Cosmetic Laser Training Programs and Requirements

Cosmetic laser programs are generally open to physicians, medical aestheticians, certified nursing assistants and registered nurses, depending on state regulations.

Essential Information

The goal of a laser training certificate program is to teach students how to use and repair lasers, assess patients for laser procedures, perform procedures and follow up with clients. Each of these steps is explained in-depth through homework assignments, hands-on practice sessions and demonstrations. The program may also familiarize students with the daily duties of a laser technician, including following up on inquiries and leads, conducting skin analyses, cleaning work areas, and taking before-and-after photos. These programs vary in length and can be offered both daytime and evening.

Prerequisites may include one year of experience and knowledge of laser equipment and procedures, with existing clientele being preferred. Some specialization programs require a bachelor's degree or certification in a related field. Students enrolling in a cosmetic laser training program should find out if the equipment that they will be using is up-to-date, what types of procedures will be learned, and if there is a staffed physician to provide supervision. Depending on the program, students may be required to complete hands-on training with physician supervision, additional workshops, and comprehensive exams. Some courses and programs may be available online.

Cosmetic Laser Technician Certificate

According to the National Council of Laser Excellence, certification is available for those who want to operate lasers, and is issued based on competency in laser usage, but it is not a medical certification. Most states don't require certification for laser technicians, but it is recommended by most employers. Students should research licensing regulations, because state medical board requirements differ on education and training hours.

While every laser program differs in terms of curriculum, most teach the use of commonly used lasers, including the intensive pulse light (IPL), carbon dioxide, light emitting diode (LED) and fractional (Fraxel). Laser safety, physics, pigmentation, flash lamps and pulse technology are typically covered. Graduates learn how to follow pre- and post-procedure treatments, determine the correct procedure for an intended outcome, and follow through by using lasers on various parts of the body.

Laser Hair Removal Certification

As the name suggests, this certification is for individuals who plan to use a laser to remove hair. Candidates must be 18 years or older, have at least 16 hours of laser hair removal courses and have experience in 20 cases where laser hair removal was performed. In addition, the student must have had ten cases of direct supervision and ten cases of indirect supervision. If more than one type of laser was used under direct supervision, that additional device must have been used ten times. A 100-question multiple-choice examination is required and covers areas such as regulations and standards, laser hazards and procedural controls.

Laser Operator-Aesthetic Certification

The CLO-A certification allows graduates to perform all cosmetic procedures using a laser, whether under direct or indirect supervision, as granted by state law. Applicants must be at least 18 years old, have one year of experience in a cosmetic or aesthetic office and at least 24 hours of medical laser courses. With experience in laser safety and operation, candidates with a bachelor's degree or dermatology nurse certification qualify for certification, as do those with a medical credential or degree. Candidates must take a 125-question multiple-choice examination testing areas such as non-beam hazards, tissue interactions and administrative controls.

Continuing Education

The American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery hosts an annual conference for individuals in the medical laser industry. This 4-day meeting discusses a range of laser topics, including pigment removal, legal issues and hair removal. Photodynamic therapy and skin resurfacing are common luncheon meeting topics. With more experience, cosmetic laser technicians can begin performing chemical peels and microdermabrasions, treating facial lesions and resurfacing skin under the supervision of a physician.

Cosmetic laser training programs can provide certification for students in varied areas of the craft, depending on their career goals and interests. These programs can help students prepare to perform several cosmetic laser procedures, with qualifications for enrollment dependent on state regulations.

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