Clinical estheticians vary from general estheticians in that they are more medical-based, caring for patients who have a medical need for regenerative skincare. In addition to clinical duties, they might also need an understanding of medical terminology, billing issues and insurance. The courses offered in clinical esthetician programs are not typically standardized, since states don't offer licenses for medical estheticians. Individuals can obtain a certificate in medical esthetics that teaches the basis of esthetic principals and practices. Completing these programs generally takes two semesters, but some intensive programs can take less than four months to finish. Another option for clinical esthetician training is an associate's degree in esthetics, which takes two years to complete. Combined with general education courses, these programs also teach various skin care techniques and applications.
Applicants for either a certificate in medical esthetics or an associate's degree in esthetics are required to have a high school diploma or its equivalent.
Certificate in Medical Esthetics
Students in medical or clinical esthetic programs learn to help patients regain control over their appearance and reestablish self-esteem in the face of disfigurements and the visible indications of illness. While enrolled in a certificate program in medical esthetics, students learn how to work in medical settings, prepare a client's skin for surgery or determine new color charts for patients whose hair and skin colors have changed because of chemotherapy. They also learn how to perform chemical skin peels, lymph drainage massages, how to apply camouflage makeup and eyelash extensions. While completing studies in this certificate program, applicants may need to have a valid state-issued general esthetics license to practice since licensure is not offered for clinical estheticians. Some other areas covered in the program include:
- Skin disease
- Infection control
- Color theory
- Business skills
Associate Degree in Esthetics
Though uncommon, some colleges and vocational schools offer associate's-level medical or paramedical esthetician training. Programs offering concentrations in this field might confer an Esthetician Associate of Applied Science or an Associate of Science in Paramedical Skin Care degree. Similar to certificate programs, some degree programs are able to offer training regardless of standardization, as long as a student is already licensed as an esthetician or doesn't require licensure. However, students with no background or training in esthetics may want to enroll in a degree program that can prepare them for general esthetician licensure, as well as provide them with specific training in medical esthetics. Associate's degrees in esthetics offer training in advanced skin care theories and techniques, like microdermabrasion. Coursework also includes dermatopathology and the application of camouflage makeup for patients having cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries. Programs also typically cover the following:
- Dermal oncology
- Relaxation techniques
- Clinical dermatology
- Medical terminology
- Chemical skin peels
Popular Career Options
Trained clinical estheticians are employable in a variety of professional medical settings. Potential employment locations include:
- Dermatology offices
- Physicians' offices
- Plastic surgery clinics
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates an expected increase of 12% for skin care specialist job opportunities from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). In 2015, the BLS reported that skincare specialists took home a median annual wage of $30,090.
Many states require general estheticians to gain licensure, though separate licensure for clinical estheticians is not offered. Licensing boards may require aspiring estheticians to take courses that are standardized by an organization, such as the National Association of Career Colleges (NACC). State requirements for general estheticians can differ, usually varying the number of training hours required. Some states offering esthetician licensure require professionals to complete continuing education hours in order to renew licensure each year. All aspiring clinical estheticians should look into state licensing regulations to determine what specific types of classes are required.
Not all states require continuing education to maintain a license as an esthetician. However, some schools and for-profit learning centers offer practical courses for those that do require professional development or for students who'd like to advance their skills. Additionally, joining a professional organization, such as the National Society for Paramedical Esthetic Professionals, could offer continuing education opportunities and career guidance.
Medical estheticians work in clinical settings alongside physicians and specialize in medical care for the skin. Training programs for medical estheticians include certificates in medical esthetics or associate's degrees in esthetics, while professional development courses allow medical estheticians to further their education and to fulfill the requirements for licensing that some states mandate.