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Esthetician: How Do I Become an Esthetician

Find out how to become an esthetician. Research the education and career requirements, and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in skin esthetics.

Should I Become an Esthetician?

An esthetician is a skin care professional in the cosmetology field. Most of these professionals perform facial and body treatments that enhance the skin's appearance and overall health. They perform waxing treatments to remove unwanted body hair, or administer head and neck massages. Estheticians work with clients to create skin care regimens that will best suit the client's skin type. Protective clothing is required when working with chemicals, and many of these specialists work evenings and weekends.

Career Requirements

Degree LevelCertificate from an accredited cosmetology program, associate's degree
Degree FieldEsthetics, cosmetology
LicensureState-issued license
ExperienceFor entry-level, no experience necessary
Key SkillsStamina, customer-service, sales skills, know how to operate hair removal lasers, hand massagers and electronic exfoliators
Salary (2015)$30,158 per year (Median salary for all estheticians)

Source: PayScale.com

Step 1: Earn an Esthetician or Cosmetology Certificate or Degree

Formal training and education to become an esthetician is completed through community colleges, cosmetology schools or technical institutes. Certificate programs usually take only one or two semesters to finish. The number of contact and classroom hours varies by program and is dependent on the state licensing requirements. A certificate program contains courses in various aspects of health and safety, as well as different types of services including body polishing, self-tanning and makeup application.

Alternatively, aspiring estheticians have the option to earn an associates degree in cosmetology with an emphasis in esthetics. Courses generally explore topics in skin disorders, hair removal and nutrition. Most programs also require students to complete internships in salons. Under the supervision of licensed professionals, students get clinical practice with massaging techniques, skin analysis and product application.

Success Tip:

  • Take business courses to expand self-employment opportunities. Taking business courses as electives helps aspiring estheticians open their own salons, or freelance their services. Marketing courses also are beneficial.

Step 2: Obtain Licensure

In addition to completing a state-approved training program, prospective candidates must pass a licensing examination. The exam includes both a written and a physical exam in which the licensee must demonstrate knowledge of sanitation and safety, as well as his or her ability to perform common tasks associated with the job. Some states have minimum age requirements (such as 16 years old), so it's important for candidates to research the state regulations. All 50 states require estheticians to be licensed to practice. License renewal varies by state, but may occur every two years.

Step 3: Continue Education for Career Advancement

A variety of continuing education options are available to licensed estheticians, including classes, seminars and workshops. Continuing education courses cover topics such as aromatherapy, chemical peeling and product promotion and sales. Continuing education enables estheticians to stay current with industry trends, and expands their career opportunities and eligibility for promotions.

Success Tip:

  • Join a professional organization. Organizations like the Associated Skin Care Professionals, or the Aesthetics International Association provides an esthetician with a variety of benefits, including networking opportunities and continuing education options.

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