San Diego is the second biggest city in California (only behind Los Angeles) and one of the biggest cities in the United States. It’s home to four highly-rated cosmetology programs, and the city has some of the most beautiful beaches in all of America. This makes for a picturesque backdrop for your cosmetology studies.
A lot of students studying cosmetology in California are hoping to work in entertainment. San Diego may not be known for its film presence, but the city is home to many theaters and opera production companies. A lot of people like to dress up and get their hair done for operas, and of course, having the presence of theaters means potential stage work opportunities.
Along with this, San Diego is known for its art galleries. Gallery openings are usually posh affairs that require a trip to the salon for artist and art-observer alike. Having so many galleries in the city means that there will be more events (and more events means more of a need for cosmetologists!)
San Diego also has one of the biggest cruise ship industries in California. Cruise ships typically have salons and spas on board, so if you love to travel, this is a great way to incorporate that into your career.
Between these factors and the sheer size of the city, there are a lot of potential opportunities for working as a cosmetologist.
Downtown San Diego has public transportation, but for the most part, people get around the city by driving. If public transit or walking is your preferred method of getting around, pay close attention to the location of the cosmetology programs listed.
The Best Cosmetology Schools in San Diego
The driving factor when it came to ranking these schools was looking at what made each one unique. Everyone pursuing cosmetology has their own learning style and personal goals, and each school has different strengths. Whether you prefer to work somewhere with an emphasis on specialized instruction or you want to have a focus on networking, there’s a school in San Diego for you.
In addition, we took price and other offered programs into account as well as location. If you’re looking for a more personalized search, we recommend our school finder, but if you’re looking for a ranked list, here’s what we think:
Paul Mitchell the School San Diego
Paul Mitchell the School, San Diego gives each student a full cosmetology kit, which includes an iPad to give them access to everything they need on the go.
Students work closely with learning leaders through the beginning phases of their academic career and also have the opportunity to be part of student teams. These teams each have a different set of interests, ranging from sustainability to social media and can help hone skills the student is looking to build.
There is also a big emphasis on working in the school’s salon for practice and learning, which gives lots of real-world experience.
Program Length: 1,600 hours
Location: 410 A Street, San Diego, CA 92101
Financial Aid: Financial aid and scholarships are both available at Paul Mitchell the School San Diego for those who qualify.
Other Programs Offered: Barbering and makeup artistry
California Hair Design Academy
California Hair Design Academy is a hybrid program that features online as well as in-person work. The program used for online learning, Pivot Point LAB, helps students with theory and instruction and can also be used as a tool to reach out to other classmates.
Along with this, students will get a full kit that has everything they’ll need through their schooling, including an iPad loaded with Pivot Point LAB.
California Hair Design Academy has a high State Board passage rate, and also helps with job placement once the student has gotten their license.
Program Length: 1,600 hours, about a year and a month
Location: 8011 University Avenue, Suite A-2, La Mesa CA 91942
Financial Aid: California Hair Design Academy does offer financial aid to those who qualify.
Other Programs Offered: Barbering, esthetics, nail technician, instructor training
Bellus Academy is in Poway, which is near the northern part of San Diego, so it’ll be more difficult to get around than if you’re downtown–but it’s worth mentioning because it’s a really good program.
Each student receives a large kit, which includes an iPad, as well as all the equipment necessary for success. This school also has an extremely high job placement rate upon graduation, partly because of their externship program.
Finally, Bellus Academy offers a unique nail program focused on spa settings, meaning you learn about things like aromatherapy, which can make you stand out to in-spa salons after graduation.
Program Length: 1,600 hours
Location: 13266 Poway Rd, Poway CA 92064
Financial Aid: Financial aid is available at Bellus Academy to those who qualify.
Other Programs Offered: Barbering, esthetics, makeup, spa nails
American Beauty Institute
If you’re looking to also learn about massage therapy in the heart of San Diego, the American Beauty Institute is the only school in San Diego that offers both programs.
When it comes to the cosmetology program, students are also trained in business and retail, which makes this a good choice if opening and managing a salon is the student’s main goal.
However, the American Beauty Institute isn’t a federally accredited institution, so it’s not possible to get financial aid to cover it.
Program Length: 1,600 hours
Location: 4625 Convoy Street #A, San Diego CA 92111
Financial Aid: The American Beauty Institute does not offer financial aid.
Other Programs Offered: Barbering, esthetics, nail technician, massage therapy