Are you searching for an exhilarating career that gives you the opportunity to interact with people every day, make them happy, and help them feel great about themselves and enhance their appearance? If so, a career as an esthetician may be right for you.
This site is here to provide you with all the information that you will need in order to understand what an esthetician does, what you can expect at esthetician schools (both cosmetic and medical esthetician schools), and give a general idea of what opportunities there are for both a cosmetic esthetician and a medical esthetician (including the differences between the two roles).
We’ll provide you all the information you need to walk away with a clear picture in mind of both the training and work needed to become an esthetician and the rewards that come from choosing this particular career.
- 1 Esthetician Job Description
- 2 How to Become an Esthetician?
- 3 The Difference Between an Aesthetician and an Esthetician
- 4 How Long Does it take to Become an Esthetician?
- 5 Esthetician Schools Online
- 6 How Much does Esthetician School Cost?
- 7 Esthetician License and Certification
- 8 Esthetician Salary – How much does an Esthetician Make?
- 9 Job Outlook for Estheticians
- 10 Career Paths Estheticians can Take
- 11 Financial Aid for Esthetician Students
- 12 Typical Day in the Life of an Esthetician
- 13 Benefits of Being an Esthetician
- 14 Final Thoughts – “Should I Become an Esthetician?”
Esthetician Job Description
To answer the questions “What is an esthetician?” or “what does an esthetician do?” we first have to define esthetics. So what is esthetics? Esthetics is the field of the beauty industry that focuses almost exclusively on skin care. The field of esthetics has been growing quickly over the last decade, parallel with the rest of the cosmetics industry.
Esthetics involves beautifying the skin in a variety of ways, including analyzing the skin closely, performing facials, doing microdermabrasion, waxing facial hair, doing extractions and exfoliation, giving facial massages, and recommending skin care regimes to clientele.
Estheticians are skilled and specially trained skincare professionals who provide their clients with cosmetic skin treatments, particularly around the neck or facial area. They are a highly valued part of the personal and beauty industry workforce and oftentimes work with cosmetologists and massage therapists in salons or spas.
They provide assistance in several fields of medicine as well such as cosmetic surgery and dermatology, and sometimes find work directly in these types of medical facilities. Since estheticians are consistently interacting with the clients and patients throughout the day, they need to have a pleasing demeanor and have all requisite knowledge in order to assess their clientele.
Estheticians receive clients and inspect their skin to advise them about procedures, products and treatments that could benefit them. After skin inspection, available treatment options are discussed with the clients and services are provided such as performing facials, removing unwanted facial hair and blackheads, and applying peels, lotions and other products. They advise and teach clients about makeup application, tint eyebrows and provide facial massages.
Estheticians work in resorts, hotels and barbershops as well as spas and salons. Many estheticians are self-employed and set their own hours. Some go on to open their own salon or beauty centers. There is usually flexibility in the hours and schedules worked, but many self-employed estheticians do work very long hours.
You will need to be a good listener and detail-oriented so that you can properly identify any clients’ needs and choose the best treatment course for each of them. Good hand-eye coordination is also extremely helpful to have since skin care often requires procedures that depend on great precision.
The esthetics field also often includes luxury spa elements for the rest of the body, including body wraps and polishes, aromatherapy, foot reflexology, eyebrow shaping and eyelash tinting.
If you choose to become a medical esthetician, you will help to prepare clients’ skin for medical procedures and to promote faster healing. In addition, you would be advising clients on applying corrective makeup and how to hide bruising, redness or irritation during the healing process. Medical estheticians work in clinical settings supervised by medical professionals as they prepare patients’ for treatment, surgery and the healing and recovery process.
There are several specialties under the esthetics and skin care umbrella. For example, some estheticians choose to specialize in a specific skin condition that could benefit from their treatments, such as acne/rosacea, waxing and hair removal, or spa services like wraps and polishes Other estheticians may choose to pursue careers in dermatologists’ offices or burn clinics to work in a near-medical setting, and often take on the title “medical esthetician.”
In addition to application of salves and other remedies, esthetics sometimes also encompasses treatments like microdermabrasion all the way to alternative areas like aromatherapy and reflexology. It’s a highly specialized field, that’s often what attracts people to it. For those people who are interested in the beauty field, esthetics is often a natural fit.
A relatively new field, the field of esthetics has developed alongside new skin products that are extremely effective in promoting long-term skin health.
In just the last few decades we have started to really understand how the skin ages, the factors that affect skin health and beauty, what the variables are in this process, and what can be done to minimize the natural effects of aging. It’s an exhilarating time for the beauty industry as we continue to expand and define roles like esthetics.
How to Become an Esthetician?
If someone is interested in becoming an esthetician, they must attend an accredited esthetics school that offers an esthetician diploma. Esthetician and/ or medical esthetician training can be obtained at technical or trade schools, beauty schools, or career colleges. After completing the required esthetician courses in the subject matter and numerous hours of clinical experience, graduates can take their state exam which usually consists of written, verbal, and practical segments.
The esthetician courses available at college are often grouped under the heading of cosmetology, but skincare or esthetician programs are more specialized than general cosmetology diplomas and focus on the techniques and procedures performed by estheticians.
In addition to classroom instruction, there is also an extensive hands on component (often consisting of practical esthetician classes in facials, waxing and massage) required of students in order to graduate.
All states require graduates of esthetician programs to become state licensed. The rules and regulations of each state vary, so it is wise to check the state requirements where one wishes to become licensed.
In order to become licensed, the different states require students to graduate from an accredited esthetics program and then pass a required state exam. Although the exams might differ from state to state, the licensing exam is always very involved and includes both a written and practical component. After passing the exam, graduates become state licensed are eligible to begin esthetician work in their respective states.
The Difference Between an Aesthetician and an Esthetician
Traditional estheticians, also known as skin care specialists, clean skin through skin exfoliation, massage, aromatherapy and facials. They also analyze skin for problems and temporarily remove hair. Estheticians may apply makeup and consult individuals on the best products for their skin type. Estheticians can be found in beauty salons, resorts, fitness clubs and spas.
A medical aesthetician, also known as clinical or paramedical aestheticians, are skin care specialists that work with cancer patients, burn victims and others who have health-related problems.
They treat and maintain facial skin that’s been damaged because of fire, surgery, chemotherapy treatments and other incidents.
Medical aestheticians are responsible for helping patients clean and moisturize their skin, as well as choose and apply appropriate makeup during recovery periods. Medical aestheticians work in hospitals, burn units, reconstructive surgery centers and other healthcare facilities. Estheticians (or aestheticians) typically complete formal education in cosmetology or esthetician training.
Medical esthetician training programs are available as associate degree, certificate and diploma programs. Regardless of the type of program, an esthetician must complete practical skin care training with an aesthetician school and state exams to be eligible for an aesthetician license.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, all states require personal appearance specialists, such as a skin care esthetician, to be licensed. License requirements do vary from state to state, but typically they include a high school diploma and then specialized formal training.
How Long Does it take to Become an Esthetician?
If you’re interested in becoming an esthetician, you may be wondering “How long does esthetician school take?” A certificate of achievement in esthetics can often be earned from 2-year colleges.
The skin care programs can vary in the number of class hours and practical hours required, but they are generally between 300 and 1500 hours depending on the state and can take anywhere from 4 to 12 months to complete.
The programs usually consists of esthetics classes in subject areas such as anatomy and physiology and the instruction of esthetic techniques such as chemical peels and facials. Coursework in the certificate programs often include an introduction to cosmetology and skin care, science and salon management. ‘How long is esthetician school?’ is a question that is very dependent on the state you are seeking certification in.
Esthetician Schools Online
Another question you may be asking yourself is “Are there any quality esthetician schools near me?” Well, you’re in luck, as some of the best esthetician schools offer the fundamentals of esthetics as online coursework! Students considering online esthetician schools must make their decision based on several key factors.
Some colleges offer hybridized skin care programs that allow a student to complete academic study online; however, the study of esthetics requires hands-on learning. Many accredited esthetics programs are offered at community colleges, nursing schools and cosmetology schools located throughout the United States.
Prepare for some hands-on training though. Skin care is a hands-on type of field, and many, if not most, esthetician school online courses require some physical training to complete your program.
College programs in esthetics provide training in disorders of the skin, dermatology, facial treatments, care for the skin and esthetician theory and practice. More advanced programs may cover the use of chemical peels, injections (such as Botox), microdermabrasion and dermal fillers.
Unless you wish to seek esthetics training only, your classes may be part of a cosmetology program. Many estheticians complete cosmetology courses to round out their general training and increase their marketable skills. Some estheticians become make-up artists, while others may transfer into medical aesthetics.
Certificate programs in esthetics are available at nursing schools and online universities that teach skin anatomy, wound assessment and wound care. The program may count as a continuing education credit for nursing professionals who need to maintain their professional licensure.
High level training in medical aesthetics for health care professionals focuses on the use of lasers used in cosmetic skin surgery. Students are often instructed on the different types of lasers and their applications.
Training can be completed in mesotheraphy (the removal of cellulite). In addition, there are often courses available in pain management and dermatology procedures.
Ensure that your skin school choice is accredited. In the eyes of a potential employer, a degree or certificate from an unaccredited school of esthetics would be far less beneficial to you. Make sure your investment of time and money is a safe one by choosing an accredited school.
If one cannot afford to pay for education outright, students will require at least a little financial assistance, and thankfully loans and grants are available for some skin care schools. It may be worth remembering that you may need to finance your education with student loans, so make sure your esthetics school choice is eligible for them.
How Much does Esthetician School Cost?
Community colleges and private technical schools offer esthetician training, and esthetician schools’ cost varies significantly between schools.
Private esthetics school costs up to $9,000 for tuition, while community college costs are close to $2,500. At the higher end of the scale, some top esthetician schools may charge $8,400 for 600 hours of instruction.
For state residents, community college can be much cheaper than private technical school. Some community colleges can charge $2,640 for 30 hours of classroom training for state residents while tuition for out of state students is $8,300, comparable to private institutions, which makes the cost of esthetician school variable based on the location of the institution you choose.
Esthetician License and Certification
The first step in how to become an aesthetician is always obtaining your requisite licenses and certifications.
When you are pursuing a specific specialty certification like an esthetician license there are some consistent steps in the process across each discipline. Becoming a certified esthetician in your state always begins with education.
Esthetician certification varies from state to state, but as of 2015, most states require you to attend an approved school of esthetics for a minimum number of hours, get hands-on training in the student salon or clinic, and sit for the state’s board exams. Several states actually allow apprenticeships in lieu of formal classes to get those training hours.
Once you have passed the board exams specific to your state, you are required to renew regularly. Some states require continuing education hours to renew your beauty license, some require taking a safety and sanitation quiz to renew, and others with less stringent esthetician requirements simply require the license renewal fee.
The path to becoming a licensed esthetician begins with knowing if you meet the candidate requirements. After completing an application (along with supporting documents) and submitting them for verification, you may be preparing to take the certification exam. Esthetician certification can often be completed in a matter of weeks.
After completing your application, you may be able to study a provided training manual which will help you to review your knowledge in preparation for the exam. You’ll also need to review any provided syllabus which would outline the exam content, and provide some sample questions.
In addition to the state certification and licensing, you can also seek NCEA (National Coalition of Estheticians, Manufacturers/Distributors Association) certification. Obtaining a 75% passing grade in the NCEA exam earns you the right to call yourself “NCEA Certified”. Afterwards, you receive your NCEA Certified Credential, certificate, along with your Certified Benefits Directory. When a licensed esthetician becomes certified, it means that the esthetician has, in addition to state licensure examinations:
Completion of the Candidate Requirements as set forth by the National Coalition of Estheticians, Manufacturers/Distributors & Associations and achieved a passing score on the National Certification Examination.
Esthetician Salary – How much does an Esthetician Make?
Esthetician salaries will vary depending on several factors, such as their area of operation, their education and industry experience and client base.
As a newly licensed esthetician, you can expect to start at a lower wage, and gain higher wages as you gain more experience. By making the right education choice and attending a competitive esthetician program you can improve your chances for higher wages by securing employment with an elite salon, spa or medical practice.
As with any career, the longer you are employed by any one employer, the higher your wages will be. This is especially true for professional estheticians; generally our income is dependant on a loyal clientele.
The Bureau of Labor statistics lists estheticians under skin care specialists, and does not differentiate between a licensed esthetician salary and a medical esthetician salary. Medical estheticians who worked in physicians’ offices in 2011 had an average annual salary of $38,680, while those who worked in personal care services such as salons or spas (likely licensed cosmetic estheticians) earned an average annual salary of $30,340. Estheticians who worked in general medical and surgical hospitals had an average annual salary of $39,300 and those who worked in outpatient care centers earned $40,490.
The average master esthetician salary starts at $51,000. Average master esthetician salary can vary greatly by location, company, experience and benefits. This salary was calculated using the average esthetician salary for all jobs with the term “master esthetician” anywhere in the job listing.
Average Esthetician Salary
Job Outlook for Estheticians
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment growth within the skin care specialty sector is expected to be much higher than average, at 40% from 2012-2022 Salaries for skin care estheticians and medical aestheticians range depending, of course, on the years of experience. Naturally, those with one year of experience may earn less than individuals with over five years of experience. As of 2012, skin care specialists in general earned a median hourly wage of $13.77.
The job outlook for an esthetician is excellent. Licensed professionals encounter an overall promising job outlook that includes positions ranging from cosmetics to medical care. A growing number of beauty salons and spas across the nation have led to an enhanced general job outlook for estheticians.
This should lead to good job opportunities in the field as advancements in skincare techniques and products are appealing to an increasingly greater number of people who are trying to look their best and stay healthy. The anticipated addition of 11,700 licensed esthetician jobs by 2020 will bring the estimated total of skincare specialists working in the United States to 59,300. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that states with the highest employment level for this occupation include California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Massachusetts.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for a skin esthetician is expected to grow 25% from 2010 to 2020, which is faster than the average for all other occupations. In 2010, there were about 47,600 jobs for skincare specialists, where 47% found employment within the personal-care esthetician services industry. About 37% of licensed estheticians were self-employed.
The BLS reports that the sectors with the highest concentration of jobs for the field are personal care services with 22,520 employees, 3,600 medical esthetician jobs within physician’s offices, other recreation sectors like spas with 1,430 employees, travel accommodations with 1,360 employees, and other miscellaneous personal services with 210 employees.
The demand for new opportunities in health and beauty services has caused growth within the skin esthetician field. Technological advancements have made it much simpler for people to correct physical flaws such as serious acne, unwanted hair, and highly-visible scars.
Estheticians provide services that are highly sought after within an appearance-conscious society, including laser hair removal and electrolysis. There are several new esthetician services cropping up such as quick mini-facials offered at considerably lower cost, and there are some estheticians who now supply mobile services or make personal house calls.
Career Paths Estheticians can Take
Since estheticians are able to work in a variety of employment settings, including salons, health and beauty spas, and medical offices, they encounter an overall increasing number of esthetics career opportunities throughout the industry.
Every day, more Americans are taking part in such treatments, and they’re available in a wide range of industries from hotels, plastic surgery clinics, rehabilitation spas, private practices, and small, local beauty salons.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, skincare specialists in every state must complete a state-approved cosmetology program and pass a state exam to obtain their license before accepting a job in the field.
Newly hired specialists sometimes undergo on-the-job training which increase their chances of finding employment when acquiring a range of specialty skills and experience. Overall, the number of esthetician careers is definitely on the rise.
Financial Aid for Esthetician Students
Many students to do not consider the option of financial aid when they consider esthetics school cost. These are not options that will necessarily be handed to you. Instead, one must actively seek out and apply for this type of assistance for their tuition and expense needs.
The Federal Pell Grant Program provides need-based grants to low-income students. Pell Grants do not need to be repaid! Grant award amounts are determined by factors such as: Parent income (if student is dependent), student income (if student is independent), family’s household size, and other factors. Qualifying students can receive up to $7,400 from federal pell grants.
Students or parents can borrow money through the Department of Education’s loan programs. These loans are not credit based. Everyone qualifies for the loans regardless of credit history. The interest on the loans are paid for by the government while students are attending esthetician classes. No payments are due until 6 months after graduation. The current interest rate on these loans is 6.8%.
Typical Day in the Life of an Esthetician
An esthetician’s workday usually starts with checking their appointment schedule. This dictates the entire flow of their day and it is very important to keep appointments in the time frame allotted.
Calling and confirming appointments for the next day can always be done between appointments. Starting the day with a brief check of how many clients or patients are to be seen and how much allotted time there is for each of them will keep the you focused.
Prepping the treatment room is done every day as well as between each client visit. It will include setting up any supplies or equipment required and sanitizing everything. Make sure that all supplies that are required are prepped and ready to go.
A prepared esthetician enhances client confidence. It harms your business if you do not have all of your required supplies or are missing any tools needed to perform a service. Setting up the work space may also include dimming the lights, or light music, or aromatherapy to aid in the client’s relaxation.
When a client or patient arrives, regardless of whether they are a repeat customer or a new client, you will have a general consultation. There are several things that can change the dynamics of a person’s skin. It is very important to get in touch with each client about how their skin react to different treatments. The consultation may last a only a few minutes depending on the questions you need to ask. These questions will be determined by the services to be performed.
Performance of any treatment should be done in a relaxed environment. Talking to the client and letting them know exactly what you are doing will create a more relaxed environment and will allow the client to know what to expect during the treatment. Pampering them and helping them relax will enhance any treatments or procedures. The clients should always look and feel better when they walk out the door than when they first walked in.
Benefits of Being an Esthetician
A career in esthetics is a very fulfilling thing. The individual processes are satisfying and the work itself highly rewarding.
Helping people be more confident and less self-conscious brings satisfaction that a lot of other careers don’t have. If you think this may be the right career for you it may be time to check in with your local state board and start getting those applications in!
Final Thoughts – “Should I Become an Esthetician?”
Hopefully you now have all the information you’ll need to know if venturing into this exciting career is for you.
If you are at all interested in any of the many facets of esthetics and truly enjoy helping others look and feel their best, than a career in esthetics may be for you.