Aesthetician Career Options

Sep 12, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an aesthetician. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and career outlook to find out if this is the career for you.

To pursue a career as an aesthetician, a prospective applicant may need to complete a state-approved cosmetology or related program and then pass an exam for licensure. Aestheticians often work in plastic surgery offices, dermatology clinics, spas, beauty salons and the entertainment industry.

Essential Information

Aestheticians are skin care professionals who improve the appearance and overall health of facial skin. Their responsibilities range from pampering customers to helping patients recover from skin-related injuries, traumas and other skin conditions. Aestheticians must typically complete a state-approved cosmetology program and obtain state licensure to qualify for work.

Required Education State-approved cosmetology or aesthetician program
Other Requirements State licensure
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 11% for skincare specialists
Median Annual Wage (2018)* $15.05 per hour for skincare specialists

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Medical Aesthetician

A medical, or paramedical, aesthetician provides skin care treatment for patients undergoing medical operations or recovering from surgery or other medical procedures. They work in hospitals, physicians' offices, care centers and other healthcare facilities, often as full-time salaried employees.

Plastic surgeons and dermatologists hire aestheticians to perform a variety of procedures, including microdermabrasion, medical peels and laser enhancement procedures. Aestheticians working in hospitals soothe and care for patients coming out of surgery by helping them to feel and look their best. They use makeup to help chemotherapy patients be more comfortable with their appearance and teach burn victims to conceal injuries on the face.

In Spa Settings

Many aestheticians work in beauty salons, day and resort spas, cosmetic sections of department stores or specialty shops. They help people achieve and maintain healthy skin for a more attractive, youthful appearance. They may work either part- or full-time, seeing customers by appointment and on a walk-in basis. They are usually paid by the hour and receive tips from clients.

Aestheticians working in spas and shops perform cosmetic procedures and relaxation techniques to pamper and soothe customers. They give facials, makeovers, use body wraps, extractions and perform hair removal using waxing and electrical procedures. They give facial massages and apply masks using essential oils for relaxation. They offer skin consultations and tell customers which products to use based on a skin analysis and customers' personal preferences. During slow periods, they may do more mundane tasks to help keep the business running smoothly, such as cleaning up and restocking products.


Aestheticians working independently may lease space in salons or spas, own their own businesses or work from home. Self-employed aestheticians are responsible for building a clientele that is large and dependable enough to sustain their practice. They must attract new clients by networking and marketing their business and be able to maintain existing clients by establishing a good reputation, which may take years. Those leasing a space in a spa or salon may be given the tools and products needed to run their practice, while those working alone must invest in these items.

In the Entertainment Industry

Some aestheticians use their skills to apply makeup to performance artists, actors and others for special events. Also called makeup artists, they find work in theater and production companies, television stations and the film industry. They may work as freelancers on a contract basis for special events, like weddings and runway fashion shows. They work in makeup studios and television and movie sets. Candidates must establish a good reputation and gain years of experience to enter the entertainment industry. Job opportunities are concentrated in larger cities and tend to be more competitive.

Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for aestheticians and other skin care specialists are expected to grow 11% over the period 2018-2028, a rate much faster than the average for all jobs. This large growth in employment may be due to the popularity of skin care procedures for improving appearance and overall health. Improvements in technology, combined with the aging of the population, is increasing the number of people who seek aesthetic procedures to either delay or counteract the effects of aging.

Aestheticians are generally paid by the hour and rely on tips for services performed, especially those working in salons, spas and stores. The BLS states that median hourly wages, including tips, were $15.05 for all skin care specialists in May 2018. Wages vary based on work location and establishment size. Aestheticians working in the offices of physicians generally earn the highest wages, with a median hourly wage of $19.35 in May 2018.

An aesthetician career typically requires individuals to work in salons, beauty and health spas or medical offices. A small number of aestheticians will be self-employed and will depend upon a client base; this requires excellent business and organizational skills. With the growing demand for beauty and skin care procedures, aestheticians have a higher than average occupational projection, at 11%, for 2018-2028.

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