Esthetician Education Requirements and Career Information

Oct 20, 2021

If you love helping others to look their best, a career in esthetics might be right for you. Estheticians must be licensed by the state in which they work, and you'll need to be trained at an accredited school before obtaining your license. Do your research on cosmetology schools and be sure to select one that's state approved, has experienced and knowledgeable teaching staff, and offers opportunities to gain practical experience as well as classroom learning.

Essential Information

Estheticians are licensed by the state to provide facials, hair removal and other skin care services to enhance the health and appearance of one's skin. Education and licensing requirements vary by state, but they typically require estheticians to have completes a state-approved cosmetology or esthetician program.

Required Training Cosmetology or esthetician program
Other Requirements State licensure
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)* 17% for all skincare specialists
Median Salary (2019)* $34,090 for all skincare specialists

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Esthetician Education Requirements

Requirements to become an esthetician vary by state. Generally, applicants must be at least 16-17 years old and pass their state's board exam to obtain a license. To qualify to take the licensure exam, applicants must pass a state-approved skin care and esthetics course at a beauty or cosmetology school. The clinical hours for these courses range from 250-1,500 hours, with most states requiring 600.

Choosing a School

It is important that prospective estheticians attend a reputable, state-approved school that has a competent and qualified teaching staff. The State Board of Cosmetology provides information about each state's professional standards, which may help individuals identify schools that will help them meet those requirements.

Once a few state-approved schools have been located, potential students should visit them to ask questions of current students and teachers and survey the grounds and equipment. They should also make sure that there is a licensed esthetician on the teaching staff. Individuals should seek a balance of classroom and clinical training that allows them to gain substantial hands-on experience. Before formally enrolling, they may also wish to assess and compare the costs and curriculum between schools.

Areas of Study

Esthetics courses explore the science, anatomy and physiology of the skin; students undertake lessons in skin analysis, skin care theory and basic chemistry. Students are also taught how to perform facials, full body waxing, body wraps and scrubs, manicures, pedicures, eyebrow tinting, makeup application and aromatherapy treatments. Additional classes cover professionalism, client communication, sanitation and disinfection.

Many schools also offer master courses that are comprised of considerably more hours and advanced topics. These courses teach skin care techniques with sophisticated technologies such as microdermabrasion, chemical peels and laser skin treatments.

Career Information

Licensed estheticians can find employment at spas, salons, resorts and department store skin care counters; they may also work with dermatologists, plastic surgeons and nutritionists. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual income for skin care specialists was $34,090 in May 2019 ( The BLS also estimates a 17% increase in employment opportunities for these workers from 2019-2029.

Once you complete your studies and clinical hours at cosmetology school, you're ready to get your esthetician license and start helping people with their skincare needs. If you want to specialize in certain services or techniques, some schools offer advanced courses. With your license in hand you'll be qualified to work at spas, stores, and salons or even with a medical professional.

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