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Become an Airbrush Tanning Technician: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become an airbrush tanning technician. Research the education requirements, training and licensure you will need to start a career in this cosmetology field.

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Should I Be an Airbrush Technician?

To become an airbrush tanning technician, individuals must first become trained estheticians, also known as skin care specialists. Most esthetician programs do not train estheticians to use airbrushes for tanning or other purposes, such as make-up, so estheticians usually have to obtain additional training to receive the necessary skills.

Career Requirements

Education Required High school or equivalent; esthetician training
Licensure and Certification State-required esthetician licensure; certification voluntary
Key Skills Business skills; tidiness; initiative; physical stamina
Salary $30,090 (2015 median for skincare specialists)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

After completing esthetician training, estheticians must become licensed. Additional voluntary certifications are available. These professionals should have good business skills and demonstrate tidiness, as well as stamina and initiative. According to 2015 data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), skin care specialists earn a median annual salary of $30,090.

Steps to Be a Tanning Technician

Step 1: Complete an Esthetician Training Program

Most esthetician training programs include around 600 hours of classroom lectures and hands-on training, but some programs may be longer or shorter based on state licensing requirements. Basic esthetician courses include anatomy and physiology, skin nutrition, bacteriology, facial treatments, facial hair removal, skin treatments, skin disorders, chemical treatments and make-up application.

Step 2: Obtain an Esthetician's License

Each state has different licensing guidelines, but most states require estheticians to complete recognized training programs prior to applying for licenses. Upon meeting eligibility requirements, the BLS states that applicants must pass all required exams. These may involve practical skills tests or written examinations. Some states may require that estheticians renew their licenses periodically. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the projected employment growth for skincare specialists, which could include airbrush tanning technicians, is 12% from 2014-2024, which is faster than the average for most occupations.

Step 3: Get Training in Airbrush Tanning

Professionals may take individual courses that teach the essentials of airbrushing, including how to use and maintain airbrushing tools, various airbrushing techniques and how to prepare pigment mixtures for tanning or make-up. There are also advanced esthetician training programs that provide more specialized coursework, including training with airbrushing and spray tanning.

Step 4: Look Into Business Training

Most esthetician training programs provide some business coursework, which may include information about service pricing and budgeting. Airbrush tanning technicians who want to start their own businesses may consider taking additional business classes, such as small-business management, bookkeeping, and marketing. Technicians can also gain practical business experience by working at salons, health spas or established tanning businesses.

Step 5: Consider Airbrush Tanning Certification to Further Your Career

Airbrush tanning technicians can voluntarily become certified to use certain airbrush tanning products. Many manufacturers offer certification programs that train and certify professionals to use that manufacturer's products. Within the cosmetology industry, some products are considered more luxurious than other products. Professionals who have certification in those luxurious, high-end products could potentially attract more business opportunities.

Aspiring airbrush tanning technicians must first study to become estheticians and obtain an esthetician license, and voluntary certification is available.

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