How to Become a Licensed Aesthetician: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a licensed aesthetician. Research the job description and the education and licensing requirements and find out how to start a career in aesthetics.

Do I Want to Be a Licensed Aesthetician?

Aestheticians, also known as estheticians, are skin care professionals who provide services such as facials, waxing and skin treatments. You could work in a salon or spa, or you might choose to run your own business. During your work day, you'll probably do a lot of standing, and you'll handle chemicals used for skin treatments.

Evening and weekend work is not unusual for aestheticians. If you're self employed, you'll perform all of the tasks related to running a business, in addition to the time you spend with clients, so you can expect to work long hours.

Job Requirements

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that every state requires aestheticians to be licensed. To qualify for licensure, aspiring aestheticians usually must complete a state-approved training program and successfully pass the state licensing exam (an exam is not required in Connecticut). State-approved training programs can usually be found at community or technical colleges. The table below shows typical requirements for aestheticians, as reported by the BLS:

Common Requirements
Degree Level State-approved training program
Degree Field Aesthetics, esthetics or cosmetology
Licensure License required in all states
Experience Entry level
Key Skills Excellent customer service skills, physical stamina
Additional Requirements Ability to stand for prolonged periods of time, ability to work nights and weekends

Step 1: Complete an Approved Program

Aspiring aestheticians often pursue training through approved cosmetology programs, which include skin care as a core area of study and may result in an associate degree. However, many institutions also offer certificate programs in aesthetics that focus on skin care. Both types of programs blend traditional classroom lectures with hands-on training in a school's own salon or in school lab facilities. Aesthetics programs cover various skin care procedures, anatomy and physiology and makeup application; cosmetology programs include additional courses in hairstyling and hair coloring.

Success Tips:

  • Develop communication and customer service skills. Having a friendly and professional disposition is an important quality for aestheticians. Taking some elective or supplemental courses in public speaking, customer service or communications might help improve a student's listening, speaking and writing skills.
  • Use free time to practice. Due to the hands-on nature of aesthetics, a student might benefit from practicing skills, techniques and procedures learned in the program on his or her own time. Students might practice on themselves or ask willing friends and family to volunteer.

Step 2: Become a Licensed Aesthetician

According to the BLS, each state requires aestheticians to be formally licensed for employment. In general, state boards mandate a minimum number of hours of approved aesthetics training. After fulfilling education requirements, a licensure candidate must pass the state licensing exam, which includes written and practical sections.

Step 3: Complete Continuing Education

State licensing boards maintain continuing education requirements for license renewal. These requirements vary by state but can usually be met by taking approved courses or seminars that cover the latest techniques or products in the field.

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