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Esthetician Career Guide

What is an esthetician?

Estheticians are skincare pros. They focus primarily on facial skin but know a lot about skin all over the body. They perform facials and skin treatments that make you feel good and your skin look great. They’re also like skin coaches, teaching people about the best skincare routines and products.

Duties and responsibilities

Estheticians first figure out what your skin needs. They’ll look at your skin and ask about your routine and lifestyle. Then, they do various treatments – think facials, peels, or helping with acne. They’re also your go-to for advice on the best skincare products and how to use them.

Work environment

Most estheticians work in spas, salons, or skincare clinics, but some work with doctors or even at home. They travel to clients’ houses, too. It’s super important for their workspaces to be clean and calm. They’re on their feet a lot, getting close to clients to do their magic.

Typical work hours

Estheticians’ hours can be all over the place. In places like spas, they often work the usual business hours. But they also do evenings and weekends since that’s when clients might be free. If they’re self-employed, they set their own schedule. Events like weddings or proms might mean weird hours, but it’s all part of the job.

How to become an esthetician

Here’s a step-by-step guide for anyone interested in becoming an esthetician:

Step 1: Finish high school

Your first step is to graduate from high school or get a similar diploma. This is your foundation before diving into specific skincare training.

Step 2: Go to beauty school

Next, enroll in a beauty school program that’s approved by your state. You’ll get to practice skincare techniques, learn about skin science, and understand how to use various skincare tools and products.

Step 3: Complete training hours

Every state requires a certain number of training hours, which include classroom learning and hands-on practice. It’s important to finish these to make sure you know your stuff and meet state rules.

Step 4: Pass the licensing exam

After training, you need to pass a state exam. This test covers everything from skincare basics to safety rules. Doing well on this exam gets you your esthetician license.

Step 5: Find a job

With your license in hand, you can start working. Look for jobs in spas, clinics, or salons. You could also start your own business or become a beauty advisor.

Step 6: Keep learning

Skincare trends and tech change fast. Stay up to date by attending workshops or taking extra classes. This is also important because some states require ongoing learning to keep your license.

Step 7: Get specialized certifications

To really stand out, consider getting extra certifications in areas like medical skincare or makeup to open up even more job options.

How much do estheticians make?

Compensation for estheticians varies by experience, industry, education, location, and organization size. Factors influencing their salary include specialized training, years of experience, and the prestige of the place of employment. They often earn tips from their clients, which significantly increases their overall income as well.

Highest paying industries

  • Outpatient Care Centers: $52,000
  • Specialty Hospitals: $50,000
  • Offices of Other Health Practitioners: $49,000
  • Personal Care Services: $46,000
  • Health and Personal Care Stores: $45,000

Highest paying states

  • Wyoming: $52,490
  • Minnesota: $49,510
  • Utah: $47,150
  • Maine: $45,460
  • Montana: $45,430

Browse esthetician salary data by market

Types of estheticians

Here’s a look at different career paths for estheticians:

  • Medical esthetician: These are the pros who work in healthcare settings. They help patients with skin issues caused by medical treatments and often need extra training in medical procedures.
  • Spa esthetician: Think relaxation and wellness. Spa estheticians offer treatments like facials and body wraps in peaceful places like day spas or resorts. 
  • Retail esthetician: These estheticians are based in stores selling beauty products. They recommend products, give skincare advice, and might even do makeup demos. 
  • Freelance esthetician: Going freelance means more freedom. These estheticians might work with different salons or offer services like at-home facials or wedding makeup. 
  • Makeup artist: Some estheticians focus just on makeup. They could be in a salon, store, or even backstage at fashion shows, and their skincare knowledge helps them take good care of their clients’ skin.

Top skills for estheticians

Here are the key skills that make a great esthetician:

  • Client communication skills: They must explain treatments, answer questions, and make clients feel comfortable. Being empathetic and providing top-notch customer service makes clients happy and builds trust.
  • Knowledge of skincare products and procedures: Estheticians should be experts on all kinds of skincare products and treatments, like facials or peels. They need to understand different skin types and how to customize treatments for each person.
  • Physical stamina: This job means being on your feet for hours, doing detailed work. Good fitness and stamina help them keep up with the job’s demands without getting too tired.
  • Sales skills: Estheticians often suggest skincare products for clients to use at home. Good sales skills help them recommend the right products, which is great for both client results and business profits.
  • Hygiene awareness: Since estheticians work closely with clients, they need to be extremely careful about cleanliness. This includes keeping tools sterile and maintaining a clean workspace.
  • Patience and precision: A lot of skincare treatments need a steady hand and careful attention to detail, especially when working with sensitive skin. Being patient and precise is critical for safe and effective treatments.

Esthetician career path options

If you’re an esthetician, there are several exciting paths you can take to grow in your career:

Specialize in medical or paramedical esthetics

With extra training, you can work alongside healthcare pros, helping patients with skincare during or after medical treatments. This specialization can increase your skills and how much you earn.

Become a spa or salon manager

Managing a spa or salon is a step up. You’ll handle business tasks like running the team, ensuring everything’s running smoothly, and marketing your place. It’s a chance to use your leadership skills, which usually means more responsibility and better pay.

Teach future estheticians

If you love teaching, you could become a beauty school or college instructor. It’s rewarding to train up-and-coming estheticians and play a part in shaping the industry’s future.

Start your own business

For those with a strong business sense, opening your own spa or clinic is a big but exciting move. You’ll need to consider funding, finding a location, buying equipment, hiring staff, and getting the word out about your services. It’s a lot of work but offers the most control over your career and the potential for higher earnings.

The aesthetics field is evolving rapidly; here’s a look at the latest trends:

  • Technology integration in skincare: Estheticians are now using high-tech methods like microdermabrasion, chemical peels, and laser treatments. These advancements allow them to offer more tailored treatments to clients, effectively addressing specific skin concerns.
  • Natural and holistic skincare: There’s a growing interest in natural, non-invasive treatments. They are moving toward organic skincare therapies, and many are also combining skincare with relaxation and mindfulness techniques for a full wellness experience.

Employment projections

The job market for estheticians looks bright. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a 17% growth in this field through 2031, which is much faster than average. This increase is driven by the public’s growing interest in skincare and wellness. Due to these industry changes, they should find strong job prospects across various settings.

Esthetician career tips

Stay updated on the latest in skincare and cosmetics, including new ingredients, techniques, and products. Offering the latest trends to clients will help you stand out in this competitive field.

Provide personalized service

Understand that each client is unique. Tailoring your services to each client’s skin type and beauty goals can build client loyalty and lead to referrals, boosting your career.

Invest in continuous education

Always be learning. Consider advanced courses in areas like:

  • Advanced facial treatments
  • Medical esthetics
  • Chemical peels and microdermabrasion
  • Laser skin treatments

Get relevant certifications

Earning certifications like CIDESCO or CIBTAC can increase your employability and appeal to clients. These are globally recognized and show a high level of expertise.

Build a professional network

Networking is crucial. Join groups like the NCEA, ASCP, EPA, or ISPA. These connections can lead to new job opportunities, clients, and partnerships.

Where the esthetician jobs are

Top employers

  • Hand and Stone Spa
  • European Wax Center
  • Ulta Beauty
  • Massage Envy
  • Bliss Spa

Top states

  • California
  • New York
  • Florida
  • Texas
  • Illinois

Top job sites

  • zengig
  • Indeed
  • Simply Hired
  • LinkedIn
  • Spa and Salon Staff


What specific skills or qualities does an esthetician need to be effective?

They should possess strong interpersonal skills, be patient, and have a caring demeanor. They should also have a solid understanding of skin care products, techniques, and treatments, as well as a knack for sales.

What kind of training or education is required for becoming an esthetician?

At a minimum, they should possess a high school diploma or equivalent. This should be followed by a state-approved esthetics training program; the length and content of the program can vary by state. After completion of an approved program, licensure must be obtained, which typically involves a practical and theoretical exam.

What types of treatments does an esthetician typically perform?

They are skilled in facials, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, body treatments, and waxing. Some may also specialize in laser treatments, micro-needling, or lymphatic drainage, depending on their training and state regulations.

What is the work environment of an esthetician like?

They can be found in spas, salons, medical clinics, and health and wellness centers. Some are self-employed and may run their own business. The work environment is generally clean and well-lit.

Are there any health risks associated with being an esthetician?

Some minor risks related to the job could include skin irritation from working with various products, muscle strain from standing for extended periods, or the potential for contracting infections if proper sanitation procedures are not followed. To minimize these risks, they must follow all health and safety guidelines associated with their work.

What is the typical work schedule for an esthetician?

They often have varied schedules, including evenings, weekends, and holidays to accommodate clients. Full-time and part-time positions are available, and many work more than 40 hours a week, particularly self-employed individuals who manage their own businesses.

Can an esthetician specialize in specific types of treatments?

Yes. Some may focus on treating certain skin conditions, such as acne or rosacea, while others may specialize in anti-aging treatments. Additionally, some individuals may be trained in more advanced procedures such as microneedling, chemical peels, and equipment such as lasers.

Is there a demand for estheticians?

Their demand is expected to grow in the coming years, in line with the general growth of the beauty and wellness industry. The increasing interest in natural and organic skincare treatments, as well as technological advancements in skincare treatments, are contributing to this growth.

Why should someone consider becoming an esthetician?

This can be a rewarding profession for those passionate about skincare and helping others feel confident in their own skin. It offers opportunities to meet and work with a diverse range of clients, stay informed about the latest trends and technology in skincare, and even run your own business. If one enjoys working with people and has an interest in beauty and wellness, this career could be a good fit.

Is being an esthetician a stressful job?

Like any job, it can have stressful elements, including standing for long periods, managing a busy appointment schedule, or dealing with difficult clients. However, many find the job satisfying and enjoyable, particularly when they see their services’ positive impact on a client’s confidence and well-being.