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Over the past several years, the global skincare industry has been steadily growing, and many experts predict that it will be worth more than $170 billion in the next couple of years. Due to the projected growth of the skincare industry, there’s never been a better time for estheticians to obtain a career in a thriving field.

A career as an esthetician can provide job security, a competitive salary, and many other great perks, but it’s extremely important for aspiring estheticians to know everything about this job title before pursuing this career. Here, you’ll find a detailed guide about becoming an esthetician.

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Steps to Become an Esthetician

While many people want to become an esthetician, some of them aren’t sure where to start. However, the path to pursuing a career as an esthetician isn’t as daunting as many people think. Here are the specific steps to becoming an esthetician.

  • Step 1: Earn a High School Diploma

  • Step 2: Receive an Esthetician Certificate

  • Step 3: Complete an Apprenticeship

  • Step 4: Obtain an Esthetician License


Step 1: Earn a High School Diploma

Almost every accredited beauty school and community college requires aspiring estheticians to graduate from high school before enrolling in their esthetician certificate program. If given the opportunity, students should take beauty and advanced life sciences classes during high school.

Step 2: Receive an Esthetician Certificate

After aspiring estheticians graduate from high school, they’ll need to receive an esthetician certificate from an accredited beauty school or community college. During these programs, students will learn everything about skin health and may also take courses in anatomy and physiology, facials, massaging, skin analysis, make-up application, and much more. The best esthetician certificate programs prepare students for their state’s licensure examination, and you should be sure to check for this when you are looking for a program to complete. When students graduate from this program, they’ll receive an esthetician certificate.

Step 3: Complete an Apprenticeship

Students will need to obtain an apprenticeship to qualify for an esthetician license. Depending on the state, students will probably have to successfully complete anywhere from 300 to 1200 supervised hours. During these supervised hours, students will perform skincare procedures under the guidance of an experienced and licensed esthetician. Students should talk with their school to find the right apprenticeship for them.

Step 4: Obtain an Esthetician License

The last step to becoming an esthetician is to get your license. Many states require aspiring estheticians to pass a National Esthetics examination, which is offered by the National-Interstate Council on State Boards of Cosmetology (NIC).

If a state does not require aspiring estheticians to take this exam, it probably offers a similar test. The only state that currently does not require estheticians to be licensed is Connecticut.

The NIC exam traditionally consists of written and practical parts, and it will cover many key topics from the esthetician certification program and the apprenticeship. The best way to prepare for this examination is to review any notes from school. For the most rewarding results, students should consider studying for the exam a little bit every day.

Once students pass this examination, they will probably have to renew their esthetician license periodically. Depending on where they live, most estheticians will have to pay a fee to renew their license.

In addition to renewing their license every few years, top estheticians will also complete many hours of continuing education and stay up to date of the most recent advancements in skincare. Many employers hire estheticians who are true leaders in the field.

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What is the Difference Between an Esthetician and an Aesthetician?

Even though esthetician and aesthetician sound pretty similar, these are two different job titles. They are both licensed skincare professionals, but estheticians focus on cosmetic treatments whereas aestheticians focus on medical treatments.

An aesthetician may work with burn victims or those who have had surgery that affected the skin on their face or another visible area of the body to try to reduce the negative aftereffects of scars or other injury. Some may perform laser therapy or offer a variety of medical treatments for skin conditions.

An esthetician will offer advice for makeup or cleaning products dependent on a customer’s specific skin type, lifestyle, and needs. So, as you can see an aesthetician is most likely to work in a dermatologist’s office or another medical facility, while an esthetician can find work in a spa or salon that offers facial treatments.

What Does an Esthetician Do?

Generally speaking, estheticians are expected to provide many of the following skincare services: hair removal, brow shaping, aromatherapy, airbrush tanning, makeup application, body scrubs, massage, customized facial treatments, and more.

Along with providing excellent skincare services, these professionals conduct skin consultations, schedule appointments, and offer clients skincare recommendations. They also must stay on top of emerging skincare treatments.

The best estheticians have excellent communication, time management, and administrative skills.

Where Do Estheticians Work?

When most people think of estheticians, many of them envision these professionals working at medical and day spas. The reality is that these professionals can work in many different places. They are often found in salons, beauty schools, resorts, dermatology offices, retail cosmetic counters, and cruise ships. After they become licensed, estheticians can even work from home if they are looking to open their own salon space. There are many small businesses in the US in which an esthetician will work out of their home, offering a list of clients the services they want in a comfortable friendly environment.

Why Become an Esthetician?

  • Affordable Educational Programs:
    As compared to a traditional four-year college degree, esthetician programs are much more affordable. In most cases, estheticians won’t have as much debt as a person who attended a four-year college. These programs are also much shorter than programs at four-year colleges, meaning that you can get out of school and into your career much more quickly.
  • Constant Professional Growth:
    When working as an esthetician, there’s lots of potential for professional growth. Since estheticians work with a wide variety of clients, these professionals will be able to deeper their understanding of a variety of skincare treatments. They can also complete many hours of continuing education to learn more about the right skincare treatment for certain skincare problems.
  • Extremely Flexible Schedule:
    Many estheticians are able to have a flexible work schedule, making it much easy for them to juggle other commitments with their career. These professionals often have the option of working full-time or part-time; they can even just work weekends if they have their own practice and that is what works for them and their clients.
  • A Growing Job Market:
    Job security is a big reason to pursue a career as an esthetician. In the future, the demand for estheticians is expected to steadily grow. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment of estheticians is going to grow 29% in the next ten years.
  • Competitive Salary:
    A big perk of becoming an esthetician is the opportunity to earn a high salary. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has recently reported that the top 10% of estheticians earned roughly $31 an hour.

Professional Organizations

One way for estheticians to become leaders in the field is to join professional organizations. The following are a few of the top professional organizations for estheticians.

  • Associated Skin Care Professionals
    Associated Skin Care Professionals is one of the largest professional organizations that’s solely dedicated to estheticians. The organization’s primary goal is to provide an extensive array of resources to estheticians including an award-winning magazine, webinars, a free website, podcast episodes, a career toolkit, and much more. The organization even offers member-only discounts and esthetics insurance.
  • The American Association of Master Estheticians
    The American Association of Master Estheticians is a great professional organization for estheticians who would like to have access to many networking opportunities. The networking opportunities often enable estheticians to learn more about the latest skincare trends and technology.
  • National Coalition of Estheticians Association
    The National Coalition of Estheticians Association has many benefits for its members. Along with offering the National Esthetician Certification, this association provides continuing education. They also pride themselves on keeping their members informed of important news in the skincare industry.

Esthetician Career & Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau Labor of Statistics, the average hourly wage for estheticians was $17.55 last year. As a result, most aspiring estheticians can expect to make an annual salary of about $34,090. The U.S. Bureau Labor of Statistics also recently reported that the following states pay estheticians the most competitive salary: Minnesota, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Wyoming, and Colorado.

Many estheticians may want to maximize their income. To do so, they can gain more education, which will ultimately increase their skill set and their possible income. A master esthetics program is a great option for estheticians who want to sharpen their skills. As soon as they enhance their skill set, these professionals can begin offering additional beauty services like laser treatments, spray tans, advanced hair removal, eye lash extensions, and much more.

Along with increasing their education, they can also earn more money by opening their own spa or salon. As a spa/salon owner, they’ll be able to charge more for skincare services, sell retail products, or maybe even rent spaces to other estheticians who aren’t yet ready to open their own space.

Similar Careers

Many estheticians appreciate the fact that they can switch careers relatively easy. Check out the top careers that are similar to that of an esthetician.

  • Makeup Artist:
    A makeup artist is a professional who beautifies a client’s facial appearance with excellent cosmetic techniques. These professionals may work at a makeup counters, beauty salons, production studios, theatres, and special events.
  • Cosmetics Buyer:
    A cosmetics buyer is expected to source new, cutting-edge beauty products for a company. These professionals are also supposed to perform market analysis, write reports, manage inventory, and stay up to date on beauty trends.
  • Esthetician Instructor:
    The primary responsibility of an esthetician instructor is to teach aspiring estheticians everything about skincare. They should especially enjoy discussing the practice and theory of skincare and preparing students to take the esthetician licensing exam. Most esthetician instructors work at beauty schools and community colleges.
  • Eyelash/Brow Specialist:
    Eyelash/brow specialists are most known for providing the perfect eyelash and eyebrows for their clients. These professionals have taken specialized training to achieve a look that their clients absolutely love. To excel as an eyelash/brow specialist, they should have excellent attention to detail.
  • Spa/Salon Manager:
    The overarching goal of a spa/salon manager is to oversee the day-to-day operations of a beauty business. During a typical day, spa/salon managers usually perform the following duties: hire/train staff, manage employee work schedules, resolve customer complaints, order supplies/equipment, and lead staff meetings. A spa/salon manager must have excellent communication skills.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What does a freelance esthetician do?

A freelance esthetician is often referred to as independent estheticians. Contrary to traditional estheticians, freelance estheticians generally have a more flexible work schedule since they create their own hours. Many freelance estheticians perform the same excellent services as traditional estheticians, but independent estheticians are considered their own boss.

How much can an esthetician entrepreneur make?

Since esthetician entrepreneurs are their own bosses, the sky is truly the limit when it comes to their income potential. The average annual salary of an esthetician entrepreneur in the United States is roughly $52,000.

How long does it take to get an esthetician certificate or license?

Depending on the state, it can take up to six months for students to receive an esthetician certificate or license if they’re enrolled in a program full-time.

How is an esthetics license different from a cosmetology license?

Despite common belief, an esthetics license and a cosmetology license are not the same. Since cosmetology covers hair, skin, and nails, professionals with a cosmetology license often have many careers opportunities. These such professionals can pursue a career in hair, makeup, makeup application, nail artistry, and skincare.

However, a cosmetology program is much longer than an esthetics program. Most cosmetology programs take a couple of years to complete. A traditional cosmetology program may explore topics like nail care, makeup artistry, hair cutting, salon operations, cleaning/sanitation, and many more.

What are some qualities of a great esthetician?

In order to excel as an esthetician, it’s extremely important to have certain qualities. One of the most important traits that an aspiring esthetician should have is an interest in science. An esthetician certificate program is heavily focused on science, featuring important courses such as chemistry, anatomy, and physiology. If aspiring estheticians enjoy learning about the science of skincare, they will probably enjoy a career as an esthetician.

A great esthetician will also need to have excellent fine motor skills, making it extremely easy to perform an extensive array of skincare services, from chemical peels to eyebrow tinting.

Top estheticians are also detail oriented. They always make it a priority to perform skincare treatments flawlessly. Whenever they complete a skincare procedure, these such estheticians ensure that the client’s skin feels just right. These professionals should also be compassionate and emphatic because they’ll be working closely with clients.

The last trait that an esthetician must have is a positive attitude. Since many people get a facial to relax, it’s imperative for these professionals to keep a big smile on their faces. Even while they are discussing a client’s skincare concerns, estheticians should always have a positive demeanor. Most estheticians would agree that maintaining a positive attitude will result in a smooth skincare session.

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