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The 4 Best Cosmetology Schools in San Francisco

The 4 Best Cosmetology Schools in San Francisco

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There are four cosmetology schools in San Francisco to choose from that each have different approaches to their cosmetology programs. This means that no matter what kind of learning environment you thrive in, you’ll likely be able to find something that works with your strengths.

San Francisco is one of the biggest cities on the west coast, and the need for cosmetologists is rising. So, when you’re ready to graduate from school, there is likely to be a wealth of opportunities waiting for you, whether you’re looking to work in a salon or work in entertainment.

When people think of media in California, Los Angeles may be the first city to come to mind, but there are a lot of entertainment possibilities in San Francisco as well. San Francisco has one of the biggest television markets in the US, with all of the major TV networks having affiliates in the area. This means lots of people and lots of hair!

If working in a salon is more your speed, San Francisco and the surrounding area also have you covered. Along with this, most of the cosmetology schools also offer additional programs in subjects like makeup artistry and barbering, which may give you an extra résumé boost after graduation.

When it comes to living in the city, public transportation and walking tend to be the way to go. Downtown San Francisco is really easy to walk and has everything you need at your fingertips (including some of the best food in America). Driving is possible, but parking tends to be very expensive, and the high levels of wind can make it physically difficult to drive a car in. This may be something to keep in mind when looking at job offers and potential residences.

With a high population density and beautiful weather all year round, San Francisco is a great place to kick off your cosmetology career.

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The Best Cosmetology Schools in San Francisco

When looking at the cosmetology schools in San Francisco, we wanted to pay special attention to what made each program different from the rest. Everyone learns differently, and having a learning environment that enriches you to the fullest will be what makes you the most successful when it comes time for graduation.

We also took into account factors like financial aid availability and what other programs the school offers, which can make or break the final decision. To get the best match tailored to your cosmetology school needs, check out our school finder to help you narrow it down!

San Francisco Institute of Esthetics and Cosmetology

The San Francisco Institute of Esthetics and Cosmetology gives each student a full 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 whatever 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.

Cost: $22.2k, plus registration and equipment, which is another $4.7k

Program Length: 1,600 hours

Location: 1067 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94103

Financial Aid: Financial aid and scholarships are available for those who qualify. For more information, check out their page.

Other Programs Offered: Barbering, esthetics, and nail artistry


Hilltop Beauty School


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Hilltop Beauty School is a small school, which means that there will be more opportunities for specialized instruction and a more hands-on approach than what you may get with a larger class.

Because there tends to be less people in a graduating class, Hilltop Beauty School has flexibility in their starting dates as well as throughout their program. There are both full- and part-time options, which makes this a great choice if you need an alternative schedule.

Located in central San Francisco, Hilltop Beauty School still has its finger on the pulse of the city while also being very close to a number of large parks.

Cost: $14k, plus books and equipment

Program Length: 1,600 hours

Location: 6317 Mission St. Daly City, CA 94014

Financial Aid: Hilltop Beauty School offers financial aid to those who qualify.

Other Programs Offered: Nail technician, instructor training


Cinta Aveda Institute

The Cinta Aveda Institute has a flexible schedule that allows you to complete your program quickly.

The Cinta Aveda Institute also focuses on teaching students about behind the scenes business subjects like merchandising and salon management, which are related skills that may be very helpful. Once students have graduated and pass the state board exam, they’ll have all the skills they need as well as an advantage to work in a Cinta Aveda salon.

The Cinta Aveda Institute is a great choice if you have a variety of interests that transcend the cosmetology basics, like advanced skin care certification (CIDESCO) or how to effectively manage a salon.

Cost: Estimated to be around $22.5k, plus supplies and books

Program Length: Flexible, can be as short as 1 year and 2 months.

Location: 305 Kearny Street, San Francisco, CA 94108

Financial Aid: Cinta Aveda does offer financial aid and scholarships to those who qualify.

Other Programs Offered: Barbering, esthetics, nail artistry, makeup, CIDESCO


International College of Cosmetology


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The International College of Cosmetology isn’t actually in San Francisco–it’s across the bridge in Oakland–but depending on your needs, it may be worth the travel time.

Every student gets a kit included in their tuition price that grows as you advance through your lectures and practice hours. The International College of Cosmetology also offers a program specializing in eyelash extensions, which none of the other cosmetology schools in the area have.

Along with this, the cosmetology program can be completed full-time in less than a year, or you can do it two days a week (which takes two years.) This flexibility means that even if you have other obligations, you can still find time to pursue your dream.

Cost: $15k

Program Length: 1,600 hours, can be as short as 10 months

Location: 3701 International Blvd, Oakland, CA 94601

Financial Aid: The International College of Cosmetology does offer financial aid to those who qualify.

Other Programs Offered: Esthetics, nail technician, makeup artistry, eyelash extension


Picking the Best Cosmetology School For You

A professional cosmetology certification is an expensive but rewarding endeavor and can open up a lifelong career within the beauty industry. But if none of the above courses inspire you to enroll, why not consider a rewarding new career as a professional makeup artist?

You can study online at your own pace and learn from industry experts from the comfort of your own home. Click here to get started.

About the Author

Silver Stephens

Silver has been interested in fashion, hair, and makeup since the age of MySpace. Finding the perfect balance between style and practicality is what drives their research, and a policy they strive for in their everyday life. Previously working as a stylist gave them ample experience when it comes to providing options and recommendations for a diverse set of needs. They love learning about new products and keeping an eye on trends--especially ones that marry glamour with functionality. When they’re not engrossed in product research, they’re reading, snuggling their pets, or working on creative writing projects.

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