Best 21 Cosmetology Schools in Cleveland / Akron (2022)

Starting a new career is exciting and choosing the perfect school for your studies is an essential part of the process. To help you pick, we've put together a list of the top 21 cosmetology schools in the Cleveland/Akron area, with details on required hours, campus facilities, student reviews, and more.

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Top Cosmetology Schools in Cleveland / Akron

#1 - Cuyahoga Valley Career Center
#2 - Gerbers Akron Beauty School
#3 - Buckeye Joint Vocational School
#4 - Apex Academy Hair Skin Nails School of Cosmetology
#5 - Brown Aveda Institute-Mentor

Top Cosmetology Schools in Cleveland / Akron (Full List)

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The Cuyahoga Valley Career Center in Brecksville offers a wide range of vocational courses, including its popular cosmetology program. Students take this 1,500-hour course on a part-time basis, with classes in the evening—meaning it's easy to fit your studies around other commitments.

The program combines hands-on learning with theoretical study. Students learn various beauty-based techniques, such as shampooing; hair cutting, coloring, and styling; scalp treatments; manicures and pedicures; and makeup application. The course also covers in-depth topics such as the anatomy and physiology of the head, face, and arms and the chemical properties of products.

Reviews for the school are positive—one former student on Indeed lists the following points under their favorite things about the facility: "Flexible class hours, Good teachers, Affordable, Helpful career services, Positive environment, Good career preparation, Hands-on training."

3-Year Average Graduation Rate
2018 – 2020 average:  94.00 %
School Profile

This Akron-based beauty school offers students three options: a 1,500-hour cosmetology program, a 750-hour advanced esthetician program, and a 200-hour manicurist program. The cosmetology course teaches students the fundamentals needed to pass the Ohio State Board cosmetology exams and launch a successful career in the hair and beauty industry.

The program takes approximately 12 to 24 months to complete (depending on whether students attend part-time or full-time). It covers various topics, including infection control, the properties of the hair and scalp, chemical procedures and practices, manicures, facial treatments, makeup, artificial lashes, and salon operations and communications. Students practice their new skills in the school's onsite salon under the supervision of expert instructors.

Former students comment favorably on the school, with one reviewer saying, "Class work was well structured and the topic of anatomy is very interesting to learn about. I've always loved the beauty industry so every step of the program was fun and easy!"

3-Year Average Graduation Rate
2018 – 2020 average:  89.10 %
School Profile

The Buckeye Career Center offers a mixture of programs, including over 30 career-technical education courses for high school students, nine full-time adult education programs, and numerous part-time classes. The school's 1,500-hour cosmetology program takes more than two years (750 hours per year) and aims to prepare students for their Ohio State Board cosmetology exams.

It covers a variety of subjects, with students learning how to give a professional shampoo and the ins and outs of proper hair shaping and cutting, manicures, facial techniques, and the art of coloring, perming, and relaxing hair. In addition, students have the chance to hone their skills in a realistic full-service salon setting and learn how to design their own salon, from concept to start up.

"Here, they're big on leadership," says one student. "Just presenting yourself and being professional, that's what Buckeye's about. They teach you how to dress, how to speak, that's something that Buckeye has been really good at teaching everyone here. The people here, they're focused on their labs, that's what they want to do. You build new relationships here because of that, there's something in common that you have with the people in your lab. You just have a relationship like no other!"

3-Year Average Graduation Rate
2018 – 2020 average:  87.70 %
School Profile

The Apex Academy is proud to call itself one of the best cosmetology schools in Ohio and strives to give its students a beyond-expectations education. The school regularly welcomes guest speakers from various backgrounds, including financial advisers, health care providers, salon owners, and product educators. In addition, Apex prepares its students for the world of work by conducting mock interviews, tours, expert shadowing, and setting exciting creative assignments.

Its cosmetology program starts three times per year, in March, June, and September, and takes around one year to complete with 30 hours of classes per week. Apex focuses on small classroom settings and commits to only placing between 3 and 18 students in each class. This allows each student to get more one-on-one time with their instructors, resulting in better grades and a higher level of knowledge.

3-Year Average Graduation Rate
2018 – 2020 average:  87.70 %
School Profile

The Brown Aveda Institute in Mentor offers beauty students a range of comprehensive courses, including a 300-hour advanced manicuring program, 600-hour esthetics program, 1,200-hour hair designer program, and 1,500-hour cosmetology program. For those who wish to take their studies even further, an 1,800-hour advanced cosmetology program is also available.

The school's standard cosmetology program incorporates extensive hands-on learning with classroom study to provide students with a complete understanding of beauty and wellness and prepare them for their future careers. It covers many useful subjects and techniques, including hair cutting, coloring, treatments, and business and retail studies.

As part of the Aveda brand, the school has high standards and ensures that its students are well looked after. Upon enrollment, each learner receives a new Apple iPad as part of their student kit, used in conjunction with the Pivot Point Lab portal for online lessons.

3-Year Average Graduation Rate
2018 – 2020 average:  79.60 %
School Profile

The Madison Adult Career Center in Mansfield offers both a standard 1,500-hour cosmetology program and an advanced 1,800-hour program. In the standard program, students develop their skills in hair cutting, styling, coloring, relaxing, perms, facials, pedicures, manicures, and waxes. Once competent, they can practice on live models in the school's full-service salon.

The 1,800-hour program includes everything described above, then builds upon it with advanced hair techniques and additional certifications in color lines, tanning, piercing, relaxation massage, and blood-borne pathogens. Students in the advanced program also learn to develop a salon business plan.

Students at Madison are encouraged to complete a 150-hour internship under the supervision of a salon manager, which provides valuable employer connections, references, and sometimes even offers of employment.

One former student on Facebook says, "I will forever be grateful to Ms.Melinda and Ms. Kim the adult cosmetology teachers they were the best educator's I've ever had I have been gainfully employed since my 12th month in cos school I have made a great career for myself doing something that I love to do."

3-Year Average Graduation Rate
2018 – 2020 average:  78.10 %
School Profile

The EHOVE Career Center offers cosmetology courses to both high schoolers and adult learners, meaning there's a class for you wherever you're at in your educational journey. Both programs focus on preparing students for a career in hair and beauty with a mixture of theory classes, practical lab experiences, clinical sessions, and internships.

All EHOVE cosmetology students are welcome to practice their skills in the site's full-service salon, with sessions split between the two groups. High school students can also join the school's resumé-building Student Leadership activities, such as becoming a School Ambassador or VIP or joining the Teen Leadership Corps or the Drug Free Leaders Club.

One Facebook reviewer explains, "It's a wonderful program for women and men to full fill there dreams to a better future. The teachers are awesome. Great school."

3-Year Average Graduation Rate
2018 – 2020 average:  76.70 %
School Profile

The 1,500-hour cosmetology program at the Alliance Career Center is a full-time evening course designed to prepare students for employment in various hair and beauty positions. It takes approximately 20 months to complete, with classes scheduled from 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday. In addition, students have to complete 150 hours of summer internship between their first and second years of study, which must take place outside of classroom hours.

Students combine hands-on salon sessions and clinical lab practice with classroom-based theory, covering various topics such as infection control, hair procedures and practices, artificial lashes, skin care, manicures, and pedicures. They also study salon operation and communication skills to help prepare them for the workplace.

Student feedback on Indeed includes many positive comments. "Instructor was amazing, very helpful and hands on learning. Enjoyed volunteering at the hospital and my clinical site was full of amazing people who took the time to train me."

3-Year Average Graduation Rate
2018 – 2020 average:  76.30 %
School Profile

The Sandusky Career Center opened over 55 years ago with business education, trade and industry, and home economics programs. Since then, the adult education center has grown steadily and offers full-time and part-time courses in business, technology, industry, trade, public safety, cosmetology, and healthcare.

The school's advanced cosmetology program takes 1,800 hours and covers a range of standard topics such as hair care, cutting, coloring, styling, skin care, nails, and sanitation procedures.

The advanced program also includes 300 hours of advanced study. It covers state-specific laws and rules, public health and safety, anatomy of the hair and scalp, advanced hair cutting and styling, chemical services, salon supervision and management, specialized equipment use and control, product and service sales training, and communication skills.

3-Year Average Graduation Rate
2018 – 2020 average:  75.60 %
School Profile

This prestigious school offers four different programs for hair and beauty students: a 200-hour nail program, a 600-hour esthetics program, a 1,200-hour hair design program, and a 1,500-hour cosmetology program.

The school resides in a contemporary 10,700 square feet facility in the heart of Twinsburg, just minutes away from Cleveland and close to the town's artistic center. Cosmetology students at Paul Mitchell schools work through three training levels, covering core, adaptive, and creative topics to build a well-rounded, comprehensive knowledge of hair.

As an extra benefit, the school recently launched a partnership with Kent State University Geauga. The program allows all former, current, and prospective students of Paul Mitchell the School Cleveland to apply their license toward credits for an Associate of Technical Studies degree through Kent State Geauga and Twinsburg Academic Center.

3-Year Average Graduation Rate
2018 – 2020 average:  75.60 %
School Profile

Raphael's School of Beauty Culture's Brunswick campus is conveniently located in a shopping center district, close to amenities, and on Interstate Highway 71. It's easy to get to and receives good foot traffic to its in-school salon, where students can practice their skills throughout their studies.

The school's 1,800-hour cosmetology program is built upon over 50 years of experience in the industry and can be completed in as little as 13 months. The school also offers a 1,000-hour barbering crossover program for those who already have their cosmetology license and want to become barbers.

As with its sister locations, Raphael's Brunswick campus offers small class sizes and hands-on training. The school also provides job placement assistance to all students to help them find employment in their chosen beauty field.

3-Year Average Graduation Rate
2018 – 2020 average:  75.00 %
School Profile

This technical school offers cosmetology courses to both high schoolers and adult learners, with separate programs for each. Students can use the high school cosmetology program toward college credit at the University of Akron and Hocking College. They also accrue high school credit in several areas.

The adult cosmetology program takes 1,500 hours to complete, with classes from 2:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday. It covers various topics, including hair coloring and foiling, styling, cutting, permanent waving and relaxing, manicuring, and spa services such as facials, waxing, and tanning.

One student had this to say on Facebook: "This is my first year at atech and not gonna lie it's actually really fun, you make some really amazing friends and meet new people, plus the teachers are really nice, even the staff. I love atech it's a lot of fun and a good way to put you in the correct direction."

3-Year Average Graduation Rate
2018 – 2020 average:  73.70 %
School Profile

Portage Lakes Career Center offers four distinct cosmetology programs—nails, esthetics, a joint nail technician and esthetician course, and cosmetology.

The school's 1,500-hour cosmetology course is led by certified, licensed instructors with years of experience. Students learn through interactive demonstrations and hands-on training about the art and science of hair, skin, and nails and can complete the course in as little as ten months. As a bonus, there are no hidden fees when taking a course at Portage Lakes—tuition covers all costs, including all the tools, materials, and supplies needed, and even exam fees.

One five-star review on Indeed says, "This is a high school trade school, that also offers adult evening classes. It was a great alternative to students who weren't college bound but have potential in the trades offered."

3-Year Average Graduation Rate
2018 – 2020 average:  73.10 %
School Profile

Students at the Inner State Beauty School in Lyndhurst can choose from many programs, including a 200-hour esthetics course, a 600-hour esthetics course, and a 1,500-hour cosmetology course.

The school's cosmetology program comprises three parts—theory (book work and lectures), practical (practicing on each other or mannequins), and clinical (working on actual customers). Students begin as juniors, then graduate to the senior level by testing out once they complete approximately 300 hours.

In addition to their regular programs, Inner State Beauty School also offers a variety of continuing education programs that licensed cosmetologists can take to fulfill their license renewal requirements.

3-Year Average Graduation Rate
2018 – 2020 average:  72.20 %
School Profile

The Wayne County Schools Career Center is another facility that offers separate cosmetology classes for high schoolers and adult learners.

The adult cosmetology program is 1,500 hours and normally takes around 17 months. New classes start approximately every nine months, and the curriculum covers many different beauty-based topics and techniques. In addition to hair cutting, coloring, and styling, students can expect to learn essential information about infection control, trichology, chemical practices, skin care, makeup, artificial lashes, and nails. Students must also complete a salon internship as part of their studies.

"During this journey of cosmetology I've made a lot of friends," says one alumna in a video review posted to YouTube. "I met a lot of future colleagues, people that I'd love to work with in the future. Our teacher Amy has been really great, she works with us one-on-one, and makes sure that we are all where we need to be."

3-Year Average Graduation Rate
2018 – 2020 average:  71.80 %
School Profile

Founded in 1971, the Lorain County Joint Vocational School is on a 100-acre campus in Oberlin, Ohio. Alongside a thriving high school, the facility also runs several different vocational courses for adults in its career development unit.

Its popular cosmetology program takes 1,500 hours and teaches students the art and science of beautifying hair, skin, and nails in a real, working salon environment. Teachers give students hands-on instruction to ensure they pick up the skills needed for a successful career in hair and beauty.

One student review on Indeed says, "Going to any other school is a waste of money. Go here. The teachers care about you and want you to pass so they set you up for success. They also make it fun."

3-Year Average Graduation Rate
2018 – 2020 average:  70.20 %
School Profile

As with its sister locations, Raphael's School of Beauty Culture's Alliance campus offers several comprehensive programs for people who wish to enter the hair and beauty industry. Students can pick from nail, esthetics, combined advanced esthetics and manicurist, and cosmetology programs.

Students can complete the cosmetology course in as little as 13 months. Those who already have a cosmetology license can enroll in the school's 1,000-hour barbering program to further develop their skills.

Raphael's testimonials page is filled with reviews from happy alumni, such as this one: "My favorite thing from the school is the inspiration I get from the instructors and the flexibility of the school. It just pushes me towards my career and gives me confidence for the future."

3-Year Average Graduation Rate
2018 – 2020 average:  69.90 %
School Profile

The Brown Aveda Institute's Strongsville campus offers several beauty-based classes, including a 1,200-hour hair designer program, 1,500-cosmetology program, and 1,800-hour advanced cosmetology program.

Students at Aveda schools are encouraged to explore and express their creativity and build their skills in salon management, business, and client relations. On top of the regular curriculum of hair and beauty, students have access to retail-specific hair, skin, body care, and makeup training, which allows them to practice their client service skills in a real retail environment. Staff and students are also encouraged to participate in charitable events, such as raising money for Clothe a Child, Adopt a Child, and Earth Day. To date, the Institute has donated over $12,000 to charity.

The school has impressive reviews on Indeed, with many positive comments from former students. "Great learning experience!" says one reviewer. "Educators, product line, comfortable environment, state board readiness, just overall a wonderful experience and I would recommend to anyone."

3-Year Average Graduation Rate
2018 – 2020 average:  66.50 %
School Profile

The National Beauty College in Canton is dedicated to giving students a high-quality education and preparing them for their future careers in hair and beauty. The school offers programs in esthetics, nails, and cosmetology and a newly launched barbering qualification.

Students in the 1,500-hour cosmetology program study the art and science of hair, skin, and nails and train in all aspects of the beauty industry—from shampooing, conditioning, hair cutting, styling, coloring, and chemical texturizing to nail care, skin care, and eyelash extensions. In addition to the standard curriculum, students can choose to take extra classes in body treatments, hair extensions, thermal straighteners, and makeup artistry.

Reviews on Indeed are favorable, such as this from one former student: "Wonderful teachers with real experience, hands on training with models and real world costumers. One on one learning and also being educated as a group... great experience!!!"

3-Year Average Graduation Rate
2018 – 2020 average:  58.80 %
School Profile

Located in Lorain, the Northern Institute of Cosmetology is one of the longest-running cosmetology schools in Ohio. Established in 1949, the school has trained students to become professional cosmetologists for over 70 years.

Unlike some other schools, the Northern Institute only offers one program, its core cosmetology course. It takes 1,500 hours, and classes normally take place on a full-time basis over 13 months. Classes provide students with everything needed to become licensed cosmetologists, focusing on productivity, dependability, punctuality, and a willingness to work.

Students on Facebook give the school high praise, saying, "It's a great school to get your cosmetology license from. Affordable and you learn everything you need to know to go to boards. I am thankful everyday I invested in myself and went here for school."

3-Year Average Graduation Rate
2018 – 2020 average:  55.80 %
School Profile

At its popular Norwalk campus, the Elite School of Cosmetology gives students two programs to choose from—a 15-week advanced manicurist course and an 1,800-hour advanced cosmetology course. Students who wish to take the basic 1,500-hour program can do so at the school's sister location in Panama City, FL.

The advanced course takes approximately 60 weeks to complete on a full-time basis. While in the program, students learn essential topics and techniques such as sanitation, scalp care, hairstyling, cutting, wig care, braiding, chemical services, manicuring, pedicuring, and skin care. They also study advanced subjects such as local cosmetology laws, communication skills, salon management, public relations, and health and public safety.

"Great school great teacher and affordable!" says one recent Google reviewer. "Highly recommend this school!"

3-Year Average Graduation Rate
2018 – 2020 average:  52.30 %
School Profile

How We Ranked Cleveland / Akron Cosmetology Programs

The cosmetology schools ranked are accredited or state-approved to provide cosmetology programming according to the licensing requirements in the state. We researched schools that qualified as Title IV institutions and had an average of at least 25 students enrolled in the most recent 3 academic years of available data (2018 - 2020). These schools are all within 50 miles of a major city center and had a weighted 3-year average graduation rate (2018, 2019, and 2020) greater than 50%. After filtering for those requirements, we sorted the remaining programs by the highest weighted average graduation rate to determine the top 21 cosmetology schools in Cleveland / Akron.

Graduation rate and student enrollment data are from the U.S. Department of Education's Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) reports. Schools with key data points missing from IPEDS reports may be omitted from the ranking, as are schools with data that is unattributable to its beauty programs. Many excellent educational institutions—including community colleges—offering a wide variety of vocational programs may, as a result, not be represented on these rankings of top beauty schools.

Editorial Transparency and Anti-Bias Statement
This program ranking and others on our site were created by Beauty Schools Directory editorial staff based on both proprietary and publicly available data. In providing this information for our readers, our team makes editorial decisions independent from any commercial partnerships with any educational institution.