Cosmetologist Examination Application if you are 17 years old and have completed the 10th grade.

It can take up to 12 weeks until your exam is scheduled.

The exam consists of a written and practical part, and the BBC uses the National Interstate Council of Board of Cosmetology (NIC) for it.

A practical examination can be done in Northern California (Fairfield) and Southern California (Glendale), while the written examination can be done in:

  • Anaheim
  • Bakersfield
  • Burbank
  • Fresno
  • Laguna Hills
  • Riverside
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • Ventura

The written examination has 100 test questions, and 120 minutes to complete it, while the practical examination lasts about 4 hours.

If you pass both examinations, you will be issued a license.

Keeping Your License Current in California

The law of California regulates the obligation of renewing your cosmetology license biennially in odd-numbered years.

No further education is necessary, the cost of renewal is $50 and it can be done through the Department of Consumer Affairs BreEZe online system.

But many licensed cosmetologist decide to continue their education by visiting seminars and cosmetics fairs to keep their skills and knowledge current as this is an ever-changing industry.

Average Annual Cosmetologist Salary in California

Because California is the center of the latest fashion and beauty trends, it is an ideal place for future cosmetologists.

They can open their salon or find jobs in numerous already opened salons and hotels.

There are abundant job opportunities and high salaries for cosmetologists in California as it has the third-highest employment level for cosmetologists in the US.

The job growth for cosmetologists and the constant need for new ones affect their annual salary.

The average salary is high, but at the same time, the variations among the major cities are significant.

It is reported that the annual salary in Visalia is just $ 25 991 while it is $ 32 880 in Daly City.

Annual Salary Range:
Annual Salary by Location:
Location Avg. Annual Salary
Anaheim,CA $29,162
Antioch,CA $29,870
Apple Valley,CA $27,682
Bakersfield,CA $28,026
Berkeley,CA $30,923
Burbank,CA $29,513
Carlsbad,CA $27,900
Carson,CA $29,096
Chico,CA $26,633
Chula Vista,CA $28,057
Coachella,CA $27,705
Concord,CA $29,321
Corona,CA $27,881
Costa Mesa,CA $29,096
Daly City,CA $32,880
Downey,CA $29,233
El Cajon,CA $27,973
El Monte,CA $29,482
Elk Grove,CA $28,376
Escondido,CA $27,900
Fairfield,CA $29,300
Fontana,CA $27,923
Fremont,CA $31,774
Fresno,CA $26,148
Fullerton,CA $29,162
Garden Grove,CA $29,162
Glendale,CA $29,513
Hayward,CA $30,871
Huntington Beach,CA $29,096
Inglewood,CA $29,513
Irvine,CA $29,096
Lancaster,CA $29,357
Lompoc,CA $27,217
Long Beach,CA $29,096
Los Angeles,CA $29,513
Modesto,CA $27,713
Monterey,CA $28,975
Moreno Valley,CA $27,902
Murrieta,CA $28,462
Newhall,CA $29,144
Norwalk,CA $29,124
Oakland,CA $30,923
Oceanside,CA $28,119
Ontario,CA $27,881
Orange,CA $29,096
Oxnard,CA $27,980
Palmdale,CA $29,318
Pasadena,CA $29,513
Petaluma,CA $29,357
Pomona,CA $29,099
Rancho Cucamonga,CA $27,783
Rialto,CA $27,800
Richmond,CA $31,041
Riverside,CA $27,923
Roseville,CA $28,345
Sacramento,CA $28,418
Salinas,CA $28,912
San Bernardino,CA $27,800
San Diego,CA $28,057
San Francisco,CA $32,880
San Jose,CA $31,836
Santa Ana,CA $29,122
Santa Barbara,CA $28,203
Santa Clara,CA $31,836
Santa Clarita,CA $29,095
Santa Cruz,CA $29,044
Santa Maria,CA $27,695
Santa Rosa,CA $28,496
Simi Valley,CA $28,617
Stockton,CA $27,975
Sunnyvale,CA $31,836
Temecula,CA $28,071
Thousand Oaks,CA $28,401
Torrance,CA $29,096
Vallejo,CA $29,383
Ventura,CA $27,980
Victorville,CA $27,694
Visalia,CA $25,991
West Covina,CA $29,099

Regional Salary in California

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Chico, CA60$38,540$18.53$49,320$29,120
Fresno, CA360$41,090$19.75$58,590$29,120
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA8,370$46,140$22.18$69,870$29,370
Merced, CA90$36,560$17.58$44,730$29,510
Modesto, CA340$44,650$21.47$64,370$29,790
Napa, CA60$41,480$19.94$62,660$30,180
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA470$40,380$19.41$59,500$29,120
Redding, CA90$37,810$18.18$55,620$29,120
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA2,120$41,140$19.78$60,070$29,330
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CA1,550$45,110$21.69$66,210$30,020
Salinas, CA170$41,990$20.19$60,380$30,100
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA2,580$45,490$21.87$72,850$29,770
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA3,120$48,550$23.34$75,360$30,610
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA1,760$43,660$20.99$62,140$34,380
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA150$44,510$21.4$59,430$29,360
Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA150$43,830$21.07$62,810$30,610
Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA200$41,280$19.85$59,050$29,420
Santa Rosa, CA230$44,900$21.59$62,800$31,490
Stockton-Lodi, CA280$40,430$19.44$57,730$29,490
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA210$43,790$21.05$61,960$31,050
Visalia-Porterville, CA90$40,040$19.25$56,510$29,120
Yuba City, CA50$37,210$17.89$46,450$29,390
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists, OCC Code 39-5012, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.


Determined by the California law, cosmetologist needs to possess classroom and on-the-job training achieved through an apprenticeship or school programs to become eligible for the state licensure.

It is a job that offers myriad job opportunities in California as it belongs to those states with the highest employment level for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists, as well as the top annual salaries.

So, if you possess great social skills ready to talk to and spend more than an hour working with each client, have business experience and artistic skills, this vocation is ideal for you.

And if your clients keep coming back to you then you have succeeded in this demanding field.

USA Cosmetology by State

One Comment
  1. Avatar for Miranda E Edwards Miranda E Edwards

    how would I be able to get a cosmetology license or is there a program I have to take to get a license.

Leave a Comment