You know the rush of confidence and happiness you get when your hair looks just the way you want it to, or your makeup really makes your eyes pop? Haircuts and styles, makeup application, and even a new manicure are about a lot more than just vanity. Sometimes, attention to outer beauty helps you open up and express your inner beauty—the precious qualities that make you uniquely you. If you’re familiar with this transformative power of cosmetology, perhaps you should consider a career in the beauty industry, and dedicate your working life to helping others unlock their inner confidence through beauty as well.
Finding the right cosmetology school is the first step in a successful beauty career, and like any career decision you make, you want to make the right choice. Beauty school is fun, but it's not easy. And you'll be spending a lot of time there, so it's important to choose the best cosmetology school for you. Consider the following questions when exploring your options:
- Are you looking for a full-time or part-time program, and what does the school offer?
- Will you be able to practice on real clients instead of just wigs?
- What is the total cost of the program?
- Is financial aid available?
- Is the school accredited?
- Does the school have a continuing education program?
- Will they help you with job placement after graduation?
From community colleges and local franchises to big names in the industry, chances are there's a beauty school near you. Still, it’s essential to pick a school with a good reputation in the industry and positive reviews from its former students. The stylists at your local salons might be able to offer feedback about any schools in your area—as with any multi-campus school, there will be differences between the overall reputation and what you get at the individual school. In that vein, it's also a good idea to request a tour before enrolling anywhere so that you can see the campus, ask questions, and talk to current students and instructors.
While cosmetology school options are nearly endless, we’ve rounded up our top picks in the United States. Chosen based on criteria such as their reputation, course offerings, and accessibility, we think any of the cosmetology schools below would offer you an excellent educational foundation for your career in the beauty industry.
Overwhelmed by trying to choose the right cosmetology school? Read on for our top five picks for the best cosmetology schools in the United States.
The Aveda Institute is one of the most highly-regarded cosmetology schools anywhere. And if you’re as obsessed with Jennifer Aniston as we are, and fawn over any commercial she does, you’re probably aware that the salons are known for their natural, plant-based beauty products. Because of this, Aveda has an innovative approach to the industry. You can expect a well-rounded and hands-on education covering cosmetology, esthetician services, makeup, massage therapy, and even sales, marketing, and client retention.
Aveda offers tons of support in the form of financial assistance, flexible class schedules, and job placement opportunities. Plus, you likely won't have to move very far because the institute offers about 60 locations throughout the United States and Canada. However, each institute provides a different program lineup, so it's best to explore individual locations and the overall program to find one that best suits your needs.
One of the best parts of the Aveda Institute is its dedication to continued education. Learning opportunities include annual Aveda education classes, Aveda Business College, Advanced Academies, and the Aveda Master Jam, where you get a chance to be inspired by leading industry artists.
Paul Mitchell Schools
You will find Paul Mitchell-trained hair designers working in almost every corner of the world. The name is universally recognized, which means prospective employers will know that you received a top-notch education. Additionally, the schools have a reputation for innovation and high-end results.
Paul Mitchell has over 100 beauty schools across the country. Programs include cosmetology, barbering, esthetics, nails, and makeup. They also offer an education program to train to become an instructor for future professionals in the beauty industry.
The multi-phase cosmetology program offers courses in design, cutting, coloring, multicultural techniques, makeup, fashion trends, and the art of hairdressing. The brand is involved with numerous beauty trade shows and offers creative and networking events for students.
The school offers financial aid opportunities, continued education, and assistance in job placement after graduation.
Empire Beauty School
Empire Beauty School has been in the business of beauty for more than 80 years. With cosmetology schools in more than 20 states, they're a fantastic choice for your education. The programs offered include cosmetology, esthetics, makeup artistry, nail technology, and training to become an educator for aspiring beauty industry professionals. The cosmetology coursework includes skincare basics, makeup, nail services, business fundamentals, and hair cutting, styling, texturing, and coloring.
Graduates from Empire go on to do editorial and celebrity work, open their own salons, and find work all over the world. Empire, like the others on this list, is also known for having fantastic job placement opportunities. They also offer financial aid and scholarships along with various programs to fit your schedule.
The Sassoon Academy is another iconic name in the beauty business. Vidal Sassoon changed the way we look at hairdressing with his precision haircuts that were beyond what anyone had seen before. The Sassoon Academy embodies that sleek, fashion-forward style at the cosmetology schools.
They promise that you will leave inspired by their comprehensive list of hairdressing courses, and they certainly try to deliver on that. The courses are developed and designed to be contemporary, relevant, and forward-thinking. They're delivered with passion, commitment, and technical excellence from some of the top hairdressing professionals in the industry.
The Sassoon name is recognized worldwide, and you'll be able to find schools throughout the United States and Canada, as well as locations in Germany and the United Kingdom. Financing is available directly through the school, with a variety of long- and short-term payment plans.
The Ogle School
With several locations throughout Texas, the Ogle School is considered one of the premier cosmetology programs in the United States and has been in operation for nearly 50 years. The school offers both cosmetology and esthetics programs, which can be completed on a full-time or part-time basis. Students frequently get to enjoy lectures from some of the leading professionals in the industry, who visit the campuses and offer their expertise and knowledge on a range of topics from hair styling and coloring, makeup application, and opening and managing your own salon. They also deliver some of the curriculum digitally through the Learn About Beauty (LAB) platform.
Several forms of financial aid are available. The clout carried by the Ogle School name and reputation is thought to offer graduates a leg up on job placement upon program completion.