Students interested in paramedical esthetics can choose between a certificate or an associate's degree. Certificates take roughly two semesters to complete, though accelerated courses can take under four months to finish. Applicants to these programs must be high school graduates; however, accelerated programs require that applicants also have a current state-issued license to practice esthetics.
Associate degrees are less common and are usually offered by for-profit schools. Programs at associate's level in this field can cover everything from nutrition to psychology and can take roughly two years to complete. Most schools do not have any additional prerequisites outside of high school diploma or GED equivalent. Due to the hands-on nature of these programs, online courses are typically not available.
Certificate in Paramedical Esthetics
Paramedical estheticians differ from traditional estheticians in that they regularly work with severely scarred skin, medical terminology, insurance billing issues and terminally ill patients. Clinical estheticians prepare patients for surgery, analyze complementary colors to skin and hair colors after changes due to chemotherapy and normalize physical appearance after a disfigurement. Techniques they use include chemical peels, lymphatic drainage massage, eyelash extensions and camouflage make-up.
Future clinical estheticians study skin diseases, chemical peels and color theory, in order to best treat patients' physical symptoms and improve their self-esteem after disfiguration. Topics of study include:
- Business skills
- Camouflage make-up
- Infection control
Associate Degrees Paramedical Esthetics
Though rare, some colleges and vocational schools offer associate's degree programs in paramedical esthetics, such as the Associate of Science (A.S.) in Natural Health with a concentration in advanced paramedical skin care or Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Esthetician with a medical esthetician emphasis. Schools that do offer this training are typically for-profit schools, which may not transfer to related bachelor's degree programs.
The goal of these programs is to equip paramedical students with skin care theory and techniques beyond introductory coursework. Emphasis will be placed on areas applicable to cosmetic surgery, reconstructive surgery, dermatopathology and camouflage makeup, as well as classes similar to the following:
- Advanced skin care peels
- Clinical dermatology
- Dermal oncology
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for skincare specialists are projected to increase 12% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). The BLS reported that the median annual salary for skin care specialists in 2015 was $30,090.
Continuing Education and Licensure
Medical skin care specialist programs are designed for estheticians interested in working in a clinical setting. Coursework is found at the certificate level and teaches students advanced skin care as well as medical terminology and the legal side of working in medical offices.
While all paramedical professionals work under a doctor's guidance, some states do not recognize a difference between paramedical and general estheticians. According to the National Society of Paramedical Esthetic Professionals (NSPEP), paramedical clinical estheticians are state-licensed professionals, while non-licensed estheticians working in a physician's office are called paramedical esthetic professionals (www.nspep.com). The state board of cosmetology runs licensing examinations; however, requirements vary by state.
Certificate programs in paramedical esthetics give students the skills and knowledge needed to become a licensed paramedical esthetician; associate programs are less common, but are also available. Licensure requirements vary from state to state, so be sure to investigate what the requirements are where you live.