If you’re choosing a state in which to start your career as a cosmetologist, Arizona is one of the best options on the map. Many of the Grand Canyon State’s largest metro areas provide a variety of employment opportunities for cosmetologists, and even smaller communities offer some of the nation’s most competitive pay in this field.
This page will walk you through the basics of launching your career as a cosmetologist in Arizona, whether you aim to work your way up through the ranks or enter aim for a high-paying position right from the start. Whatever your approach, you’ll find enough information here to get you started.
Working your way to a cosmetology job in Arizona takes some time. You’ll need to go through a series of steps, since cosmetologists in Arizona need to be board-certified and well-trained. Here are the basic steps you’ll be following:
- You’ll need a high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) certificate to enroll at most cosmetology schools in Arizona. If you’re still in high school, enroll in a cosmetology vocational program.
- Enroll in any cosmetology program accredited by the Arizona State Board of Cosmetology (AZBOC) – for example, a program like the Cosmetology Program offered at Penrose Academy, or the Cosmetology Program offered at Carsten Institute of Cosmetology.
- Complete your 1,600 hour cosmetology program, as required by the AZBOC. This program will teach you the hands-on skills you’ll use when working as a cosmetologist.
- Consider taking some additional courses to specialize in areas like makeup, wedding hairstyling, and so on. Certifications like these can help you land more niche jobs.
- Pass the ABC examination to become a licensed cosmetologist in Arizona.
- Participate in an apprenticeship program, if any salon in your area offers one. This will help you refine your skills while getting experience in a professional setting.
- Apply for jobs with salon chains like L’oreal and Regis; with hairstyle chains like SuperCuts and ProCuts; and with independent spas, barbershops, and other employers that offer openings for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists (see the "Top Employers " section below).
It’s a time-consuming process, but at the end of it you’ll be qualified to work in just about any cosmetology position, in one of the country’s top states for cosmetology employment.
Different types of Arizona employers offer job openings for cosmetologists, and they range all the way from fancy salons down to small barbershops. Here are some types of places where jobs are often available:
Some of the top-paying jobs for hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists come from high-end salons throughout the state of Arizona. Many of these salons are privately owned and operated by experienced cosmetology professionals, so customers and bosses alike are likely to be demanding. Still, if you’ve got the skills and the spirit to handle a salon like this, you’ll get lots of opportunities to practice the more artistic side of your craft – and you may get pay to match. You can find many job openings from these salons by running a search for terms like "cosmetologist" and "hairstylist" on large job websites like Indeed.com and SimplyHired.com, and scanning for job postings that sound more upscale.
Retail stores & hairstyle chains
Many hair product manufacturers, such as L’oreal and Regis, operate chains of mid-range salons throughout the U.S., including in Arizona. Some retail chains, such as JCPenney, also maintain mid-level salons within their stores, for the convenience of shoppers. And then there are chains like ProCuts and SuperCuts, which cater to clientele who want something a little fancier than a standard barbershop, but don’t want to pay for a high-end salon. You’ll find a wide variety of cosmetology jobs at places like these. They positions aren’t likely to be particularly high-paying ones, but they are likely to remain steady – and you’ll get lots of daily practice working on standard hairstyles. These jobs also often have a lot of postings on job sites like Indeed.com and SimplyHired.com.
Local salons & barbershops
Local businesses account for quite a few cosmetology jobs, too – so you may have luck by looking for cosmetology work in your own town or township. These jobs aren’t likely to offer much in the way of fancy work or high pay, but the atmosphere is also likely to be more relaxed than at a high-end salon or busy chain store. You’ll have more opportunities to work and chat with the locals, and get less pressure to perform at the top of your skill level. If this sounds like it’s more your speed, just walking into a local salon or barbershop and ask if there’s a station available. Even if there isn’t, the locals may be able to point you toward another small salon that’s in need of a certified cosmetologist.
While it’s possible to get your cosmetologist certification from a wide variety of colleges and trade schools throughout the U.S., it may be simpler to focus on schools in Arizona if that’s the state where you’re planning to work. In reviews of cosmetologist programs in Arizona, certain schools’ names tend to be highly recommended. Here are quick profiles of each of them.
Penrose Academy – Cosmetology Program
(Greater Phoenix area)
If you’re looking for a top-notch beauty academy in Arizona, Penrose may be what you’re looking for. This school aims to prepare its students for careers in world-class salons. When you enroll in this school, you’re signing up for instruction by industry experts, who’ll walk you through the basics of hair sculpting and cutting, shampooing, styling, anatomy, sanitation and hygiene – as well as more advanced topics like coloring and perming, skin therapy, nail care, and makeup application. You’ll practice on actual clientele in Penrose’s walk-in salon, where you’ll use the same tools and hair products you’ll be using throughout your career. That means you’ll graduate with the experience you’ll need to pass your Arizona Board of Cosmetology (AZBOC) exam and get jobs at the salons of your choice.
This institute prides itself on providing excellent salon-focused education, with the goal of placing its graduates in jobs with well-known salons around the country. Carsten’s instructors come from years of experience in salons and spas, and they’ll explain the theory and technique of areas like hair styling, cutting and color, skin and nail care, makeup, hair relaxing, and restructuring – along with more technical background topics like anatomy and physiology, chemistry, clinical practice, and even career development. You’ll practice what you’re learning on walk-in clients at Carsten’s public salon, which means that by the time you graduate, you’ll have a solid knowledge base of both theory and practice.
The Studio Academy of Beauty – Cosmetology Program
(Phoenix; Chandler; Tolleston)
The Studio has built up its reputation by partnering with high-end brands of beauty products, and by teaching its students the same techniques used in top salons around the world. As a cosmetology student at The Studio, you’ll learn a wide variety of cutting and styling techniques for men’s and women’s hair, as well as coloring and perming techniques, a wide range of makeup and nail styles, and specialized skills like blow out, pin curls and finger waves, thermal curling and flat ironing. Your instructors will come from years of experience in the salon industry, and you’ll also practice all these skills on actual clients at The Studio’s walk-in salon. By the time you complete the program, you’ll have the background you’ll need to tackle your AZBOC exam and apply for a job in any salon.
Avalon School of Cosmetology – Cosmetology School Program
Avalon aims to provide its students with the expertise necessary not only to work as cosmetologists, but to start and manage their own salons as well. That means Avalon’s expert instructors will train you not only in the fundamentals of haircutting, hairstyling, coloring perming, makeup, manicuring, skin care, and other usual topics – they’ll also take you through the basics of marketing and business development, using examples from their own real-world experiences of salon management. You’ll graduate with enough practical skills – refined through experience in Avalon’s walk-in salon – to pass your AZBOC exam and find work as a cosmetologist, and also enough management skills, look for partners and embark on your own business ventures.
It’s great to have the support of other cosmetologists at your salon – but when it comes to reach and power, there’s nothing quite as effective as a professional association. These organizations can connect you with hundreds – or even thousands – of other hair care professionals, along with salon owners, product representatives, equipment distributors, and other people who can clue you in about new jobs and opportunities to improve the way you work. Associations may even be able to set you up with discounts on insurance, medical care, and other services you’ll need. So take a look at the Arizona association below, and consider giving them a call.
Arizona Spa & Wellness Association (AZSpaWell)
Membership in this organization is open to a wide variety of Arizona beauty and wellness professionals, including cosmetologists, spa personnel, holistic health professionals, and fitness and lifestyle providers. As a member, you’ll get invited to association events and business networking conferences, where you can meet and talk with hundreds of experienced cosmetologists, spa owners, beauty experts, and other industry professionals. Any of these people may know where you can find a job with higher pay, a rare beauty product that’ll improve your clients’ lives, or a new technique that can put you ahead of the competition. You’ll also get access to special training seminars and classes, which can expand your skillset and prepare you to apply for higher-pay ng jobs. Plus you’ll get discounts and special pricing on spa, wellness, fitness, products and treatment packages, along with a variety of other benefits.