How to Become a Licensed Aesthetician: Education and Career Roadmap

Should I Become a Licensed Aesthetician?

Aestheticians, also known as estheticians, are skin care professionals who provide services such as facials, waxing and skin treatments. Many aestheticians work in salons or spas, while others work for themselves or own businesses. Aestheticians often stand for long periods of time and handle chemicals used in skin care treatments.

Evening and weekend work is typical for aestheticians. Self-employed individuals usually perform all of the tasks related to running a business and performing services for clients. Because of the increased responsibility this brings, self-employed aestheticians can expect to work long hours.

Career Requirements

Training Required State-approved training program
Field of Study Aesthetics, esthetics or cosmetology
Licensure License required in all states
Experience Entry level; no experience necessary
Key Skills Excellent customer service skills, physical stamina
Salary (2014) $29,050 per year (Median salary for all skin care specialists)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014

Step 1: Complete an Approved Program

Aspiring aestheticians often pursue training through approved cosmetology programs, which include skin care as a core area of study and may result in an associate degree. However, many institutions also offer certificate programs in aesthetics that focus on skin care. Both types of programs blend traditional classroom lectures with hands-on training in a school's own salon or in school lab facilities. Aesthetics programs cover various skin care procedures, anatomy and physiology and makeup application; cosmetology programs include additional courses in hairstyling and hair coloring.

Success Tips:

  • Develop communication and customer service skills. Having a friendly and professional disposition is an important quality for aestheticians. Taking some elective or supplemental courses in public speaking, customer service or communications might help improve a student's listening, speaking and writing skills.
  • Use free time to practice. Due to the hands-on nature of aesthetics, a student might benefit from practicing skills, techniques and procedures learned in the program on his or her own time. Students might practice on themselves or ask willing friends and family to volunteer.

Step 2: Become a Licensed Aesthetician

According to the BLS, each state requires aestheticians to be formally licensed for employment. In general, state boards mandate a minimum number of hours of approved aesthetics training. After fulfilling education requirements, a licensure candidate must pass the state licensing exam, which includes written and practical sections.

Step 3: Complete Continuing Education

State licensing boards maintain continuing education requirements for license renewal. These requirements vary by state but can usually be met by taking approved courses or seminars that cover the latest techniques or products in the field. Aestheticians who aspire to advance in the field will need to stay abreast of new developments as well. Many skin care manufacturers and aesthetic associations offer post-licensure trainings for specific products and techniques.

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