How to Become an Esthetician: The Complete Guide

Updated on January 12, 2024

Have a passion for healthy, beautiful skin? Consider training to become a licensed esthetician. This hands-on career lets you provide pampering facial treatments, gentle waxing services, and gorgeous makeup applications to help clients look and feel their best.

As the global wellness industry expands, demand and salaries for skilled estheticians rise. Medispas, salons, and spas seek these skin gurus to meet growing customer demand for services like chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and eyelash extensions.

Follow this comprehensive guide to discover how to become an esthetician, step-by-step:

Ensure You Meet Basic Requirements

While specific rules vary by state, here are typical prerequisites to becoming a licensed esthetician:

Start saving funds and assessing your fitness. Incorporating part-time skincare assistant roles into high school or undergraduate years builds helpful familiarity, too.

Complete Esthetician Training at an Accredited Program

You must train at state board-approved institutions to qualify for required licensing exams. Two primary paths exist:

Attend an Esthetician School

These programs, typically running 600 hours over six months (though some states require up to 1,000 hours), cover:

    • Facial techniques: skin analysis, cleansing, extraction
    • Body treatments: body wraps, hydrotherapy, aromatherapy
    • Chemical peels, microdermabrasion machines
    • Makeup skills: day, evening, special event
    • Hair removal via waxing/tweezing
    • Business/retail: selling products, managing payroll
    • Health/Safety: disinfection, sanitation

    Standard esthetic programs run 600 hours over roughly six months full-time. Some states mandate up to 1,000 hours, though. Programs lead to diplomas or certificates qualifying graduates to take licensing exams. Consider community colleges for budget-friendly accredited options.

    Complete a Board-Approved Apprenticeship

    Apprenticeships provide paid onsite training under an experienced esthetician mentor’s supervision. These earn you licenses, too. However, required hours equalling school programs mean longer commitments of up to 1-2 years of training part-time. You must still pass the same license exams.

    Pass the State Licensing Exams

    Esthetician hopefuls must successfully pass:

    Exams are administered by either State Boards or the standardized National-Interstate Council (NIC). Fees average $70-115 per test.

    The NIC Esthetic Theory Exam covers:

    The NIC Esthetic Practical Exam evaluates:

    Use provided references and sample tests to study adequately for the best first-try pass chances. Some states mandate specific school training hours beforehand, too.

    Submit Your Esthetician License Application

    With accredited esthiology education and passed licensing tests complete, apply for an initial license by:

    • Completing state paperwork listing your completed training hours and curriculum
    • Including passport photos
    • Paying required fees around $70

    If approved, the state board formally issues your license for legal practice as an esthetician!

    Consider Advancing Your Qualifications

    All states mandate that licensed estheticians renew credentials every 1-2 years through more applications and payments.

    Some estheticians pursue advanced certifications in specialty services like machine facials or permanent makeup. Others earn business, marketing or medical degrees to open their own clinics.

    Both the Associated Skin Care Specialists (ASCP) and National Coalition of Estheticians (NCEA) offer premium certifications like “Certified Clinical Esthetician” and “National Certification” for licensees documenting extra expertise on practical tests. Such designations can lead to senior spa roles.

    Continually advancing your education through conferences, workshops and mentorships ensures you offer clients the latest skin solutions.

    Getting Hired as an Esthetician

    Building an Esthetics Resume + Portfolio

    Carefully catalog all your training, certifications, externships, and hands-on experience gained during school. Highlight specialized skills on your resume. Create a portfolio with patient photos showing your waxing, makeup and facial talents.

    Preparing For Esthetician Interviews

    Common questions asked include your motivations for this career, describing how you’d handle difficult skin conditions, product ingredient knowledge, and approaches to sanitation or difficult clients. Use online resources to practice articulate responses.

    Applying to Diverse Settings

    Submit applications to spas, resorts, salons, cosmetic surgeons and dermatologists. Be open exploring alternatives to day spas. If you connect well with the staff and see earning potential, don’t rule out any options prematurely when building your clientele and skills.

    Build Your Esthetician Clientele

    Newly licensed estheticians have various options to develop a loyal client base:

    As your reputation, abilities, and customer network grows over 1-2 years, consider potentially:

    Esthetician Salary and Job Outlook

    On average, U.S. estheticians earn $36,119 annually across settings like salons, spas, and physicians’ offices according to 2022 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Income potential rises significantly for self-employed estheticians charging premium rates.

    Years ExperienceAverage Esthetician Salary
    < 1 year$25,000-$30,000
    3 – 5 years$40,000-$50,000
    8+ years$70,000+

    Continually Learn and Thrive

    The best estheticians never stop advancing their knowledge and approach. They:

    • Voraciously read skincare journals and follow influencers
    • Take advanced courses in specialty services like micro-needling
    • Regularly try new facial devices and treatment products
    • Attend annual professional conferences to stay atop trends
    • Experiment with novel techniques based on scientific literature

    This lifelong commitment to honing your expertise lets you transform more clients’ lives with cutting-edge skin health solutions year after year.

    On this rewarding path, your esthetician career ambitions are truly boundless. From glitzy media makeup gigs to product development labs, licensed estheticians find diverse opportunities to leverage their unique skills, blending science, beauty, and client care.

    FAQs: Becoming an Esthetician

    How long does it take?

    Full-time students can complete esthetics training in as little as 4 to 6 months. Factor in several additional months for licensing exams/credentialing.

    What’s the cost of training?

    Esthetics programs at private schools run $10,000 to $20,000 including tuition, books/kits and licensing exam fees. Community college programs are more affordable.

    Can I work part-time while getting certified?

    Yes! Many accelerated night/weekend esthetic programs accommodate working students. Some apprenticeships also pay modest training wages.

    At what age can you start?

    In most states, esthetician students must be at least 16-17 years old. There is no maximum age to begin and many enter the field later in life.