Skin Care Training Programs and Requirements

Training for aspiring skin care technicians, known as estheticians, is offered through certificate, diploma or associate's degree programs in skin care or cosmetology. Programs combine knowledge and study of the skin, clinical treatments and aesthetic applications with hands-on training.

Essential Information

Many skincare professionals seek formal training by completing certificate, diploma or associate's degree programs. These programs train students to analyze skin, suggest appropriate beauty regimens and perform facials, massages and other skin care treatments. Accredited certificate and diploma programs also prepare skin care professionals to sit for state-mandated licensing examinations.

Programs for skin care professionals often include salon-style laboratories where students blend skin care theory with actual skin care procedures. Many programs use students as subjects or offer discounted services to the public in exchange for student training.

Prerequisites for cosmetology programs at the certificate, diploma or associate's degree level require a high school diploma or an equivalent. Programs last 9 to 24 months and require hands-on salon experience.

Cosmetology Certificate

A certificate program for skin care professionals is the quickest way to start a career in skin care. These programs usually last about one year and provide foundational training for estheticians. Coursework may include skin care theory, facials, bacteriology, sterilization and sanitation. Students may also take introductory courses in business and retail sales. Upon completion, graduates often seek entry-level skin care positions with private or franchise-oriented salons or independent boutique-style day spas.

Cosmetology Diploma

Diploma programs for skin care technicians last nearly two years and offer extensive training in skin care, salon management and therapeutic massage. Students take courses in anatomy, physiology, cosmetic chemistry, skin care analysis, nail care and make-up applications. They also study massage, nutrition, medical terminology and salon management. Graduates are capable of performing transdermal electrolysis, waxing, glycolic peels, light therapy and various make-up applications.

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Associate's Degree in Cosmetology

Skin care professionals with associate degrees in cosmetology may perform specialized skin care procedures as well as offering guests traditional salon services, such as hair cutting, coloring, styling and manicures and pedicures. These two-year degree programs utilize salon-style classrooms to teach courses in chemical hair applications, shampoo and scalp treatments, hair cutting, hair styling, nail care, business management and retail sales.

An associate's degree program in cosmetology may also lead to a career in skin care. However, it offers broad based personal appearance knowledge and skills, such as skin care analysis, cosmetic development and chemistry, make-up applications and identification of skin disorders, such as rosacea. Students don't just learn about skin care techniques and procedures, but also study salon management, hair cutting and styling, chemical applications, manicuring, pedicuring and scalp treatments. Graduates of accredited two-year cosmetology degree programs are prepared to sit for licensing examinations and often manage salons and spas or even open their own businesses.

Licensure, Continuing Education and Certification Information

All skin care technicians and cosmetologists are required to be licensed by their state. Requirements for licensure usually involve completion of an accredited skin care or cosmetology certificate or degree program and successful passing of state-mandated examinations. These examinations often include both written and competency-based sections. Although state requirements vary, continuing education credits are often necessary to maintain licensure.

Many vocational, trade or community colleges sponsor local annual professional development workshops, seminars and conferences for skin care professionals. The Associated Skin Care Professionals organization serves as the nation's largest professional association for skin care professionals. It offers national conferences, professional development opportunities and a forum for skin care technicians.

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there were 55,000 skincare specialist jobs, which include estheticians, in 2014. The BLS expects that skincare specialist jobs will increase 12% in the decade between 2014 and 2024. In May 2015, the BLS reported that the median annual salary for skincare specialists is $30,090.

Students looking to become skin care professionals, or estheticians, have several training options available to them, including certificate, diploma and associate's degree programs. Ranging from nine months to two years, these programs teach skin care essentials in a hands-on salon environment to prepare students to enter the skin care industry and become licensed professionals.

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