Should I Become a Certified Esthetician?
Estheticians, or aestheticians, are skin care specialists who typically work in spas and salons to provide a variety of treatments for their clients. Some of the typical duties of an esthetician include performing deep skin cleansing and treatments, hair removal, and massages. Estheticians also recommend skincare treatments, products and regimens to their clients.
Many estheticians are self-employed, which allows them to set their schedules and work where they wish. However, these professionals still often need to work evenings and weekends. Skin care specialists also spend much of their time standing and may be exposed to harmful chemicals.
|Degree Level||Certificate or associate's degree|
|Degree Field||Cosmetology or esthetician program|
|Licensure||All states require licensing except Connecticut|
|Experience||Varies; some employers may require at least two years|
|Key Skills||Excellent customer service skills, communication skills, time management and monitoring abilities, understanding of the tools used for facial procedures and extractions, familiarity with medical, spreadsheet and word processing software, a professional appearance, the ability to stand for prolonged periods of time, and the willingness to work evenings and weekends|
|Salary (2014)||$29,050 (Median)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; O*NET OnLine; Online job postings (August 2015).
Step 1: Complete an Approved Cosmetology or Esthetician Program
According to the BLS, most states require cosmetologists to be at least 16 years old, have a high school diploma or GED and have completed an approved cosmetology program. These programs are typically offered at community or technical colleges and can usually be completed in two years or less. State-approved cosmetology or esthetician programs blend traditional classroom lectures with hands-on training. The hands-on portion can be completed through internship opportunities or lab sessions.
These programs allow students to learn about cosmetology laws, ethics, management and sales. Proper disinfection techniques are discussed in safety and sanitation courses. In practical courses, students become acquainted with facial, massage, makeup application, and hair removal techniques.
- Improve customer service skills. Since estheticians work directly with clients, they should have must good communication and interpersonal skills. Time spent in practical sessions, or field experiences, help to improve listening and speaking skills with clients, instructors and fellow students.
- Practice hands-on techniques. Estheticians need to hone their techniques and manual skills performing skin care services. While still in school, students can recruit friends and family members as volunteers for facials, or other skin care services to get more practice. Self-practice can also be a good way to improve their skills.
Step 2: Earn State Licensure
Every state has varying requirements for esthetician licensing. To become eligible, most state boards require an individual to have completed a minimum number of hours of approved education, which includes both theoretical and practical courses. After this requirement has been met, an individual needs to take the state licensing exam, which may include both written and practical components.
- Consider professional certification. Certification can be earned on a voluntary basis for experienced estheticians that wants to show their dedication and commitment to the field. Earning certification can distinguish an individual and show employers and clients a professional's level of expertise. A licensed esthetician that has two years of verifiable work experience can qualify for voluntary certification through organizations, such as the National Coalition of Estheticians, Manufacturers/Distributors and Associations (NCEA). The NCEA's certification process entails studying a training manual in order to successfully sit for the certification exam. Once the exam is passed, the esthetician is NCEA Certified.
Step 3: Gain Work Experience
After becoming licensed, an esthetician can go on to apply for entry-level positions. While certification may be optional, most employers may require a minimum number of years of work experience. This allows estheticians to establish themselves within the field and obtain a client base.
Step 4: Meet Continuing Education Requirements
Once an individual is licensed, they should check with their state board for any license renewal and continuing education requirements. For example, the Tennessee Board of Cosmetology requires esthetician renewals every two years. Not only does continuing education meet state license renewal requirements, but also it can help estheticians stay abreast of new facial techniques, research studies and products.