Growth Trends for Related Jobs

How Long Does it Take to Become an Esthetician?

Estheticians are licensed skin care experts employed in spas, resorts, fitness centers, salons and retail stores. If you are passionate about skin care, beauty and pampering clients, a career in esthetics may be a great option to consider. You can even launch an entry-level career in just one semester.

Job Description

A day in the life of an esthetician centers on applying skin care products to improve the condition and appearance of skin. Estheticians listen to clients’ goals and explain techniques such as exfoliation, microdermabrasion and chemical peels to remove dead skin cells and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Estheticians educate clients on skin care and demonstrate how to apply moisturizing lotions and makeup.

Education Requirements

Many vocational and community colleges across the country offer affordable training programs in esthetics. Well-respected esthetician programs are also available at esthetician schools such as the Aveda Institute. Certificates, diplomas and applied associate degrees are typical career tracks for meeting esthetician requirements.

  • Esthetician certificates can be completed in just one semester.

  • Advanced practice certificates are open to practicing estheticians and cosmetologists seeking in-depth training in areas such as skin needling or chemical peels.

  • Diplomas in esthetics take about three semesters.

  • A four-semester Associate of Applied Science degree is for those interested in working independently or in medical settings.

Esthetician school covers subjects like skin anatomy and physiology, skin analysis, chemical formulas of skin care products, makeup techniques, brow and lash tinting, massage, customer relations and temporary hair removal. One or more general education classes in subjects like English and communication are required as well.

Esthetician License

All states except Connecticut require an esthetician license issued by a state board of cosmetology to hold a job as an esthetician_._ Completing a short, state-approved training program qualifies students to sit for a written exam and skills test needed for a state license. For example, schools such as St. Paul College offer an esthetician certificate that may be completed in just one semester of full-time study.

Students can go on to complete a diploma that includes 1,200 hours of training over three semesters, qualifying them to take the internationally recognized CIDESCO examination to certify as an esthetician, massage therapist and nail technician. Cross training can be advantageous when seeking a job.


Estheticians work in many settings, including exclusive spas, resorts, medical offices, fitness centers and cruise ships. Depending on the esthetician’s job description, some work exclusively in one area of esthetics, such as makeup sales and application at a cosmetics counter.

U.S. News & World Report ranks estheticians in 19th place among good jobs that don't require a four-year college degree. Rankings are based on low stress, job prospects and projected growth. The popularity of esthetics has surged as people have more disposable income and a desire to ward off the signs of aging.

Years of Experience and Salary

Experience matters. Recent graduates may face competition for full-time jobs with benefits. Those starting out have less seniority when it comes to assigned work hours and requesting time off. Estheticians with an established clientele often earn better wages and tips.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median hourly wage earned by skin care specialists such as estheticians was $15.05 in May 2018. Median wage means that 50 percent of the workers in the occupation earned less than $15.05, and 50 percent earned more. Salaries ranged from below $9.29 an hour for skin care specialists in the lowest 10 percent wage tier to more than $28.75 an hour for those in the top 10 percent wage bracket.

Job Growth Trend

Job prospects for skin care specialists, including estheticians, look bright in the years ahead. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that growth will be faster than average when compared to other occupations: a 14 percent rate of growth between 2016 and 2026.


Dr. Mary Dowd brings decades of hands-on experience to her writing endeavors. Along with general knowledge of human resources, she has specialized training in affirmative action, investigations and equal opportunity. While working as a dean of students, she advised college students on emerging career trends and job seeking strategies. As director of equal opportunity, she led efforts to diversify the workforce and the student body.