How to Become a Skin Specialist: Education and Career Roadmap

Research the requirements to become a skincare specialist. Learn about the job duties, and see the step-by-step process to start a career as a skincare specialist.

Should I Become a Skincare Specialist?

Skincare specialists are also known as aestheticians. These specialists work with customers to help achieve optimal skin and offer services that include removing unwanted hair and blemishes, advising customers on proper skincare, and evaluating customers' skin health. In addition, skincare specialists might help customers reduce signs of aging and sell products to help them develop a home skincare regimen.

Skincare specialists can find work at many places including salons, spas, health centers, and even medical offices. About a quarter of these workers were self-employed in 2012; self-employment can give skincare specialists schedule flexibility, but the job often comes with long hours. These professionals spend most days on their feet and must take care when working with chemicals.

Career Requirements

Degree Level High school diploma and postsecondary vocational training
Degree Field Cosmetology training specializing in skincare
Licensure All states except Connecticut require an exam to be licensed
Experience No experience necessary for entry-level positions
Key Skills Strong customer service skills and the ability to sell products, comfortable in intimate settings with clients, knowledge of skincare products and skin types
Salary (2014) The median salary for all aestheticians was $29,050 in 2014

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Complete Cosmetology Training in Skincare

Many cosmetology schools offer programs for aspiring aestheticians. Programs of study generally include instruction in anatomy and physiology, laws and regulations, safety procedures, hair removal, makeup application and how to administer facials. The program can take less than one year to compete.

Success Tip:

  • Take career and business courses. Salons may prefer that clients have sales experience and customer service skills. While some cosmetology students take courses in techniques that assist with the business end of esthiology such as selling strategies and client retention, others will receive on-the-job training in those areas. According to the BLS, 27% of skincare specialists were self-employed in 2012. Individuals who serve as independent contractors or are self-employed can use tools found in these courses to enhance their business.

Step 2: Work as an Apprentice

Some states will require aestheticians to have work experience as an apprentice prior to receiving a license. It is important to note that states may also have specific requirements for apprenticeships, so aestheticians should review the guidelines set in place by their state board. Some training programs will provide ways for students to earn an apprenticeship, while others require that students pursue this training on their own.

Step 3: Obtain a License

Upon completion of a state-approved training program and/or state-approved apprenticeship, aestheticians become eligible for licensure. Although the requirements for each state vary, applicants will likely have to submit proof of their training and take an exam. Prospective skin specialists may also need to complete a physical to sit for their state's licensing exam.

Step 4: Pursue Continuing Education

Some employers may require or prefer that aestheticians be aware of the latest skincare techniques. It is important to stay abreast of new and advanced techniques in skincare by taking additional training on those techniques.

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