How To Become an Esthetician: EPIC Guide to a Career in the Beauty Industry


There is nothing wrong with wanting to look great.

Many people spend plenty of money making their homes and cars beautiful because it's a reflection of their own attitudes toward success. It follows that personal beauty should also be a priority.

There are in fact many adages out there designed to make you feel better about yourself when you are less than beautiful in the conventional sense: beauty is in the eye of the beholder, it is more important to be beautiful on the inside, etc. and so forth and so on.

One adage that cuts both ways is beauty is only skin-deep. It can mean that beauty is not all that defines you. It could also mean that beautiful skin can make you more beautiful!

These are all true, but the fact is most people want to be as good looking as they can possibly manage! Call it narcissistic if you will, but this completely works in your favor if you are looking forward to a career as an esthetician. Becoming an esthetician will open opportunities for you to help every single person that wants to be more beautiful and remember--that is practically EVERYBODY!

So, if you have chanced upon our site looking for more information on how to become an esthetician, you are in the right place. It is a great career move and bound to make you the most popular person in your block, and if you're into looking great and helping people look great, you will have an awesome time just learning the craft.

As a wise man once said: 

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.


Chinese Philosopher

What could be better than a career doing what you love? Enough time has been wasted! Go get your learning goggles on for another EPIC guide from your beloved Skin Tightening Sage... 

How To Become An Esthetician: EPIC Guide To A Career In The Beauty Industry

What Is An Esthetician?

The science of skin as whole is the purview of dermatology, but aesthetic dermatology concentrates on esthetics. What is esthetics, you may ask. Esthetics is actually a branch of philosophy that ruminates on what makes something beautiful. It does not define what beauty is per se but how a particular individual conceives it to be. What may be beautiful to you may not be beautiful to others, for example.

An esthetician, however, is more concerned with the physical manifestations of beauty according to a particular set of standards in a specific culture or society. In modern Western culture, smooth, supple skin is beautiful. Understanding the profession of what is esthetician, or as some would say what is an aesthetician, is by understanding the aesthetician definition.

Estheticians are skin care professionals trained to provide cosmetic services involving the neck and the face that will result in smooth, supple skin. They are also trained in customer service, relaxation techniques, massage, hair removal, and permanent makeup applications. They are often employed in dermatological clinics, medical spas, and beauty salons and spas to do special skin treatments that require administration by a licensed professional.

There was a time when there was no distinction made between beauticians, cosmetologists, masseuses and estheticians. However, the last few decades have greatly expanded what we know about the skin, including the effects of the sun, the nature of certain skin disorders and problems, and how to treat them most effectively. This has given rise to technological advancements for the treatment of these skin issues and disorders.

what is an esthetician

Increasing technical requirements for some skin treatments and the high costs of physician services gave rise to the need by medical clinics and spas to provide a cost-effective but safe alternative for patients who wanted these treatments. That sparked the rise in demand for specially trained, licensed estheticians.

Chemical peels, for example, can cause permanent skin damage if someone who has no training administers them. It is a highly specialized field for those who want to make people beautiful but reject the notion of being a makeup artist or a hair stylist. It is relatively new profession, but this specialization has been growing exponentially in the last decade.

A career is something that should make you feel that you are a productive member of society. There is nothing more satisfying than helping others achieve skin health and beauty. This is the best way you can define esthetician priorities.

What Do Estheticians Do?

what is esthetics

The esthetician job description covers a wide range of services. They are not cosmetologists, who are mainly limited to do hair and makeup and nothing else.

Cosmetologists may undergo some of the training of an esthetician, but they are not required to have a license in most states, and they don’t need formal training. In many instances, a cosmetologist gets their training on the job as apprentices to more experienced cosmetologists.

What an esthetician does will depend on the facility where they are employed. A regular esthetician may be found in most spas that offer superficial skin treatments such as face massages, masks, and exfoliation.

However, a skin esthetician in a medical clinic or facility may be called a medical esthetician rather than just an esthetician. They serve as assistants to a dermatologist who are qualified to carry out some treatments without a doctor’s supervisions. This is essentially what is a medical esthetician.

The job description or definition of esthetician vs medical esthetician in terms of the work they perform overlap in many ways, but medical estheticians are qualified to do more procedures (see The Medical Esthetician).

Some people think that an aesthetician is different from estheticians, but there is really no distinction between an aesthetician vs. esthetician except for the spelling. However, there is a difference in the pay range of estheticians depending on the type of esthetician they are (see How Much Do Estheticians Make).

The Regular Esthetician

A regular esthetician should be able to perform/oversee:

  • Facial scrubs
  • Facials
  • Head and neck massages
  • laser treatments
  • Microdermabrasion
  • Chemical Peels
  • Waxing

They may also be required to:

  • Make an assessment of clients or patients
  • Discuss treatments options for client or patient skincare concerns
  • Provide suggested skincare regimens for clients or patients
  • Sterilize the equipment and work areas
  • Chat up some SUPER ANNOYING regulars... but I think this is true for almost any profession, really!

The Medical Esthetician

As mentioned earlier, the medical esthetician is employed in dermatology clinics or a medical skincare facility, or even a hospital, usually in oncology to help patients cope with skin or cosmetic issues they may have following cancer treatment. As such, they train in medical esthetics (or medical aesthetics) for which a regular esthetician may not be qualified. A medical aesthetician may be qualified to:

  • Do Botox injections
  • Inject dermal fillers
  • Instruct cancer patients and burn victims on proper makeup application
  • Perform permanent makeup procedures (i.e. eyebrow tattoos)
  • Provide presurgical and postsurgical skincare
  • Hair removal
  • Eyelash tinting

NOTE: A medical esthetician may also be called a paramedical esthetician if they primarily handle patients who have special needs. A paramedical esthetician would be of great service to patients who have lost hair to chemotherapy or who have recovered from burns and require special handling.

How Much Do Estheticians Make?

There are many employment opportunities for estheticians, and their compensation will depend on where they choose to work. The medical esthetician typically makes more than a regular esthetician employed in a beauty salon, for example. So how much does an esthetician makes?

what is a medical esthetician

If you watched the video at the top of this article you will probably be under the impression that most beauty professionals are making upwards of $10,000 per month in 2020. Unfortunately, this is most likely not the case! In 2013, the median salary of an esthetician was $28,940. This is culled from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which does not distinguish between the types of estheticians. However, medical aesthetician salary and nurse esthetician salary (those employed in hospitals and outpatient medical facilities) make an average annual salary of $47,430 and $45,620 while those in physician office offices make $40,990. The salaries will depend on state; the highest paid estheticians are in New Mexico for that year.

How To Become An Esthetician

An esthetician performs essential functions in the personal service, esthetic dermatology, and beauty industries. They do the work of cosmetologists and massage therapists, but they should have in-depth knowledge about how treatments and preparations work. It is not enough that they know what pressure points to concentrate on for a relaxing massage, for example; they should know what those pressure points do.

This in-depth knowledge includes knowing what a treatment is for, who are good candidates for it, and why one option is better than other alternatives. An esthetician will know that chemical peels, for example, work best for those with fair skin and not recommended for people with dark skin because they have a high risk of acne breakouts and skin discoloration.

An esthetician is also expected to know how to talk to clients or patients in a pleasant and professional manner. They are able to articulate themselves well when discussing a patient’s condition and issues, giving them treatment options, and explaining to them what to expect. They have to be pleasant and professional. These are minimum requirements for an esthetician anywhere.


In the US, only a licensed esthetician can perform certain skincare and medical spa treatments in the absence of a licensed dermatologist. Each state will have different educational and training requirements to obtain an esthetician license and these are unfortunately outside of the scope of this guide. Make sure to do some extra research and find out the facts and circumstances, depending on wherever you are planning to start your career.


  • You must be at least 16 years old
  • You must have graduated high school (or have a GED certificate) to enroll in training in esthetics
  • You must obtain in-school training from a state-approved and accredited cosmetology program

The required number of in-school training hours will vary from state to state. Some require as few as 250 hours (Oregon) while others mandate 1,500 hours (Alabama). Some offer shorter specialized training such as 75 hours for a waxing license (New York).


Once the required number of training hours has been accomplished, the candidate can then apply for an esthetics license by taking and passing the state board exam. All states will require both a written and practical exam, so be ready.

State rules and regulations on licensing and the expected standards of care for estheticians will be different for each state. It would be wise to become familiar with the state laws for obtaining and keeping your esthetician license to avoid any legal problems.


The costs of training required for how to become an aesthetician will vary depending on the program. According to this article, the average cost for a program ranges from $3,000 to $5,000, generally including tuition, student kits, textbooks, and needed supplies.

To obtain a license, the test fee is about $25, the initial license is about the same, and renewal can be $25 to $55 a year. This will depend on the state, of course.


There are part-time and full-time options for programs required for becoming an esthetician. As mentioned earlier, it can take as little as 300 hours to qualify for applying to become a licensed aesthetician, but part-time students will naturally take longer to obtain this. It can take anywhere between 4 months and one year to complete your training.

A regular esthetician will easily obtain employment in spas or beauty salons. It is projected that the demand will grow by 25% by 2020. A good way in how to become a medical esthetician is to first become a registered nurse and then taking additional courses for medical esthetics. You may then be called a nurse esthetician. An aesthetic nurse will have an easier time in getting higher-paying employment in hospitals and medical facilities.

Finding An Esthetics School

esthetician classes

Finding a good aesthetics school is one of the most important things you have to do once you want to be an esthetician. The top esthetician schools are not necessarily the best esthetician school for you, however. Making the right choice will depend on your goals and circumstances. For example, if you want to work at a particular spa, you will want to go to the school that they favor when looking for estheticians. Medical clinics and hospitals will probably refer you to an accredited medical aesthetician school. At the very least, you can interview a number of prospective employers about what to look for when searching for an esthetician school online, such as certifications and degree programs.

To qualify for a license, the aesthetician school you choose should have state accreditation for their esthetician program, preferably one recognized by the National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences (NACCAS) but not necessarily. A medical esthetician school can be a beauty school, technical or trade school, or career college which offers a diploma for the applicable type of esthetics you have chosen.

One of the more important questions a potential student will also is how long is esthetician school training. This will depend largely on what is esthetician school chosen and the esthetician classes included.


  • Anatomy
  • Body Treatments, Wraps, Aromatherapy
  • Common Skin Conditions & Disorders
  • Cosmetic Sciences, Chemistry & Structure
  • Facials, Cleansing, Toning & Massaging
  • Hair and Hair Growth and Development
  • Hair Removal and Waxing
  • Human Physiology
  • Makeup Techniques
  • Marketing  & Sales
  • Reflexology
  • Safety, Sanitation & Sterilization
  • Salon Management
  • Elements That Affect Skin
  • Best Practices in Exfoliation Methods
  • Creating Facial Masks

Classroom instruction in a good program is comprehensive, but because estheticians do hands-on work, they are typically required a certain number of hours in practical applications. These may include but are not limited to waxing, massage, and facial treatments on actual patients.

Esthetic training is not just one type of training. Depending on whether you choose a full diploma program or shorter certificate programs, the esthetician school cost will vary. Medical aesthetics training is typically longer, and may include some medical courses or nurse training. You can enroll in a basic esthetics program for licensing requirements, but it would be advisable to also take advanced esthetician programs and continuing education courses. This will increase your skills and marketability, and this translates to better wages and employment in more prestigious facilities.

Finding And Applying For An Esthetics Job

medical esthetician careers

Your success in applying for the esthetician job of your dreams will hinge on your resume. Remember that the employer does not know you, so they will base their hiring on the information you give them.


  • Skills (skin, hair removal, microdermabrasion, massage therapy, etc.)
  • Academic qualifications
  • Special training
  • Relevant work experience

The esthetician cover letter is a summary of your relevant skills and an explanation of why you are the perfect candidate for the job. You will have to customize both your cover letter and resume to emphasize areas for which your prospective employer will be interested in.

For example, if you are targeting medical esthetician jobs, you should put your medical training i.e. nursing qualifications front and center followed by your certificate in medical esthetics and relevant work experience in the field. If possible, keep your resume to one page with all the salient points included. Employers will not care about your accomplishments in high school or your riveting performance in college theater. In resumes, as in most things in life, the best is to KISS.

Here is a good esthetician resume sample:

esthetician resume sample


You can have a great esthetician career if you plan your job applications as carefully as you prepare your clients for treatments. Don't try too hard to impress anyone... if you've done the work, the rest will follow!

Striking Out On Your Own

OK! Let's just fast-forward into the future a bit here...

Let's say that you've earned the respect of all your beauty peers, have amassed yourself a sizable number of loyal customers and have finally thought of setting up your own esthetician clinic. Now that you've had some time to learn the ropes and get into the groove of being part of a full-time business, sometimes an entrepreneurial streak will take over and you will start wondering to yourself, "Hey, what if I went out and did this on my own?"

This is a perfectly fair concern and there may actually be plenty of you that will really start out from the get go with owning their own beauty business in mind. If this is the case, here are some things that you will have to take into consideration upon leaving your current employer to set out on your own.

Esthetician Supplies

When you work for a spa, clinic, or hospital, esthetician supplies are there for your use as well as basic esthetician equipment. However, if you work from home or you have a mobile spa, you will need to make an investment. What these are will depend on what services you will offer, but here are some of the basics:


  • Esthetician table that combines a facial trolley and hot cabinet for towels
  • Esthetician Chair (adjustable is possible)
  • Magnifying lenses with lamp
  • Facial steamers
  • Sterilizing equipment
  • Bowls, vials, beakers, etc.
  • Syringes for application
  • Product (masks, creams, astringent, lotions, etc.)

Experts recommend stand alone equipment opposed to multi-function ones to avoid problems when one function breaks down and the whole thing has to be brought in for repair. This would probably be the best advice for someone starting out... even something as simple as this could bring your new business to a grinding halt!

You can check out some clinical grade tightening equipment here.

Esthetician Uniforms

Are you and your staff wearing the proper esthetician uniforms to give off a professional touch? At some point, your business may take off and it will be time to consider professionalizing your workplace and this is a great way to do it. Great esthetician uniforms will not only make your customers more comfortable with your practice, but they will give you a great sense of confidence as well!

Anyone can get some custom uniforms made at local tailor but what could they look like? Well, a simple Google Images search will give you all the inspiration you'll ever need! Here are some great picks I found for you:

esthetician uniforms
medical esthetician school
how long is esthetician school
what is esthetician school
esthetician classes
esthetician courses
esthetician school cost
esthetician training
medical aesthetics training

The Overall Experience

As a business owner and an entrepreneur myself, there is one side of running your own business that is sometimes overlooked. It never hurts to put a tad of attention the aesthetic of you esthetics business!

There is nothing more important to me than the overall experience of your customers. Investing in education/training, a license, a business location and start up equipment may all set you back but new business owners will sometimes forget to also allot some funds to how your business "feels" or appears to your clients.

Customers will naturally feel more comfortable working with you if the experience is complete and you must do your best to give them as complete of a perception of the business as possible--all at as little of a cost as you can manage!

Ask yourself simple experience-related questions to get inside your customer's head in order to revamp your business for the better...


  • Are your customers comfortable?
  • Do you have a clean and peaceful atmosphere in your clinic/place of business?
  • Is there somewhere to entertain people who may be waiting?
  • Are customers being exposed to any uncomfortable situations during their visit? (i.e. distractions, noise, a lack of privacy, other rude customers, etc.)
  • Do your clients feel that they are in good, professionally-skilled hands?
  • Is it easy for your customers to give suggestions and comments about your business?

A lot of these questions are the focus of many business owners and having your own place will certainly introduce these same situations into your life but its all part of the entrepreneurial rush!

Once you have your new place up and running, attend some local events... choose a few beauty expos or skincare events. Even better, find a neighborhood event that your potential customers may be attending and make sure to have nice esthetician business cards for a professional touch! 

Last but not least, get esthetician insurance! The law does not require it but you need financial protection in case the unexpected happens i.e. malfunctioning machine.

If you don’t include your tuition fee, which will run anywhere between $3,000 and $10,000, you can expect to spend as little as $1,000 for a home based spa if you keep it to the bare minimum at the start. For example, for exfoliation you can stick with a facial steamer ($60) as opposed to a microdermabrasion machine ($250 to $2,000 depending on the brand). However, if you want to go big or you are planning a mobile spa, then the costs will definitely be much higher.


PHEW! I hope you've enjoyed this EPIC guide to starting a wonderful career in the beauty industry. Your beloved Sage is always looking for a way to help out and I really hope this guide can give someone out there a good foundation to start on.  A career in the beauty industry may not be for everyone but if you have the passion and the patience to succeed, literally anything is possible. What would be better than knowing how to make people beautiful and getting paid for it? Not much if you ask me...

Learn how to become an esthetician with the Skin Tightening Sage today!

Esthetician Infographics

Check out these awesome infographics I found on the web... All the sources are indicated within the images so please check them out if you need more information! ENJOY!

how to become an esthetician

Additional Research:

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