Careers in Aesthetics

Research what it takes to pursue a career in the field of aesthetics. Read on to learn more about career options along with training and licensing information. Schools offering Esthetics degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does An Aesthetician Do?

The field of aesthetics focuses on beauty, especially skin care. Practitioners often are referred to as aestheticians, and they typically work in salon and spa settings. Aestheticians will pay close attention to a client's skin and help them decide what kind of treatment may be necessary for overall skin health. You may also clean skin, suggest products to customers, administer laser treatments and teach clients about how to properly care for their skin. Some aestheticians own their own businesses giving them a wide range of other duties including but not limited to hiring and managing staff as well as maintaining their business through advertising.

The table below offers a brief overview of some job duties, salary expectations and training information.

Degree Required Associate's degree, including required training hours
Education Field of Study Cosmetology
Licensing/Certification State licensing required and administered by state boards of cosmetology; ongoing renewals required
Key Responsibilities Customer service; facials and other skin care treatments; hair removal; aromatherapy; maintain safety and hygiene standards
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 12%
Median Salary (2015)* $30,090

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Jobs Can I Get in Aesthetics?

Aesthetics generally refers to outward appearance and beauty. Specialists in the field are usually known as skin care specialists or aestheticians. An aesthetician is responsible for the appearance of a client's skin. In this profession, you will do facials, facial massages, hair waxing, aromatherapy, chemical peels and more. You can also care for clients with acne-prone skin by performing extractions and facials designed specifically for people with this problem. Aestheticians typically work in beauty salons and day spas, as well as in hotels and even on cruise ships.

What Education Programs Are Available?

The most common degree program in aesthetics is an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Cosmetology with a specialization in aesthetics. While some schools offer associate's degrees in aesthetics, they are generally rare. Cosmetology training will allow you to train in student beauty salons where you get to work with real clients, learning how to treat skin through a variety of techniques. These degree programs require a set amount of training hours, generally around 600 hours, in order to meet state licensing requirements.

If you can't find an associate's degree program in aesthetics, you can enroll in a basic esthetician certificate program offered by community colleges and for-profit beauty schools. Successful completion of this program can qualify you to enroll in a master's aesthetician certificate program. You will receive the same basic training in aesthetics as in an associate's degree program but without taking general education courses.

How Do I Get Licensed?

Individual states determine licensing requirements for aestheticians, with state boards of cosmetology generally responsible for the licensing of aesthetics professionals. After completing your education program, you can apply for a state license. You will have to pass both written and practical exams. Periodic renewal of your license is generally required in order to keep practicing.

How Much Can I Earn?

How much you could earn depends on where you work. Generally, working for a beauty salon or spa that charges higher fees for services leads to a higher salary. Aestheticians also commonly receive tips. In May 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a median annual salary of $30,090 for skin care specialists. Jobs for skin care specialists are expected to increase by 12% from 2014-2024.

What Professional Organizations Can I Join?

The Aesthetics International Association (AIA) offers membership benefits like symposiums, workshops, classes and a continuing education program. The International Cosmetology Association offers benefits similar to AIA, but with additional perks, such as product discounts and the option to purchase liability and health insurance.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you don't feel that working in skin care is right for you, you may consider working as a barber or hairdresser. Barbers and hairdressers cut, style and color hair as well as help clients properly care for their hair at home by recommending products and hair care routines. Barbers deal primarily with men only while hairdressers work with both men and women. Barbers and hairdressers may also own their own businesses requiring more responsibilities. In this career field, you will generally need a high school diploma and will be required to carry a license for all states. Licenses can be obtained through cosmetology programs which may take up to 9 months to complete with some programs resulting in associate's degrees.

Another career option to consider would be massage therapy. Massage therapists train to relieve pain and discomfort through touch by loosening or easing muscles, increasing circulation and bringing relaxation to their clients. As a massage therapist, you may also aid clients in helping themselves at home through stretching or other relaxation techniques. The education required to become a massage therapist will vary by location though you will likely be required to have completed a massage therapy program through a community college or postsecondary school. Some states may require you to be licensed.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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Popular Schools

  • Empire Beauty School

    Empire Beauty School responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Empire Beauty School:

    • Certificates

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    • Maryland: Owings Mills
    • Pennsylvania: Owings Mills, Hanover
  • Penn Foster High School

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  • Westside Tech

    Campus Locations:

    • Florida: Winter Garden
  • West Tennessee Business College

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    • Tennessee: Jackson
  • West Georgia Technical College

    Campus Locations:

    • Georgia: Waco
  • W Academy of Salon and Spa

    Campus Locations:

    • California: Danville
  • Victoria's Academy of Cosmetology

    Campus Locations:

    • Washington: Kennewick
  • Wiregrass Georgia Technical College

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    • Georgia: Valdosta
  • VICI Aveda Institute

    Campus Locations:

    • Wisconsin: Greenfield