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What's the Difference Between an Aesthetician and Esthetician?

Estheticians and aestheticians are both licensed skin specialists. They are trained to analyze and cleanse skin through a variety of techniques. Estheticians can be found in spas and salons, while aestheticians typically work in medical settings. View article »

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  • 0:04 Differences Between…
  • 0:44 Esthetician Job Description
  • 1:14 Medical Aesthetician…
  • 1:50 Education & Licensure…
  • 3:11 Career Outlook &…

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Video Transcript

Differences Between these Fields

Distinguishing between an esthetician and medical aesthetician can be tricky, since both occupations are licensed skin care specialists. Here we will outline the major distinctions between the two job descriptions as well as education requirements, license requirements, career outlook, and salary information.

Estheticians and medical aestheticians are both skincare specialists. Estheticians typically work out of salons and/or spas, while medical aestheticians typically work in medical settings and have more of a clinical focus. The main differences between the two occupations are the types of clients they work with and the settings in which they work.

Esthetician Job Description

Traditional estheticians, also known as skincare specialists, clean skin through skin exfoliation, massage, aromatherapy, and facials. They also analyze skin to identify any health problems and temporarily remove hair. In addition to skin health, some estheticians have a cosmetic focus and may apply makeup and consult individuals on the best products for their skin type. Estheticians can be found working in beauty salons, resorts, fitness clubs, and spas.

Medical Aesthetician Job Description

Medical aestheticians, also known as clinical or paramedical aestheticians, are skincare specialists with more of a clinical focus. They work with cancer patients, burn victims, and others with health-related issues. They treat and maintain facial skin that has been damaged because of fire, surgery, chemotherapy treatments, and other incidents. Medical aestheticians are responsible for helping patients cleanse and moisturize their skin, as well as choose and apply the right makeup. Medical aestheticians work in hospitals, burn units, trauma centers, reconstructive surgery centers, and other healthcare facilities.

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Education & Licensure Requirements

Both estheticians and medical aestheticians typically complete formal education in cosmetology or esthetician training. Varying degree programs can be pursued, including an associate's degree, certificate, or diploma. Regardless of the type of degree or education program, an esthetician must complete practical training to be eligible for licensure. Skincare specialist and esthetician programs typically include hands-on training and coursework in the following:

  • Dermal filler training
  • Botox injection training
  • Laser hair removal
  • Photofacial skin rejuvenation
  • Laser wrinkle reduction
  • Tattoo removal
  • Body contouring
  • Skin tightening
  • Sclerotherapy
  • Makeup application
  • Business and communication skills

While there is much overlap between medical aesthetician and esthetician programs, the major difference is that estheticians programs are more generalized, while medical aestheticians have more of a clinical and specialized focus. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), all states require personal appearance workers, such as skincare specialists, to be licensed. Licensure requirements vary by state, but typically include formal training and a high school diploma. Some states have a minimum number of completed training hours required for licensing as well as minimum age requirements.

Career Outlook & Salary Information

According to the BLS, employment growth among skincare specialists is expected to be faster than average, at a rate of 12% from 2014 to 2024. Salaries for skincare specialists vary depending on years of experience, with a median salary being $30,270 as of 2016. Naturally, individuals with one year of experience may earn less than those with five or more years of experience. As of May 2016, skincare specialists in general earned a median hourly wage of $14.55, according to the BLS. For medical aestheticians who work in offices of physicians, as of May 2016 the median hourly wage was even higher at $17.96, according to the BLS.


A career as an esthetician or medical aesthetician involves close contact with clients, and both involve caring for the skin. To practice as a licensed esthetician or medical aesthetician, you will need to undergo formal training in an education program. If interested in a hands-on career working closely with people and clients in a salon, spa, or medical setting, then a career as an esthetician or medical aesthetician is a great choice, especially considering the rapid growth in employment opportunities.

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