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How to Become a Nurse Esthetician

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Nurse estheticians are licensed skincare specialists who provide advanced cosmetic skin treatments and enhancement procedures to patients who struggle with the appearance of their skin. Estheticians typically work in spas and salons, performing skin exfoliation, massage, aromatherapy and facials. They may also remove hair and identify skin health issues. Medical aestheticians, on the other hand, work in more clinical settings, such as medical offices and hospitals. Though many of their patients seek treatment for purely cosmetic reasons, many do so after suffering trauma or undergoing extensive surgery.

Required Education

Both nurse estheticians and medical aestheticians must complete formal cosmetology or esthetician training. Relevant courses typically teach students to perform the following treatments and procedures:

  • Dermal filler.
  • Botox injections.
  • Laser hair removal.
  • Photofacial skin rejuvination.
  • Laser wrinkle reduction.
  • Tattoo removal.
  • Body contouring.
  • Skin tightening.
  • Sclerotherapy.
  • Makeup application.
  • Business and communication skills.

Registered nurse (RN) estheticians who aim to work in medical settings may have to obtain more advanced certification, such as LPN (licensed practical nurse) or LVN (licensed vocational nurse) certification. LPN/LVN candidates must obtain a diploma, certificate or associate degree from an accredited nursing program, which usually takes one to two years and requires both classroom and hands-on study.

Exams and Licensure

After completing their nursing program, LPN candidates must pass the national council licensure examination (NCLEX). Exam candidates must usually obtain authorization from their respective state nursing board in order to register for and take the exam. These same nursing boards are typically responsible for distributing nursing licensure, so aspiring licensed nurses should apply for their state license after passing the NCLEX. Each state imposes its own requirements on nursing licenses, which may mandate a background check.

LPNs typically spend lots of face-time with patients, and work in high-stress, fast-paced environments. Prospective nurse estheticians looking to earn LPN certification should make sure they develop strong communication skills and learn to multitask with ease and efficiency.

Esthetician Training

After completing a nursing degree, passing the national licensing exam and obtaining a nursing license, aspiring nurse estheticians should seek a position and procedure-specific training. Such training is usually available from institutes and product manufacturers, and allows these professionals to perform complex, invasive appearance enhancement procedures, such as Botox injections. Most states don't require treatment-specific certification or licensing for nurse estheticians, but these nurses may struggle to find opportunities in their field unless they undergo such training.

Earning Potential

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), skincare specialists make a median annual salary of $30,080, which breaks down to $14.46 per hour. Occupations in the skincare field are projected to grow at an above-average rate, by 14 percent, through 2026, adding 8,500 new skincare-specialist positions to the national workforce in that time period. The BLS doesn't offer specific data for RN estheticians, but according to PayScale, LPNs tend to make more than the average skincare specialist. These nurses take home a median annual salary of $41,246, or $19.51 per hour. The lowest-earning 10 percent of LPNs make around $28,000 per year, while those in the 90th percentile make as much as $56,000.


Brenna Swanston is a freelance writer, editor and journalist. She previously reported for the Sun newspaper in Santa Maria, California, and she holds a bachelor's in journalism from California Polytechnic State University.

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