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The 9 Best Cosmetology Schools in NYC to Kickstart Your Career

The 9 Best Cosmetology Schools in NYC to Kickstart Your Career

There’s no place quite like New York City. Among around a million and one other things, the Big Apple is known for its distinctive style, glamorous events, and being home to the rich and famous. Why wouldn’t you want to study beauty there?

Considering the number of high net worth individuals that live or travel through the city and the various important beauty-related events that take place there (New York Fashion Week, anyone?), it shouldn’t come as a surprise that New York is a hotspot for the right kind of professional opportunities.

If you want an endless stream of potential clients and to be right at the center of industry developments, look no further. The more people need makeup, hair, skincare, and similar treatments in a location, the more demand there is for highly-qualified professionals — so you’re (usually) better off launching yourself in a big city than a tiny town.

There’s certainly no shortage of salons and similar establishments in New York. Although you could study elsewhere and move to New York for work after, it’s easier to build up connections and become familiar with the area if you train there first.

There are also a host of other benefits to living in New York, such as the excellent public transport connections and the nightlife. Having said that, studying and working in New York isn’t without its disadvantages. The cost of living isn’t to be understated, especially when renting and eating out.

Of course, you’ll also be able to charge New York prices for your services, so it should all even out when (yes, we said when) you launch a successful career in the beauty industry.

Unsurprisingly, there are plenty of cosmetology schools to choose between, and the list we’ve put together certainly isn’t exhaustive. It was tough to narrow it down to just ten schools, but eventually, we selected the ones below. Or why not use the school widget finder to give yourself the full selection?

The Best Cosmetology Schools in NYC

So, what’s the difference between any old NYC cosmetology school and a top institution? We’ve considered a few key factors to reach our conclusion, including accreditation, reputation, industry connections, and available financial aid. Enjoy the results of some serious research!

The Academy NYC of Cosmetology & Esthetics

Paul Mitchell is arguably one of the most famous and influential hairdressers ever, so a cosmetology school made in his name is a good bet if you want a great brand name. As you’d expect, the general cosmetology program here is more focused on haircare than other schools — but it does offer programs in other areas too.

One of the standout aspects of the academy is the effort it makes to ensure its students are employable, giving them special training and resources to help them pass the State Board Examination.

Cost: $14,500.

Program Length: 1,000 hours.

Location: Staten Island.

Financial Aid: Low-income students who complete the program may be eligible for FAFSA, Federal Pell grants, or federal subsidized loans, while other students can apply for federal unsubsidized loans.

Other Programs Offered: Esthetics, Makeup, Nails, Barbering.

Link: www.paulmitchell.edu

Empire Beauty School

Located in midtown Manhattan near iconic sights like the Empire State Building (see how it got its name?), it would be hard to imagine a more inspirational spot for a cosmetology school than the Empire Beauty School.

You’ll learn more than just the basics of hair, skin, and makeup here, with accreditation by the premier awarding body (the National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences) and a special student salon to hone your craft in a real workplace environment. However, it’s certainly not for the faint-hearted — with a fast-paced approach to training, you can expect to jump straight into working with clients.

Cost: $12,850.

Program Length: 1,000 hours.

Location: Manhattan.

Financial Aid: Some students may be eligible for FAFSA, and there are also various scholarships, including the Empire Beauty High School Scholarship, Good Attendance Scholarship, and Educational Endowment Program.

Other Programs Offered: Esthetics, Nail Technology, Educator Training.

Link: www.empire.edu

Aveda Arts & Sciences Institutes

It would be hard to imagine a more comprehensive Cosmetology program than the one offered at Aveda, with a course that spans everything from business skills to chemical waving to pedicures. Students can also choose a specialized area of study to help prepare them for the workplace, such as wellness or makeup artistry.

Since Aveda itself is a network of thousands of salons, you can count on its educators to know what they’re talking about on this one. However, the program’s scope is reflected by the cost, so make sure you know it’s worth it for you.

Cost: $17,095.

Program Length: 29 weeks full-time or 46 weeks part-time.

Location: Manhattan.

Financial Aid: Certain students may be able to access Federal Financial Aid, Federal Pell Grant, and direct subsidized or unsubsidized loans, and there’s also a special Aveda Institute New York Scholarship.

Other Programs Offered: Esthiology, Massage Therapy.

Link: www.avedaarts.edu

Arrojo Cosmetology School

Licensed by New York State and accredited by NACCAS, Arrojo offers a cosmetology program that combines the classic and the modern. The course covers exciting new techniques that match New York’s dynamism, alongside industry staples and soft business, client-building skills. Educators also encourage students to develop their own unique approach based on what they’ve learned.

Having won multiple awards and placed students in various careers, from salon work to theater beauty, the advantages of this special program are clear. There’s even the opportunity to apply to work in an Arrojo salon alongside your studies, which helps with finding work after.

Cost: Unclear.

Program Length: 1000 hours.

Location: Manhattan.

Financial Aid: There are no clear details about scholarships unique to Arrojo, but certain students could be eligible for the Federal Pell Grant, direct subsidized loans, or direct unsubsidized loan.

Other Programs Offered: Esthetics, Barbering.

Link: www.arrojocosmetology.com

American Beauty Institute

Found in the Asian district of Manhattan, the American Beauty Institute provides a thorough education in all aspects of the beauty world at a convenient location. With modules that cover all areas of cosmetology and a foundation in business, the Hairdressing and Cosmetology program will teach you everything you need to know to enter the profession — or even start your own salon.

Licensed by New York State and taught in classes of less than 20, you’re sure to benefit from the high-quality education.

Cost: Unclear.

Program Length: 1,000 hours.

Location: Manhattan.

Financial Aid: Unfortunately, there’s no indication of any scholarship or financial aid options for students.

Other Programs Offered: Esthetics, Nail Specialist, Waxing Specialist.

Link: www.beautyinstitute.us

American Beauty School

If you’re a native Spanish speaker and want to learn cosmetology in your mother tongue, you’re in luck — the American Beauty School runs programs in both Spanish and English. With 50 years of experience and an accessible location in the heart of the Bronx, you can’t go far wrong with this one.

The course includes classes that cover chemical treatments, waxing, client relationships, and skincare treatments. And even better, all students have the chance to practice their skills on clients in a special student salon.

Cost: Unclear.

Program Length: 1,000 hours.

Location: Bronx.

Financial Aid: There are no specific scholarships or financial aid programs available for students.

Other Programs Offered: Nail Technician.

Link: www.americanbeautyschool.edu

Brittany Beauty Academy

The entire Hairdressing & Cosmetology course at Brittany Academy is centered around the requirements for the New York State Exam — all instructors have a special state license, and each course follows the relevant curriculum. This includes learning about anatomy, nail care, hair styling, and more.

Another differentiating factor of the program is its relationship with leading haircare company Wella, giving all students access to special opportunities and product guidance courtesy of the brand — including competitions and seminars. With any luck, you’ll waltz straight into a job after graduating.

Cost: $16,800 or $14,500.

Program Length: 1,000 hours.

Location: Levittown, Bronx, Brooklyn.

Financial Aid: The school runs its own scholarship program, and students may also be eligible for Pell grants, direct loans, SEOG, or the AGE grant.

Other Programs Offered: Esthetics, Nail Technology, Waxing, Makeup Artistry.

Link: www.brittanyacademy.edu

Midway Paris Beauty School

Unlike other institutions, Midway Paris Beauty School only offers one program: the Hairdressing and Cosmetology course. However, it’s a good one, so don’t let that put you off.

The school has accreditation from the National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences and is licensed by the New York State Education Department; plus, it has 60 years of experience training professionals in the industry. What more could you ask for?

You can choose to learn in English or Spanish and through either day or evening classes, so there’s a convenient study option for people in all situations.

Cost: Unclear.

Program Length: 1,000 hours.

Location: Queens.

Financial Aid: There are scholarships and grants available for some students, but you need to contact the Admissions office for further information.

Other Programs Offered: None.

Link: www.midwayparis.com

Modern International Beauty School

For an affordable cosmetology school with all the right licensing, you’d struggle to find a better study option than the Modern International Beauty School. With a focus on passing the New York State Cosmetology exam and a variety of classes covering haircare, nail care, and skincare alike, this is a program well-equipped to prepare you for a cosmetology career.

It’s also the only New York cosmetology school to offer a Natural Hair Styling program, so if you know that’s what you want to do, look no further.

Cost: $6,000.

Program Length: 1,000 hours.

Location: Brooklyn.

Financial Aid: The school doesn’t advertise any scholarship or financial aid options.

Other Programs Offered: Nail, Esthetics, Natural Hair Styling, Waxing.

Link: www.mibeautyschoolny.com

Continental School of Beauty

The Continental School of Beauty’s principal program is the Hairdressing and Cosmetology course, which gives students the chance to study and specialize in a variety of areas, including salon management, waxing, and coloring. Most importantly, teachers want to show their students how to be creative and innovative — not just to imitate what they learn.

A huge advantage of the Continental School is its dedicated careers service, which has been going for 55 years — plenty of time to build up relevant industry connections. Students can attend special job fairs, practice interviews, receive tailored advice, and more. While it’s located upstate, it’s absolutely worth considering if you’re serious about a career in cosmetology.

Cost: $16,490.60.

Program Length: 1,000 hours.

Location: Rochester, Syracuse, West Seneca.

Financial Aid: The Continental School offers a variety of exclusive scholarship options. These include the Arnold M. Miller Scholarship, Sydell Miller Total Image Scholarship, Horst M. Rechelbacher Foundation, and the Cosmetology & Barbering Scholarship.

Other Programs Offered: Esthetics, Esthetics & Nail Specialty, Barbering.

Link: www.continentalschoolofbeauty.edu

Next Stop, New York

Are the bright lights (of both the NYC nightlife and the cosmetology equipment) calling you? Good — now, it’s time to chase your dreams!

It might seem impossible to choose just one cosmetology school when there are so many great options out there, so we recommend taking a thorough look at the curriculum, costs, and financial aid options for each institution. There are some pretty clear differences when you pay attention to the details, so don’t just choose a random school because you like its website.

And don’t be shy about contacting the admissions office for any extra information — that’s exactly what they’re there for. Now, over to you!