How to Become a Medical Aesthetician in 5 Steps

Research what it takes to become a medical aesthetician. Learn about job duties, education requirements and licensure 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 Medical Aesthetician?

A medical aesthetician consults with patients who have had facial surgery or trauma and provides skin treatments for them. Treatments may include massages, scrubs, masks, peels, depilatories and laser hair removal treatments, cleansers, lotions and creams. The aesthetician might recommend home use of the products in question or give the patient the necessary care in a sterile work environment. Medical aestheticians need to have a thorough understanding of the products and treatments they use, as well as strong communication skills for clients and patients.

The following chart provides an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Education Required Cosmetology program or associate's degree; advanced training for medical aestheticians may be necessary
Education Field of Study Anatomy; physiology; aesthetician laboratory; skin disorders; aromatherapy
Key Responsibilities Perform facial massage on surgery patients, choose makeup and foundation to complement patient's complexions, sterilize equipment, maintain patient records
Licensure/Certification License required, requirements vary by state; Optional certification available
Job Growth (2014-2024) 12% (skincare specialists)*
Median Salary (2015) $30,090 (skincare specialists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Would I Do as a Medical Aesthetician?

Medical aestheticians are licensed, professional skin care specialists who perform their duties under the supervision of physicians, dermatologists and plastic surgeons. It would be your job to improve and beautify facial skin, through non-surgical means, for patients that have had facial surgery or suffered injuries to their faces.

You'd likely work with burn patients and with those who have cancer and lost their eyebrows and lashes as a result of chemotherapy treatments. It would be your responsibility to show clients how to use foundation, make-up and powder to minimize the appearance of skin traumas.

Step 1: Research Job Duties

Your day-to-day tasks would involve closely examining skin with magnifying lamps, choosing make-up colors which flatter clients' skin tones, providing facial massage treatments before and after plastic surgeries, removing blackheads and performing skin exfoliation treatments. You'll choose which cleansers, creams, peels and lotions you believe to be the best for your clients' skin. You'd also ensure that the equipment is sterilized regularly and that detailed patient records are well-maintained.

Step 2: Pursue the Requisite Education

You'll need formal training to become a medical aesthetician. You could start by enrolling in a skin care program at a general cosmetology school that has been approved by the board of cosmetology in your state. Training times may vary, but cosmetology school programs can last up to nine months.

Community colleges and vocational schools also have certificate and associate's degree programs in general aesthetics. After completing a general aesthetics program, you might have to undergo additional, advanced training to specialize in medical aesthetics. This can be done on the job, or through a supplemental training program. Certificate and associate's degree programs in aesthetics with a medical aesthetics emphasis are also available, but they're much less common than programs in general aesthetics.

Typical curricula include classes on salon management, physiology, aesthetician laboratory, disorders and diseases of the skin, advanced topics in aromatherapy and aesthetics, and cosmetic chemistry. Also, if your aesthetics program doesn't offer them, consider taking additional college science courses on anatomy and biology to prepare for the medical aspects of your career.

Step 3: Obtain a License

Medical aestheticians must be licensed before providing care to clients on a professional basis. Licensing requirements may vary depending on the state you live in. Many states simply require general aesthetician's licenses, and your work as a medical aesthetician would be under the license of the physician or hospital hiring you. To earn a general aesthetics license, you'll need to be at least 16 years old and a graduate of a state-approved aesthetics program. You must successfully pass a state-administered licensing examination that may consist of oral, written and practical sections. You may need to renew your license within a specified time frame.

Step 4: Acquire a Medical Aesthetician Credential

Medical aesthetics certifications are available to you once you graduate from a licensed school of cosmetology. Independent training providers and organizations, rather than schools or colleges, generally offer these programs. You'll gain knowledge of such subjects as advanced skin care practices, skin nutrition, clinical skin care applications, Botox, rosacea and medical resurfacing techniques. You'll have the opportunity to work with actual clients under supervised conditions. Upon completion of such a program, you'll need to pass a certification examination to earn certification.

Step 5: Consider Further Career Options

As a medical aesthetician, you may have opportunities to advance your career by specializing further. You could work exclusively with specific groups of patients, like those with cancer or those who've suffered burns or other traumatic facial injuries. With additional training, you might even teach aesthetics and cosmetology courses at a community college or technical school.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Medical aestheticians use some of the same treatment methods as skincare specialists in cosmetology establishments. However, their clientele is likely to differ in terms of urgency and severity. Cosmetology skin care specialists may also develop other beauty techniques such as hairdressing and manicure/pedicure treatments.

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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