How to Become a Cosmetic Nurse: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Learn how to become a cosmetic nurse. Research the education and career requirements, training and licensure information and experience required for starting a career in aesthetic nursing.

Should I Become a Cosmetic Nurse?

Cosmetic nurses, more commonly known as aesthetic nurses or plastic surgical nurses, are responsible for assisting with clinical procedures as well as pre- and post-operative care of patients. These professionals are usually registered nurses (RNs) or nurse practitioners (NPs), also called advanced practice registered nurses (APRN). Common procedures these nurses carryout include dermal filler and neurotoxin injections, laser hair removals and non-invasive body contouring. They may see patients independently; although, treating patients will likely be done under the supervision of a medical doctor. Cosmetic nurses commonly work at outpatient surgical centers and medical spas, and may work part-time or full-time hours.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree; master's degree needed to pursue optional education as a nurse practitioner
Degree Field Nursing
Experience 2 to 3 years of experience typically required
Licensure and Certification A state-issued RN license is required, voluntary certification is available
Key Skills Interpersonal, communication and critical-thinking skills, compassion, attention to detail, physical stamina
Salary $69,790 per year (2014 average salary for all registered nurses)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Online Job Postings (August 2015)

Step 1: Earn a Nursing Degree

Cosmetic nurse positions typically require that candidates have a registered nurse (RN) or nurse practitioner (NP) license, which constitutes having at least a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). A master's degree is the minimum education needed to work as a nurse practitioner. However, this job does not require having an advanced nursing degree since the RN or NP requirement is interchangeable.

Success Tip:

  • Explore cosmetic nursing specialization. In some cases, nurses who are interested in cosmetic nursing can begin seeking experience in their specialization while still in school. Some education institutions offer training in areas such as fat grafting, liposuction, chemical peel and dermal filler.

Step 2: Obtain a Nursing License

The next step for prospective cosmetic nurses is to obtain an RN license. Candidates must complete the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN) examination as well as graduate from an approved nursing program. Some licensing requirements for registered nurses may vary by state. Those who wish to pursue optional licensing as an advance practice registered nurse (APRN) must already posses an RN license and will need to pass an additional exam.

Step 3: Gain Experience in Cosmetic Nursing

Once licensed, individuals can find employment at plastic surgery and medial spa centers as an assistant to a cosmetic nurse. Since cosmetic nurses typically need at least two years of experience to practice, newly-licensed nurses may benefit from job shadowing opportunities. During shadowing, individuals may learn about common cosmetic nurse job functions, such as assessing skin aging, administering botox injections and performing post-operative care.

Step 4: Consider an Aesthetic Nurse Specialist Certification

Although voluntary, obtaining this specialty certification can demonstrate to prospective employers that a nurse has competency in carrying out cosmetic procedures. The Certified Aesthetics Nurse Specialist (CANS) credential is available through the Plastic Surgical Nursing Certification Board (PSNCB). Eligibility requirements for the CANS exam include having an RN license and two years of experience as an RN with one of those years working in facial plastic surgery ENT, plastic/aesthetic surgery, dermatology or ophthalmology. Those who pass the exam must recertify every three years by accruing 45 contact hours through continuing education.

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