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An esthetician is a cosmetologist who specializes in skin care. Even as a niche within the world of beauty, esthetics has a lot of different fields, and an esthetician may practice in all or some of the following:

  • Facials
  • Skin peels
  • Microdermabrasion
  • Exfoliation
  • Waxing
  • Eyebrow shaping
  • Body firming wraps
  • Fake tan
  • Foot treatments and reflexology
  • Body polishing

As well as skin, some estheticians also do manicures, pedicures and things like eyelash tinting and semi permanent make up. An esthetician may also train as a make up artist, or in fields like hair care to become a more general cosmetologist. There are also medical estheticians who work in various medical and clinical settings with patients with skincare needs. Estheticians work in a wide range of places including:

  • Beauty salons
  • Spas
  • Hotels
  • Cruise ships
  • Doctors’ offices
  • Hospitals
  • From home, or at clients’ homes

With so many different things you can do and so many places you can work, being an esthetician is an exciting career offering lots of opportunities, and is suited to people who are interested in beauty and well being and enjoy working one to one with other people.

How do you become an esthetician?

Estheticians can be men or women of any age, and it is often a career that is taken up as a career change after a few years working in a different field, because it is a job that is interesting and rewarding but also very flexible – well suited to people with demanding family lives who want to work part time or on a self employed basis. Whether you train during or immediately after high school, or at any later point in life, you can study part or full time, and can also combine your training with studies in other areas that may help with the career you want, for example business studies or salon management, if you dream of opening or managing your own salon or spa!

How long it takes to qualify will depend on three factors – firstly, what the requirements are for licensing in your state (which can vary in terms of the number of hours practical experience you have as well as in terms of the certification exams you’ll need to pass), secondly, which fields you are interested in practicing in, and thirdly, how many hours a week you study and train for. Studying full time, you can qualify in under six months in most states, however it will take more like nine months to a year if you do it part time.

How much can you earn as an esthetician?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics most recent stats on esthetician earnings show that the median average annual salary for a professional esthetician in the USA is $28,920. Of course, there are a huge number of factors that can affect how much an esthetician makes, and this figure can be doubled or even trebled for highly successful people in the field of esthetics.

An esthetician working in a salon will usually have a structure of promotion where he or she can earn more as they gain experience and add additional skills and services to their repertoire. This career path can also lead into supervisory and management positions where salaries can be very high. Estheticians specializing in expensive and specialized procedures and treatments, or working at highly prestigious spas, salons and resorts will also earn more.

Estheticians also typically earn tips. Because tips are usually a percentage of the cost for a treatment to the client, they will be higher on expensive, complicated or highly specialized treatments. Whether you keep all of your own tips or pool them with other salon workers to split at the end of the day or week will impact how much you stand to make in tips, so this will be down to salon policy.

Some estheticians are self employed, either renting space in a salon, working from their own home or visiting clients. In this case, how your earnings work will depend on the rates you set, but will also need to cover the costs of all of your products and equipment.