The 10 Best Cosmetology Programs In The United States

Every year talented young people and older adults alike search for a career where they can express themselves while making money at the same time. For many, becoming a cosmetologist is the answer to their search for a marvelous career full of showcasing talent.

But what are the 10 best cosmetology programs in the United States? The best programs for becoming a cosmetologist are as follows:

  • The Aveda Institute
  • Empire Beauty School
  • The Sassoon Academy
  • Tricoci University
  • Paul Mitchell Schools
  • The Ogle School
  • Xenon International Academy
  • Pivot Point Academy Beauty School
  • The Hair Design Institute
  • Hollywood Institute of Beauty

(Source: Successful Student)

The Aveda Institute

Founded by Horst Rechelbacher in 1977, the Aveda Institute, in West Chester, Ohio, fosters a holistic belief “that individual beauty is directly linked to the beauty of the world around us.” To accomplish this goal, the institute uses the Indian tradition of Ayurveda as its influence.

To follow this tradition, the Aveda Institute created organic botanical products to benefit the earth and the consumer. The Aveda Institute immerses its students in the comprehensive approach in its program in almost sixty cities in the United States.

While entry requirements, fees, and credit for graduation vary with location, students are guaranteed a hands-on educational experience offering the basics in cosmetology up their advanced program.

Tuition and fees for those students living with a roommate or alone run $19,150, cost of books $2,700, room and board $10,538 with other expenses running $5,552. These figures make students living off-campus a total bill for the school at $37,190 to complete a degree. However, students choosing to live off-campus pay the same charges minus the room and board with their total costs running $26,065.

Empire Beauty School

Founded in 1934 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, with only one location, the Empire Beauty School now boasts more than 109 schools across the United States. Accredited by the National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences, and with eighty years of experience in teaching and guiding, students receive a cutting-edge, professional education.

The cosmetology program at Empire Beauty School covers many topics, including:

  • Hair Design and Cutting
  • Coloring
  • Basic Skin Care
  • Makeup
  • Texturing
  • Business Training
  • Retail Training

While the above training covers the basics, Empire Beauty School also offers particularly important advanced classes in esthetics, Cosmetology Educator Training and Make-up Artistry.

The tuition and fees for Empire Beauty School are $16,200 for undergraduates.

The Sassoon Academy

Looking for a program that does not require prior knowledge about cosmetology? Then search no more because the Sassoon Academy, located in Santa Monica, California, offers a detailed program geared towards beginners.

The program runs for forty-four weeks covering 1600 hours of course work and experience working hands-on. Already included in the tuition for the academy program are:

  • A State Board Student Beauty Kit
  • Mannequins
  • A Curling Iron
  • A Make-Up Kit
  • A Wax Kit
  • The Milday Cosmetology Textbook

Students are required to purchase costing more than $1,500, including:

  • A Professional Student Beauty Kit
  • Manuals
  • A Hair Dryer
  • Brushes
  • Combs
  • Clips

For those who are already employed as a Cosmetologist and wish to add to their skills, the Sassoon Beauty Academy offers four to six-week-long classes that qualify students for an Intensive or Comprehensive Diploma.

The tuition and fees for the Sassoon Academy cost $20,000, with the additional cost of $2,426 for a student professional kit.

Tricoci University

Mario Tricoci and his brother Franco Tricoci worked in other people’s salons in the 1950s but in the 1970s opened their own salon business. Because they became globally recognized, Mario Tricoci turned his desire to train beauticians and opened the Tricoci University in 2004.

Accredited by the National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences, Tricoci University offers a 1,500-hour cosmetology program. The program runs either twelve or twenty months to completion with students choosing to attend full or part-time.

Included with tuition include an Apple iPad in a starter kit.

Course topics include:

  • Practical chemical application
  • Hair treatment
  • Shop management
  • Esthetics
  • Hairdressing
  • Hairstyling
  • Esthetics
  • Nail technology

The tuition for Tricoci University located in Chicago cost of tuition and fees is $19,982 in the 2018-19 academic year. Books and supplies run around $3,120. Other programs located in other U.S. cities have a typical cost to students living off-campus of $41,065.

Paul Mitchell Schools

Headquartered in Orlando, Florida, Paul Mitchell is a well-known and established the school in the professional hair product world. Founded by Paul Mitchell and Paul DeJoria, their system includes more than one hundred beauty products available all over the globe.

Paul Mitchell Schools offer a variety of topics from style finishing, foil work, texture, manicure, pedicure, and makeup.

Recognized in 1980 as one of the first cosmetology companies to protest animal testing, the school employs several well-known instructors and alumni include Scott Cole, Diana Schmidtke, and Craig “The Barber.”

The base tuition and fees for Paul Mitchell Schools cost $17,184 with books and supplies, including the Paul Mitchell Kit run $2,691 annually.

The Ogle School

The Ogle School was named after internationally known hairstylist and founder Shelton Ogle. Since 1973, The Ogle School has successfully educated beauticians in eight locations in Texas, where students work with actual clients in the on-campus student-run salons.

Supervised by their instructors, students offer inexpensive services giving them opportunities to highlight their talent. Courses are offered several various times, including:

  • Daytime
  • Evening
  • Part-time
  • Full-time

After graduation, students can utilize the school’s job placement and career assistance program.

Tuition for the Ogle School costs in the 2018-19 academic year $16,950, and costs for purchasing books and supplies run around $2,960. For students living off-campus, the total cost of attendance is $40,190.

Xenon International Academy

To provide quality education to beauticians, Xenon partnered with Peels Salon Services forming the Xenon International Academy. With three locations around the United States, the institution is rapidly growing and offers a comprehensive, well-rounded education to give its students competitive skills in the world of cosmetology.

The cosmetology program at Xenon International Academy is divided into six subject modules with a four-phase focus on each section.

  • Discovery
  • Experience
  • Create
  • Imagine

The courses at the academy include”:

  • The Designer’s Approach to Sculpture
  • Hair Design
  • Color
  • Texture
  • Salon Success

Books include Cosmetology Fundamentals Textbook and are included in the student’s kit. Tuition and fees for the 2018-19 academic year are $17,300, with the typical cost for purchasing books and supplies running $2,001. The total cost for students living off-campus is $45,019.

Pivot Point Academy Beauty School

Founded in 1962 by the late Leo Passage, a well-respected hairstylist and cosmetology educator who has won more than 100 international awards and honors, is Pivot Point Academy Beauty School located in Chicago, Illinois.

The school is now run by Leo Passage’s son, Robert Passage, and the program offers thirteen areas of study with 106 theory lessons and 68 workshops. Within the curriculum, there are six subject models to choose from:

  • Cosmetology
  • Fundamentals
  • Sculpture
  • Hair Design
  • Color
  • Texture
  • Salon Success and Meta
  • Barbering

Pivot Point Academy Beauty School also offers a digital platform that is entitled LAB (Learn About Beauty) that is both interactive and enjoyable for students.

Pivot Point Academy Beauty Schools are centered in more than one-hundred cities throughout the United States and has become the most taught curriculum available in more than 2,000 institutions, across 70 countries and in 15 languages across the globe.

The cost of tuition and fees for Pivot Point Academy Beauty Schools is $18,393 for undergraduates per year.

The Hair Design Institute

The Hair Design Institute is part of the Next Generation of Beauty Education Network of schools (NEXEDGEN) and located in two locations, one in Florida the other in New York. Requirements for certification are 1,000 or 1,200 class hours, depending on the certification being sought.

Topics of study include:

  • Sanitation and Sterilization
  • Scalp Treatments
  • Chemistry
  • Hair Analysis
  • Permanent Waving
  • Salon Management

Students can take classes full or part-time, evenings, or days, depending on their needs. Professional cosmetologists may also attend to increase their skills. Upon successful completion of the program, the institute helps with assistance in finding job placement.

Tuition for the Hair Design Institute costs, on average, $19,860 per academic year.

Hollywood Institute of Beauty

Located in three locations in the United States, the Hollywood Institute of Beauty offers various fields of interest to blossoming beauticians including:

  • Barbering
  • Esthetics
  • Nail technology
  • Massage therapy
  • Skincare
  • Cosmetology

Certification requirements at the Hollywood Institute of Beauty require 1,200 class hours, and full-time day students can complete in around ten months. Evening classes take a little longer, seventeen months.

Classes are available in Spanish as well as English, and the students are expected to complete an additional 500 hours in the classroom with 700 hours of service. Upon completion, students will be prepared to pass the state licensure examination.

The average cost of tuition for the Hollywood Institute of Beauty is $22,272, depending on whether students live on or off-campus. The cost $15,582, books and supplies $2,061, and room plus board equaling $10,050 for off-campus students. Students choosing to live on-campus pay tuition and fees of $15,582, books, and supplies $2,601 and other expenses $10,050.

Is Going to Cosmetology Training the Right Decision for You?

Working as a cosmetologist may seem to be and is a wonderful career choice for some, but it is definitely not the right choice for all. There are some traits that a person who will be successful in being a beautician must-have. These traits include:

  • Being Social
  • Enjoy People
  • Be comfortable touching people
  • Not minding constantly using their hands
  • Being able to accept harsh and sometimes unfair opinions from customers and others
  • Not minding working on their feet all-day
  • Love learning about and offering the latest trends in hair styling
  • Being comfortable offering an honest yet tactful opinion

Answering no to any of these questions, prospective students can ask themselves means they may wish to concentrate their time and efforts on a different career choice.

Even older adults who have tried their hand at other careers and decided to pursue a degree in cosmetology should not worry about fitting into a cosmetology program. Being a non-traditional student in no way impedes on completing the courses successfully and enhances the experience of the younger students.

Things to Expect in Cosmetology School

Signing up for classes at a cosmetology school or a junior college is exciting. However, knowing what to expect in the curriculum helps mitigate any nervous thoughts of what it could all be about.

Most cosmetology school curriculums cover seven areas including:

  • General Cosmetology
  • Hair Care, Cutting, and Styling
  • Hair Coloring
  • Nail Care
  • Skin Care
  • Makeup Application
  • Salon Management

General Cosmetology

This course focuses on patient ethics, human anatomy and physiology, personal grooming, sanitation, and hygiene. There are also classes on advanced cosmetology tools and equipment, both electronic and not. This class is where all cosmetology careers begin regardless of the specialty chosen later.

Hair Care, Cutting, and Styling

These classes are taught the distinct types of hair, proper scalp massage, and basic hair tips. Diving into the world of hair trimming, thinning, curling, and shaping plus shaping techniques help students understand how to do the basic tenants of a hairstylist.

Included in these classes are also:

  • The art of braiding
  • Popular styles like the updo
  • Wedding styles
  • Competition styles
  • Wigs
  • Hair extensions

As one can see, the classes teach a myriad of different techniques and valuable lessons to be utilized later in the student’s career.

Hair Coloring

Students learn in these classes how to safely use coloring chemicals and different techniques such as:

  • Creating highlights or lowlights
  • How to properly apply all over color
  • How to do touch-ups

However, coloring hair involves learning much more than how to properly apply the dye; it also involves learning which colors work best for a client’s skin color and tone. Students learn to help those who are unsure to pick a color and style that works for them.

Nail Care

Nail care involves addressing nail disorders and disease and infections. Students are taught to recognize problems and how to address them while properly offering manicures and pedicures. They also learn how to apply acrylic tips and forms, nail repair methods, and polish techniques.

Students are also given the tools to advise clients on proper care of their nails and when to see their physicians due to a problem with their nails.

Makeup Application

Makeup application is more than slapping on some lipstick and eyeshadow, and students are taught much basic makeup related topics such as:

  • Color theory
  • Basic makeup tools
  • Tips and tricks to applying makeup
  • Esthetics

After the class, the students will not only appreciate how to apply their own makeup for the best effect but also how to apply it to others.

Salon Management

If the students are interested in opening their own salon, these courses on the basics of doing so are invaluable. The courses include:

  • Creating strong client relations
  • Adhering to sound business ethics
  • Effective marketing techniques
  • Business labor laws
  • Worker’s Compensation rights

After completion, students will have a deeper understanding of the process and liabilities involved in owning and opening their own beauty salon business.

Hairdresser, Beautician, Cosmetologists; What are the Differences?

Although people use the terms hairdresser, beautician, and cosmetologist interchangeably, they are truly not the same occupations. Each has their own skill level, amount of training, and salaries.


A hairdresser is someone who cuts or styles hair. Also known as Hairstylists, hairdressers need a high school diploma or GED and attend school for nine months to a year to earn an associate degree in cosmetology. Most states require Hairstylists to earn a license to practice their work.

Hairdressers between $26,460 to $41,490 annually with the difference being location and skill.


A Beautician is a person who does hair styling, manicures, and other beauty treatments. Beautician school is offered at many community colleges with training programs in institutes and other non-traditional venues as well.

Training lasts from nine to twenty-four months and can cover more than one practice, such as hair styling and beauty treatments.

The wages of beauticians do not fare much better than hairdressers, with the average hourly wage being approximately $11.95, meaning they make nearly $24,856 yearly.


A cosmetologist is someone who advises people about cosmetics and other beauty treatments. To become a cosmetologist, a person needs a high school diploma or equivalent, a cosmetology training certificate or an associate degree in cosmetology and supervised hands-on experience. All of those things must be accomplished before the person is allowed to take their state’s cosmetology licensing examination.

Yearly wages for the average Cosmetologist are between $29,590 and $49,050 depending on skill levels and where the person is located in the United States.

With Such Low Salaries Being Paid to Cosmetologists, Why Attend College to Become One?

The greatest reason to consider cosmetology for a career is job security. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, cosmetologists need not worry about becoming unemployed as their profession is adding 8% more workers to their number, making it grow faster than average in comparison to other career choices.

Also, the Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the work environment as in barbershops and hairstyling salons with many working full-time without fear of layoffs or outsourcing of their jobs.

Perhaps the second greatest reason to become a cosmetologist is the chance to open one’s own business with a hairstyling salon of one’s own. Cosmetology is perhaps the only field where a person, if they are talented enough, can make a generous sum of money in a short amount of time, gaining a huge profit from the investment in schooling.

Most cosmetology schools teach classes to help one understand what is needed to run a successful hairstyling salon.

The Five Important Things to Do and Remember to Become a Licensed Cosmetologist

Becoming a cosmetology student takes time and dedication, and earning a license is the ultimate goal of any cosmetology school. There are five things to do and remember to become a licensed cosmetologist including:

  • Become a High School Graduate
  • Keep Your Criminal Record Clean
  • Find and Enroll in a Training School or Institute
  • Specialize
  • Pass the Licensing Exam

If one completes all five of the above things, there is no reason why they cannot become a thriving and well-earning cosmetologist.

Becoming a High School Graduate

The base requirement for any beauty school or institute is for their students to either have graduated from high school or have earned their GED. Why is this important? Cosmetology programs will not allow students to apply unless they can prove they have their diploma or GED certification.

Generally speaking, another requirement to apply for a position in a cosmology school is that the prospective student is at least eighteen or older. However, there are programs that allow, under special arrangements, high school students to attend.

Keep Your Criminal Record Clean

Most schools ask students to complete a criminal background check as part of their application process. If a student has not kept their record clean, breaking the law and having a record can discredit them from qualifying to become a student. This is especially true if the student committed a felony.

However, if the event in question was minor, approaching a counselor on campus and explaining openly and honestly their circumstances, some students may be allowed to apply, attend, and receive their certificate.

Find and Enroll in a Training School or Institute

Choosing from the many cosmetology groups out there is a tough one, but that’s why this article was written to help decide which is the best.

To find the cosmetology school that is right, students should first look at teaching groups close to home. Read about their reputation online and visit campus to ask students who are attending there what their impressions and experiences are of the school.

If the one nearest home isn’t what the student wants or needs, then making a wider search will become necessary.

Look for such things as:

  • Cost of tuition and fees
  • If they offer on and off-campus living
  • How long the curriculum will take before graduation
  • Whether the school offers free job placement counseling
  • Ask if the school offers flexible part-time classes

Most schools offer these conventions and more as they strive to aid their students to become licensed cosmetologists.


Becoming specialized can make the difference between getting a job or not as a cosmetologist. To specialize, most schools require an extra 600 plus hours of coursework, meaning a higher cost, but the benefits overwhelmingly outstrip the negatives.

Specializing allows one to follow their interests instead of simply applying for, gaining, and working a job. Instead, the work becomes enjoyable as styling hair becomes an exercise in sculpting a fresh look for a client.

Pass the Licensing Exam

All the challenging work and money is to prepare one for the licensing exam taken at the end of successfully completing the training. Every state in the United States requires students to pass a cosmetology examination. The examination includes written and practical questions about makeup, skincare, and, of course, hair care.

To gain a license after passing the examination, students are required to pay a state fee, but after that, students can enjoy the privilege of becoming employed as a licensed cosmetologist.

Finding a Job as a Cosmetologist

Like with any job, there are many factors that determine if and when a newly graduated cosmetologist may find work. A few of these factors are the skill level and persistence of the recent graduate.

Proving a Skill Level

Proving the level of the skills a graduate has may include giving a demonstration to the salon owner to show what you know and how well you work with clients. They may ask you to perform a perm or other service and observe what you do and how you follow protocol.

In giving a new graduate a skills test, the owner of the salon is not just safeguarding their business but is offering hints and tips to help their potential new stylist with their abilities as a cosmetologist.

Persistence Pays Off

By not giving up when turned down the first dozen times, a new graduate will finally find the employer and salon that works best for them. When being interviewed, new stylists need to remember that not only are they being examined for possible employment, but also the stylist needs to listen and observe to see if that position is a good fit.

By not taking the first job that offers an interview without carefully checking the reputation of the salon and the salon owner, a lot of problems in a new stylist career can be avoided. Asking questions, being inquisitive, and remembering to it is okay to say no and turn down a position is vital. If a new stylist takes on a position with someone they do not enjoy, their entire service to both themselves and the new boss will become compromised.