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How Can I Become a Medical Esthetician?

A licensed medical esthetician is a skin specialist who provides care and treatment for the terminally ill, burn patients or those undergoing such procedures as chemotherapy, which may result in the loss of hair. This job requires formal training and licensure. Read about how you can meet these qualifications, and learn more about the job duties and earning potential of medical estheticians.

What is a Medical Esthetician?

A medical esthetician, or skincare specialist, is a professional who provides treatments to clients' skin in order to combat skin issues that have resulted due to illness or burns. These professionals must be knowledgeable about various skin conditions in order to administer the proper treatment and work with clients to help them create skincare routines. They may also work with dermatologists and other physicians and the creation of a treatment plan. The table below provides more details about this profession:

Education Required Diploma, Certificate, or Associate's Degree
Education Field of Study Cosmetology or esthetics training program
Key Responsibilities Consult with clients, perform various facial treatments, keep tools and workspace clean
Licensure Requirements Must seek licensure through the state
Job Growth (2020-2030) 29%* (for skincare specialists)
Median Salary (2020) $47,010* (for skincare specialists in physicians' offices)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education Will I Require to Become a Medical Esthetician?

Estheticians are trained through cosmetology programs. You can seek general training through state-approved cosmetology schools, vocational schools or community colleges. In order to specialize in medical esthetics, it will be necessary to receive on-the-job training in medical offices and acquire additional education. It is recommended that you take science classes such as anatomy and biology in order to prepare yourself for a career as a medical esthetician. Training programs vary in length and can last several months or take up to two years to complete.

You can train at the diploma, certificate and associate's degree level. Diploma-granting cosmetology programs include courses in marketing and sales, salon management and law, facial clinics, spa science, esthetics clinic and human relations. A certificate program might include courses such as personal grooming and hygiene, cosmetics composition and chemistry, skin care techniques, physiology, bacteriology, sanitation, make-up and the use of electrical tools. If you opt for an associate's degree program, you take classes such as anatomy and physiology, diseases and body systems, skin massage and analysis, medical terminology and kinesiology.

Will I Need to Become Licensed?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), state boards must license all personal-care workers. Licensing allows you to work in department stores, salons and spas. You could also work in a plastic surgeon's, dermatologist's or physician's office. Licensing requirements differ by state, so it's imperative that you check your individual state's laws. In general, you need to be at least 16 and complete a state-licensed cosmetology program. As part of your licensing examination, you showcase your written, oral and practical understanding of medical esthetics.

What Job Duties Will I Have?

Specific job duties depend on where you are employed. For example, if you work for a dermatologist, you might provide pore cleansing facials and exfoliation treatments for patients. In a doctor's office, you might assist cancer patients with measuring their brow lines so that they can draw natural-looking eyebrows. Or you might provide services in burn units and help patients cover any scarring with foundation and finishing powders.

If you're employed in a plastic surgeon's office, your duties might encompass giving preoperative and postoperative treatments to patients. Other job duties may include giving instruction on skin care, including cleansing and moisturizing technique. You also determine the right make up colors to complement clients' skin tone and personal style.

How Much Money Could I Earn?

The BLS reported that skin-care specialists who worked in physician's offices earned average yearly salaries of $47,010 as of 2020. Employees of health and personal-care stores were paid $40,910 on average. It was reported by PayScale.com as of November 2021 that medical estheticians were paid $50,421 per year.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you are primarily interested in skincare, you could also pursue a career as a general esthetician. These professionals focus more on cosmetic procedures, like waxing, facials, scrubs, and other skincare treatments. For those with a bigger interest in medicine, you could become a medical assistant with a similar level of education, though you would have to graduate from a medical assistant program rather than esthetics. You may also consider working as a massage therapist, which involves manipulating clients' muscles and tissues to alleviate pain and induce other physical benefits. This career requires at least a certificate, and state licensure is often required.