Skin Care Training Programs and Requirements

Skin care technicians, also known as estheticians, provide cleansing skin care treatments, cosmetic beauty applications and therapeutic head and neck massages for diverse clientele. Skin care education involves the study of skin, its functions and diseases, clinical skin care treatments and aesthetic beauty applications. Training for these skin care professionals involves completion of certificate, diploma, or associate's degree programs in skin care or cosmetology.

Essential Information

Many skin care professionals seek formal training by completing certificate or diploma programs. These programs train students to analyze skin, suggest appropriate beauty regimens and perform facials, massages and other skin care treatments. Accredited certificate and diploma programs also prepare skin care professionals to sit for state-mandated licensing examinations.

Certificate, diploma and associate's degree programs for skin care professionals often include salon-style laboratories where students blend skin care theory with actual skin care procedures. Many programs use students as subjects or offer discounted services to the public in exchange for student training.

  • Program Levels in Cosmetology: Certificate, diploma, or associate's degrees.
  • Prerequisites: Most cosmetology programs require a GED or high school diploma.
  • Program Length: Many certificate and diploma programs last 9-24 months.
  • Other Requirements: Most cosmetology programs require hands-on salon experience.
  • Online Availability: Online programs are not available due to the hands-on nature of the training.

Cosmetology Certificate

A certificate program for skin care professionals is the quickest way to start a career in skin care. These programs usually last about one year and provide foundational training for estheticians. Coursework may include skin care theory, facials, bacteriology, sterilization and sanitation. Students may also take introductory courses in business and retail sales. Upon completion, graduates often seek entry-level skin care positions with private or franchise-oriented salons or independent boutique-style day spas.

Cosmetology Diploma

Diploma programs for skin care technicians last nearly two years and offer extensive training in skin care, salon management and therapeutic massage. Students take courses in anatomy, physiology, cosmetic chemistry, skin care analysis, nail care and make-up applications. They also study massage, nutrition, medical terminology and salon management. Graduates are capable of performing transdermal electrolysis, waxing, glycolic peels, light therapy and various make-up applications.

Associate's Degree in Cosmetology

Skin care professionals with associate degrees in cosmetology may perform specialized skin care procedures as well as offering guests traditional salon services, such as hair cutting, coloring, styling and manicures and pedicures. These degree programs utilize salon-style classrooms to teach courses in chemical hair applications, shampoo and scalp treatments, hair cutting, hair styling, nail care, business management and retail sales.

An associate's degree program in cosmetology may also lead to a career in skin care. However, it offers broad based personal appearance knowledge and skills, such as skin care analysis, cosmetic development and chemistry, make-up applications and identification of skin disorders, such as rosacea. Students don't just learn about skin care techniques and procedures. They also study salon management, hair cutting and styling, chemical applications, manicuring, pedicuring and scalp treatments. Graduates of accredited 2-year cosmetology degree programs are prepared to sit for licensing examinations and often manage salons and spas or even open their own businesses.

Licensure, Continuing Education and Certification Information

Skin care professionals work with diverse skin types. They must be able to analyze different skin types, conditions, disorders and diseases and be able to suggest cosmetic solutions or appropriate treatment options for patients to seek. Skin care technicians must also be savvy with aromatherapy, reflexology and hair removal.

All skin care technicians and cosmetologists are required to be licensed by their state. Requirements for licensure usually involve completion of an accredited skin care or cosmetology certificate or degree program and successful passing of state-mandated examinations. These examinations often include both written and competency-based sections. Although state requirements vary, continuing education credits are often necessary to maintain licensure.

Many vocational, trade or community colleges sponsor local annual professional development workshops, seminars and conferences for skin care professionals. The Associated Skin Care Professionals organization serves as the nation's largest professional association for skin care professionals. It offers national conferences, professional development opportunities and a forum for skin care technicians.

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