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How to Become a Beauty Therapist: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a beauty therapist. Research the job description, education, and licensing requirements, and find out how to start a career in beauty therapy. View article »

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Should I Become a Beauty Therapist?

Beauty therapists, also known as estheticians or skincare specialists, are usually employed by day spas or beauty salons. Their responsibilities include providing skin care, applying makeup, waxing to remove unwanted hair, and giving stress reduction treatments, like massages. Many hours spent standing may be required in this occupation.

Career Requirements

Education Level Completion of state-approved program
Education Field Esthetics or cosmetology
Licensure Most states require licensure for skin care specialists
Experience Salon experience
Key Skills Physical stamina due to prolonged hours standing; communication and time-management skills
Salary $30,090 (2015 median salary for skincare specialists)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Esthetician programs.

Beauty therapists have completed state-approved programs and are licensed in fields such as esthetics or cosmetology. They are expected to have physical stamina to handle prolonged hours standing, along with good communication and time-management skills. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for skin care specialists, which include beauty therapists was $30,090 in 2015.

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

Steps to Become a Beauty Therapist

How could I become a beauty therapist?

Step 1: Complete a State-Approved Training Program

Through an esthetics or cosmetology training program, students typically learn about cleansing skin, giving facials, steaming, massaging, and waxing and other hair removal techniques. Coursework generally covers makeup application as well as basic sanitary procedures for preparation, storage and cleanup. Students also might complete a salon practicum. These programs often award a certificate.

Step 2: Obtain Licensing

Most states require estheticians to be licensed. In addition to completing a state-approved training program, licensure candidates usually must pass written and practical exams, the latter of which require examinees to perform beauty treatments on a live model or mannequin under observation of a test administrator. Licensure typically must be renewed on an annual basis by paying a fee. Most states do not require continuing education (CE) as a condition of renewal, although CE opportunities are available through some community colleges.

Step 3: Build Your Clientele

Success as an esthetician requires building a loyal clientele. Entry-level estheticians will make much less than their established counterparts because they do not yet have loyal customers. As a beginning skincare specialist, building a clientele is the single most important part of growing one's business. For this reason, developing people skills is crucial; being able to connect with customers on a level with which they are comfortable will ensure repeated visits. Estheticians looking to advance their career might consider opening their own spa or business, in which case having a loyal clientele is essential. Estheticians interested in starting a business might also consider pursuing a background in business management and entrepreneurship.

Beauty therapists provide skin care, apply makeup, remove unwanted hair, and give stress reduction treatments. They are trained and licensed through state-approved programs and they make a median annual salary of $30,090.

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