How to Become an Aesthetician in 5 Steps
Research what it takes to become an aesthetician. Learn about education and licensure requirements, salary and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you.
What Does an Aesthetician Do?
Aestheticians are skin care professionals, associated with the medical industry, who treat patients and clients in various settings. During a client consultation, an aesthetician evaluates a client's skin and then creates an individualized treatment plan. This could include incorporating new skin care products into their skin care regime, hair removal, and various facial treatments like masks and peels. Some aestheticians may own their own salons and will be required to perform a number of managerial duties. The following chart provides an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.
|Education Required||Professional certificate or associate's degree|
|Education Field of Study||Make-up techniques; hair removal; nutrition; dermatology; anatomy|
|Key Responsibilities||Perform cosmetic skin care, treat patients for skin conditions following medical procedures|
|Licensure||License required, state requirements vary|
|Job Growth (2020-2030)||29% (for all skincare specialists)*|
|Median Salary (2020)||$36,510 (for all skincare specialists)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Is an Aesthetician?
An aesthetician is a licensed skin care professional who specializes in improving the appearance of skin after medical procedures or trauma, using non-surgical techniques. The terms 'aesthetician' and 'esthetician' are often synonymous. However, estheticians are usually associated with work in personal care settings, such as salons, while aestheticians are associated with work in the medical industry. As an aesthetician, you'll provide cosmetic skin care services with a medical emphasis. Aestheticians with this specialized training are sometimes also referred to as medical aestheticians, clinical aestheticians or paramedical aestheticians.
Step 1: Get Trained
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that training requirements for personal appearance workers vary with each state and employer (www.bls.gov). Generally, aesthetician training requirements range from a high school diploma or GED with on-the-job training, to formal education offered through vocational schools.
One training option involves completing a medical aesthetician or paramedical aesthetician diploma or associate's degree program at a trade school or other organization. The length of these programs varies, with most lasting 1-2 years. Coursework may include make-up techniques, hair removal, nutrition, dermatology and facial treatments. Programs also might contain medical-related coursework in pathology, chemistry and anatomy.
You can pursue another formal training option by completing a cosmetology diploma, certificate or associate's degree program at a vocational school or community college. These programs will train you on cosmetic techniques, including basic skin care, hair removal, body wraps and make-up applications.
Step 2: Obtain Your License
The BLS reported that all aesthetician workers must receive licensure to see patients. Licensing qualifications and exams are governed at the state level and can vary. You'll want to contact your state board for specific licensure information. According to the BLS, you'll typically need to complete an approved training program, pass an exam and pay a licensing fee.
Step 3: Acquire Work Experience
As an aesthetician, you can work in non-medical environments, such as cosmetic stores, specialty department counters, spas and beauty salons. With a medical specialization, you can also work for healthcare providers, such as plastic surgeon and dermatologist centers or private offices and hospitals. The BLS reported that as of May 2020, skincare specialists earned an annual median salary of $36,510 (www.bls.gov). Your individual salary is contingent upon several factors, such as your extent of training and your specific employer.
Step 4: Join a Trade Organization
If interested in gaining greater skin care resources, you can consider joining an aesthetician trade organization. Benefits of trade association membership include networking opportunities and educational programs. Trade organizations are usually available at the regional and national levels. Examples of trade organizations that you can join include the Aesthetics International Association and Associated Skin Care Professionals.
Step 5: Stay Current
Participating in continuing education and staying current on industry updates, such as legislative activities and new technologies, are crucial to your daily activities as an aesthetician. Continuing education may also be required for license renewal. Updates and continuing education programs are provided by some employers, but are also available through trade organizations and some state licensing boards. To renew your skin care license, you might also need to pay a renewal fee.
What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?
There are a number of related careers in the beauty industry, both in skincare and beyond. Individuals may be interested in becoming massage therapists where they could help relieve clients' stress and heal muscle injuries. Working as a manicurist or pedicurist is another possibility which involves working with clients' nails, hands, and feet. Finally, there are a number of careers in hairdressing and cosmetology.