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.

Do I Want to Be an Esthetician?

An esthetician is a personal appearance professional in the cosmetology field who focuses on skin care. Most of these professionals perform facial and body treatments that enhance the skin's appearance and overall health. They may also perform waxing treatments to remove unwanted body hair or perform 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 often required when working with chemicals, and many of these specialists work evenings and weekends.

Job Requirements

Estheticians are required to hold a state-issued license and must complete a state-approved training or associate's degree program prior to obtaining licensure. The following table contains an overview of common requirements to become an esthetician as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

Common Requirements
Degree Level A certificate from an accredited cosmetology program is required; associate's degrees are also available and may expand career opportunities.
Degree Field Esthetics, cosmetology
Licensure Estheticians must earn a state-issued license by passing a licensing exam.
Experience Entry level; no experience necessary
Key Skills Estheticians need stamina because they work on their feet all day. Customer-service skills are also necessary, as are sales skills in order to market and sell facial products to customers.
Technical Skills Estheticians may need to operate a variety of tools, including hair removal lasers, hand massagers and electronic exfoliators.

Step 1: Earn an Esthetician or Cosmetology Certificate or Degree

Formal training and education to become an esthetician can be completed through community colleges, cosmetology schools or technical institutes. Certificate programs usually take only one or two semesters to complete. The number of contact and classroom hours varies by program and is usually dependent on the state licensing requirements. A certificate program will contain 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 associate's 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 may gain 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 can help aspiring estheticians open their own salons or freelance their services. Marketing courses may be helpful as well.

Step 2: Obtain Licensure

In addition to completing a state-approved training program, prospective candidates must pass a licensing examination. The exam typically 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

A variety of continuing education options are available to licensed estheticians, including classes, seminars and workshops. Continuing education courses could cover topics such as aromatherapy, chemical peeling and product promotion/sales. Continuing education will enable an esthetician to stay current with industry trends and may also expand his or her career opportunities and eligibility for promotions.

Success Tip:

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

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