What is an Esthetician

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

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Becoming an Esthetician

If you enjoy makeup and skincare, becoming an esthetician may be a good option for you. Estheticians provide a range of beauty services, including facials, massage, hair removal and makeup application. This career does not require a university degree, and, depending on the state you live in, completing a certificate training program may take less than a year. Long-term job prospects are good, and it is possible to move into both self-employment and eventual business ownership.

Job Description

Estheticians, sometimes also called "aestheticians" or "skin care specialists," provide skin care and beauty services to their clients. Services and treatments may include:

  • Face and body treatments: Depending on client need, an esthetician may offer facials, body scrubs, microdermabrasion or the application of specialized products to the client's face or body.
  • Non-therapeutic massage: Depending on state law, an esthetician may be able to provide limited massage services to clients.
  • Facial and body hair removal: Estheticians can remove facial and body hair using a variety of methods, including tweezing, waxing and threading. In some states, an esthetician may also be able to perform electrolysis or laser hair removal.
  • Makeup application: Applying makeup for photography, special events and in retail cosmetic stores.
  • Client education: Estheticians can recommend products, techniques and skin care routines to their clients. 

Education Requirements

Every state, except Connecticut, requires estheticians to complete an approved training program in either esthetics or cosmetology. The most common source for training is a trade school. Some cosmetology schools offer separate esthetics programs, and there are stand-alone esthetics schools as well. Program length varies by state and these variations can be dramatic. In Florida, for example, the program length minimum is 260 hours. In Puerto Rico, estheticians must first hold a cosmetology license, then undergo an additional 1,000 hours of training in esthetics.

After completing the training program, you will need to sit for your state licensure exam. You may be required to complete continuing education courses as a condition of license renewal.

According to the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median hourly compensation for an esthetician was $17.55 in 2020. Wages do vary, however, with the highest 10 percent of earners receiving more than $31.06 per hour and the lowest ten percent earning less than $10.99 on an hourly basis.

Employment venue has a significant impact on an esthetician's earnings. The BLS notes that, in 2020, the median hourly wage for an esthetician working in a medical office was $20.25, compared to the $15.21 median wage earned by an esthetician employed by a tourist accommodation, such as a hotel.

About the Industry

Estheticians work in a variety of settings, including salons and doctor's offices. Forty-seven percent work for personal care service businesses, eight percent work in a medical office, six percent work in health and beauty retail stores and three percent work in tourist accommodations. Twenty-eight percent are self-employed, and may offer services in their own homes or in other settings. For example, an independent esthetician may provide in-home makeup application services for brides or accompany photographers on photo shoots.

Most estheticians work 40 hours or more per week and may also work evenings and weekends.

Years of Experience

Years spent working in this profession can have an impact on income. According to PayScale.com, here is how average salaries can fluctuate based on an esthetician's experience level:

  • 0 to 5 years: $31,000
  • 5 to 10 years: $37,000
  • 10 to 20 years: $32,000
  • 20+ years: $35,000

Job Growth Trend

The personal appearance industry offers significant opportunity: People, both men and women, are concerned about looking younger, taking care of themselves, and maintaining their attractiveness. As a result, the BLS projects that esthetics jobs will grow 13 percent between 2016 and 2026. This is good news if you are looking for a career that offers job security and flexibility.