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Aesthetician Programs by Program Level

Aesthetician programs are offered at both cosmetology schools and community colleges. Students can work to become an aesthetician, also called an esthetician or beautician, by earning a certificate or an associate's degree.

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Essential Information

Beautician programs are usually offered at community colleges or cosmetology schools, and award either an associate's degree or a certificate. They include lecture-based classroom sessions and hands-on training, although associate's programs may include additional coursework on the business side of the aesthetics industry. Both of these programs typically prepare students for professional licensure as well. Prerequisites for both programs include a high school diploma or an equivalent. Certificates take a year or less to learn, while associate's degrees take two years to complete.


Aesthetician Certificate

Aesthetician certificate and diploma programs usually focus on improving the appearance and health of specific area, such as fingernails and toenails, hair or skin. Students learn practical skills and theoretical background of beautification and often complete extensive hands-on training.

Aesthetician certificate program courses cover the scientific, social and business aspects of beauty service. Most programs also discuss specific facets of the field including skin care and hair care. Classes may discuss:

  • Skin care science
  • Skin disease identification
  • Customer service fundamentals
  • Hair design
  • Hair coloring

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Aesthetician and Skin Care
  • Barber and Hair Cutting Services
  • Beauty Salon Management
  • Cosmetology, Hair, and Nail Instructor
  • Electrolysis
  • Facial Treatment Specialist
  • Hair Design
  • Make-Up Artist
  • Nail Technician - Manicurist
  • Permanent Cosmetics and Tattooing

Associate of Applied Science - Aesthetician

Aesthetician associate's degree programs cover a broad range of cosmetology subjects, and programs typically allow students to choose one specialty. In addition to acquiring practical aesthetician skills, students learn about the financial and business aspects of working in spas, salons and beauty product sales centers. Most aesthetician associate's degree programs require students to complete a substantial general educational component. Core class topics cover the natural sciences, social science and business protocol. Students usually learn about the following subjects:

  • Skin health assessment
  • Physiology and anatomy
  • Salon management
  • Cosmetic chemistry and makeup
  • Pharmacology

Popular Career Options

People who earn an aesthetician certificate qualify for several entry-level careers in the beauty services industry. Graduates can work for themselves or work in salons with other aestheticians. Popular career options include:

  • Nail technician
  • Hair colorist
  • Skin care specialist

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), job opportunities for skin care specialists, including aestheticians, were projected to grow by 12% between 2014 and 2024, faster than average. The BLS reported in May 2015 that the median annual salary for these professionals was $30,090.

Continuing Education Options

Every state has unique licensure requirements for nail technicians, barbers, skin care specialists and hair colorists. Most states require beauty service professionals to graduate from an accredited program and pass written and practical exams.

Aspiring aestheticians can choose between one-year aesthetician certificate programs or two-year associate's degree programs. Both prepare students to become licensed aestheticians and enter the beauty services industry.

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