How Can I Become a Licensed Aesthetician?

Research what it takes to become an aesthetician. Learn about educational requirements, job duties, average wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Esthetics degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Licensed Aesthetician?

Aestheticians are skin care specialists who use their knowledge to help customers improve the look and condition of their skin. In most cases, aestheticians' work environment is a salon or similar type of personal care business. They provide treatments such as facials or massages, but also regularly work with clients to teach them about skin care, evaluate their options for treatment or help them select products. Because these are regular parts of an aesthetician's job, it is important that they have good interpersonal and communication skills.

Many aestheticians are self-employed. If you opt for this path, or if you operate your own salon, you could also need to manage staff or inventory, and you may want to supplement your business by selling skin care products. The following chart gives you an overview of what you need to know about becoming a licensed skin care specialist, or aesthetician.

Education Required Post-secondary vocational diploma or certificate, or associate's degree
Licensure/Certification State licensure is required, but the qualifications vary from state to state
Key Skills Treating the appearance of facial skin, customer service skills, physical stamina, initiative to gain new clients
Job Growth (2014-2024) 12% (faster than average)*
Average Salary (2015) $35,300*

Source: *United States Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Job Duties of a Licensed Aesthetician?

As a licensed aesthetician, you treat the skin on the face to improve appearance. You may exfoliate clients' skin, apply concealing makeup and recommend products for use at home. You may also help patients learn how to care for their skin, avoid acne or other blemish problems, cover up moles or age spots and provide soothing masks.

You could also find work as a medical aesthetician. In this role, you may treat skin that has undergone trauma such as burns, lacerations or sun damage. Your job duties may include teaching patients how to prepare skin before an operation and how to properly care for skin that has underwent surgery. You might also find work in a plastic surgeon's office.

What Training or Education Is Required for This Job?

All states require aestheticians to be licensed to prove their skills and competency to consumers. Requirements for licensing usually include meeting education standards and passing a skills examination. To qualify for licensing in most states, you need to complete a state-approved aesthetician training program. Diploma, certificate or associate's degree programs typically satisfy this requirement, and they may be offered through technical schools, vocational colleges or universities.

Training programs usually include courses on skin analysis, medical terminology, anatomy, chemistry, massage and makeup application. Further training may be offered on the job, where you may learn about specific treatment techniques, specialty care procedures and office equipment use.

How Much Can I Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national mean annual income for skin care specialists was $35,300, as of May 2015 ( The BLS noted that, of the roughly 55,000 individuals employed as skin care specialists in 2014, 49% of them worked in personal care services in salon-type settings, and 3 in 10 were classified as self-employed.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Barbers, hairdressers and massage therapists all have similar job duties and work environments to those of an aesthetician. All are typically based in a salon or spa, and the minimum educational requirement for each of these careers is completion of a certificate or diploma program. Barbers and hairdressers provide hair-related services such as cutting and styling. Massage therapists use touch techniques to manipulate clients' muscles and soft tissue. Their goal is to improve circulation or to provide relief from injury or stress.

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:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Fortis College

    Fortis College responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Fortis College:

    • Certificates

    Campus Locations:

    • Florida: Pensacola
  • Penn Foster High School

    Penn Foster High School responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Penn Foster High School:

    Online Programs Available

  • Cortiva Institute

    Cortiva Institute responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Cortiva Institute:

    • Certificates

    Campus Locations:

    • Florida: Maitland, Pinellas Park
  • Westside Tech

    Campus Locations:

    • Florida: Winter Garden
  • West Tennessee Business College

    Campus Locations:

    • 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

    Campus Locations:

    • Georgia: Valdosta
  • VICI Aveda Institute

    Campus Locations:

    • Wisconsin: Greenfield