Laser technicians can find employment at spas and medical centers or in dermatologist offices. Training to become a certified laser technician includes classroom and hands-on experience. There are many certification options to choose from but different states have different education and experience requirements for laser technicians to be able to work.
A certified laser technician performs cosmetic procedures that remove unwanted hair, cellulite and tattoos, as well as rejuvenating skin. Training programs for laser technicians usually award a certificate upon completion. A number of voluntary certifications are available in this field, including Certified Laser Hair Removal Specialist or Certified Laser Operator.
|Required Education||Depends on level of certification desired*|
|Other Requirements||State licensure|
|Projected Job Growth (2014 and 2024)||12% (all skincare specialists)**|
|Median Annual Salary (2015)||$30,090 (all skincare specialists)**|
Sources: *National Council on Laser Certification, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Training for aspiring certified laser technicians can be completed in a short period of time through a vocational program. Some programs restrict enrollment to nurses or licensed aestheticians or cosmetologists. Coursework is typically divided into classroom training and hands-on experience in using a laser. Topics of study include laser devices, laser safety, physics, regulatory guidelines, hair removal, tattoo removal and collagen rejuvenation.
Laser technician certification can be earned through the National Council on Laser Certification (NCLC). Applicants must complete an accredited training program, meet clinical experience requirements and pass an exam to gain certification. A few training institutes include the NCLC examination and certification process at the end of their program curriculum.
Certain states have licensing and registration requirements for laser technicians, with some requiring nursing credentials to operate a laser. Students should research which states have licensing and registration requirements prior to enrolling in a program.
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Training should qualify laser technicians to work under supervision at a medical spa or laser center. Laser technicians also might work in a dermatologist's office, assisting the doctor. In most states, those with basic laser training can operate a laser, but the treatments they are allowed to perform might be limited by cosmetology and medical laws.
Lasers are risky to operate; because of this, a set of standards for safety has been established by the American National Standard Institute (ANSI). To make sure these standards are met, ANSI requires facilities that offer laser treatments to have a laser safety officer (LSO) coordinate a safe laser program.
Since demand for personal care services is on the rise, the job outlook for certified laser technicians is favorable. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected 12% growth in job opportunities for skin care specialists, including laser technicians, between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). Also according to the BLS, the median salary for all skin care specialists, including laser hair removal technicians, was $30,090, as of May 2015.
The job outlook for laser technicians in the next decade is promising. The minimum training for a certified laser technician depends on the certification that is being pursued. Most training programs are short and provide an understanding of hair and tattoo removal and skin revitalization. Certification can be obtained by passing an exam once a technician has finished a training program and gained work experience.