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Requirements to Become an Aesthetician
Aestheticians, or estheticians, are licensed cosmetology professionals who cleanse and treat the skin. They typically perform a variety of duties, including facials, waxes, massages and chemical peels. These professionals are often employed in spas, salons or medical facilities.
Licensure requirements vary in each state but typically include formal aesthetics instruction or apprenticeship training as well as written and practical testing. Aestheticians must have great customer service skills, stamina and, in the case of the self-employed, good business skills.
Step 1: Get Formal Training in Cosmetology
Before they can become licensed, aestheticians must gain formal training from a state-approved aesthetics program. Studies may focus on manual and machine facials, skin analysis, chemical treatments, waxing, skin conditions, skin diseases and makeup application.
Programs are usually available at community colleges, cosmetology schools or other vocational training schools. Most students can expect to spend about 600 hours in technical and practical instruction; however, some states may only require 350 hours and others up to 1500 hours in education. Given that each state has its own requirements, it is important that prospective students check with their state cosmetology boards to ensure that a program meets all licensing requirements.
- Consider an apprenticeship. As an alternative to formal education, some aestheticians enter the occupation through apprenticeship programs. Some states require candidates to obtain temporary licensure to serve as an apprentice. Aesthetics apprentices can gain hands-on experience under the instruction of a licensed aesthetician and learn about similar topics as they would in a formal education program.
Step 2: Obtain Licensure
To serve in the profession, aestheticians must be licensed in aesthetics by a state cosmetology board. Common licensure requirements include graduation from an approved school and passage of written and practical exams. Some cosmetology boards allow aestheticians to substitute formal education with apprenticeship training to meet the licensure requirements. Maryland, for example, requires candidates to have 600 hours of formal education or 12 months of apprenticeship training.
Step 3: Consider Becoming a Master Aesthetician
Licensed aestheticians may pursue a master aesthetician license, which consists of an additional 600 hours of advanced training. Master aesthetician programs cover topics in more detail, and some have more medical-focused aesthetics instruction. Course topics may include anatomy, physiology, microdermabrasion, chemical exfoliation, lymph drainage and anti-aging treatments.
Step 4: Continue Education
Continuing education is required in most states for standard and master aestheticians to renew their licenses. Aestheticians have the ability to continue their education through advanced courses that cover topics like chemical peels and laser treatments. Workshops and conferences may also satisfy continuing education standards. In addition to fulfilling licensure renewal requirements, continuing education can help an aesthetician advance his or her career by learning new techniques and skills.
- Join a professional organization. Membership in a professional organization, such as the Aesthetics International Association (AIA) or Associated Skin Care Professionals (ASCP), can give an aesthetician access to continuing education opportunities and other professional resources and benefits. Common membership benefits include access to affordable insurance, networking resources, marketing materials and business advice.