How to Become a Cosmetic Nurse: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Oct 20, 2021

What is an Aesthetic Nurse?

Cosmetic nurses, more commonly known as aesthetic nurses or plastic surgical nurses, are responsible for assisting with clinical procedures as well as pre- and post-operative care of patients. These professionals are usually registered nurses (RNs) or nurse practitioners (NPs), also called advanced practice registered nurses (APRN). Aesthetic nurse qualifications include education, certification, and training. Common procedures these nurses carryout include dermal filler and neurotoxin injections, laser hair removals and non-invasive body contouring. They may see patients independently; although, treating patients will likely be done under the supervision of a medical doctor. Cosmetic nurses commonly work at outpatient surgical centers and medical spas, and may work part-time or full-time hours.

An aesthetic nurse works to provide patients with cosmetic services

Cosmetic Nurse Career Requirements

Aesthetic nurse requirements start with a bachelor's degree. For those cosmetic nurses who wish to become nurse practitioners, a master's degree is needed. Additionally, 2 to 3 years of experience is typically required to work in this field. A state-issued RN license is also required, and voluntary certification is available. Cosmetic nurses should have good interpersonal, communication and critical-thinking skills. They should also have compassion, attention to detail, and physical stamina.

How to Become an Aesthetic Nurse Practitioner

Step 1: Earn a Nursing Degree

Cosmetic nurse positions typically require that candidates have a registered nurse (RN) or nurse practitioner (NP) license, which constitutes having at least a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). A master's degree is the minimum education needed to work as a nurse practitioner. However, this job does not require having an advanced nursing degree since the RN or NP requirement is interchangeable.

In some cases, nurses who are interested in cosmetic nursing can begin seeking experience in their specialization while still in school. Some education institutions offer training in areas such as fat grafting, liposuction, chemical peel and dermal filler.

Step 2: Obtain a Nursing License

The next step for prospective cosmetic nurses is to obtain an RN license. Candidates must complete the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN) as well as graduate from an approved nursing program. Some licensing requirements for registered nurses may vary by state. Those who wish to pursue optional licensing as an advance practice registered nurse (APRN) must already posses an RN license and will need to pass an additional exam. This will allow you to become an aesthetic RN.

Step 3: Gain Experience in Cosmetic Nursing

Once licensed, individuals can find employment at plastic surgery and medial spa centers as an assistant to a cosmetic nurse. Since cosmetic nurses typically need at least two years of experience to practice, newly licensed nurses may benefit from job shadowing opportunities. During shadowing, individuals may learn about common cosmetic nurse job functions, such as assessing skin aging, administering Botox injections and performing post-operative care.

Step 4: Consider an Aesthetic Nurse Specialist Certification

Although voluntary, obtaining this specialty certification can demonstrate to prospective employers that a nurse has competency in carrying out cosmetic procedures when you are looking at getting aesthetic nurse jobs. This can give you further information on how to become a cosmetic injector or other aesthetic nurse specialty. The Certified Aesthetics Nurse Specialist (CANS) credential is available through the Plastic Surgical Nursing Certification Board (PSNCB). Eligibility requirements for the CANS exam include having an RN license and two years of experience as an RN with one of those years working in facial plastic surgery ENT, plastic/aesthetic surgery, dermatology or ophthalmology. Those who pass the exam must recertify every three years by accruing 45 contact hours through continuing education.

Aesthetic Nurse Job Duties

Aesthetic nurse job duties include the following:

  • Perform aesthetic procedures on patients
  • Consult with patients about their needs and desires
  • Work alongside cosmetic surgeons and other medical professionals
  • Maintain an excellent bedside manner at all times


Where Do Cosmetic Nurses Work?

Cosmetic nurses typically work in plastic surgery clinics and hospitals. They do not typically have their own practices, but rather work alongside cosmetic surgeons and doctors.

How Much Does an Aesthetic Nurse Make?

According to May 2019 data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses earned a median salary of $73,300, which includes a cosmetic nurse salary. An aesthetic nurse salary can vary from $52,080 at the lower end to around $111,220 at the upper end of the spectrum. All registered nurses can expect a 7% growth in their job prospects between the years of 2019 and 2029, according to the BLS. This is faster than the average for all jobs in the U.S.

How Long Does it Take to Become an Aesthetic Nurse?

It takes at least four years to become an aesthetic nurse, and typically more like six in order to complete all of the certification and licensure requirements and get hired in a practice. The only degree required for an aesthetic nurse is a BSN which, like most undergraduate degrees, is typically completed in four years.


If you are interested in becoming an aesthetic nurse, consider researching and joining one or more of the following organizations:

  • The American Aesthetic Association
  • The International Society of Plastic and Aesthetic Nurses
  • The American Association of Aesthetic Medicine and Surgery

In summary, cosmetic nurses need a bachelor's degree in nursing and a nursing license as well as 2-3 years of experience in the cosmetic field.

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