What's the Difference Between an Aesthetician and Esthetician?

Oct 20, 2021

Estheticians and aestheticians are both licensed skin specialists. They are trained to analyze and cleanse skin through a variety of techniques. Estheticians can be found in spas and salons, while aestheticians typically work in medical settings.

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Distinguishing between an esthetician and medical aesthetician can be tricky since both occupations are licensed skin care specialists. Here we will outline the major distinctions between the two job descriptions as well as education requirements, license requirements, career outlook, and salary information.

Aesthetician vs Esthetician Explained

Estheticians and medical aestheticians are both skin care specialists. Estheticians typically work out of salons and/or spas, while medical aestheticians typically work in medical settings and have more of a clinical focus. The main differences between the two occupations are the types of clients they work with and the settings in which they work. Let's take a look at the difference between esthetician and aesthetician careers.

What Is an Esthetician?

Traditional estheticians, also known as skincare specialists, clean skin through skin exfoliation, massage, aromatherapy, and facials. They also analyze skin to identify any health problems and temporarily remove hair. In addition to skin health, the esthetician definition in some cases includes a cosmetic focus and may apply makeup or consult individuals on the best products for their skin type. Estheticians can be found working in beauty salons, resorts, fitness clubs and spas. You'll be likely to see an esthetician if you go to a salon or spa and receive treatments like facials, hair removal, or makeup application. These professionals require dexterity, patience, interpersonal skills, and attention to detail in order to be successful in their career.

What Is an Aesthetician?

Medical aestheticians, also known as clinical or paramedical aestheticians, are skincare specialists with more of a clinical focus. They work with cancer patients, burn victims, and others with health-related issues. They treat and maintain facial skin that has been damaged because of fire, surgery, chemotherapy treatments and other incidents. Medical aestheticians are responsible for helping patients cleanse and moisturize their skin, as well as choose and apply the right makeup. Medical aestheticians work in hospitals, burn units, trauma centers, reconstructive surgery centers, and other healthcare facilities. While medical aestheticians and estheticians both focus on skincare, the medical aesthetician definition focuses on skincare for people in a clinical setting. You may find medical aestheticians working in dermatology offices or clinics where they may help to address rashes, acne, or other skin blemishes through medical treatments.

Education & Licensure Requirements

Both estheticians and medical aestheticians typically complete formal education in cosmetology or esthetician training. Varying degree programs can be obtained including an associate's degree, certificate, or diploma. Regardless of the type of degree or education program, an esthetician must complete practical training to be eligible for licensure.

Skincare specialist and esthetician programs typically include hands-on training and coursework in the following:

  • Dermal filler training
  • Botox injection training
  • Laser hair removal
  • Photofacial skin rejuvenation
  • Laser wrinkle reduction
  • Tattoo removal
  • Body contouring
  • Skin tightening
  • Sclerotherapy
  • Make up application
  • Business and communication skills

While there is much overlap between medical aesthetician and esthetician programs, the major difference is that esthetician programs are more generalized while medical aestheticians have more of a clinical and specialized focus

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), all states require personal appearance workers, such as skincare specialists, to be licensed. Licensure requirements vary by state, but typically include formal training and a high school diploma. Some states have a minimum number of completed training hours required for licensing as well as a minimum age requirement.

Aesthetician vs Esthetician Salary

According to the BLS, employment growth among skincare specialists is expected to be much faster than average, at a rate of 17% from 2019 to 2029. Salaries for skincare specialists vary depending on years of experience with the median salary being $34,090 as of 2019. Naturally, individuals with one year of experience may earn less than those with five or more years of experience. As of May 2019, skincare specialists in general earned a median hourly wage of $16.39, according to the BLS. For medical aestheticians who work in offices of physicians, as of May 2019, the median hourly wage was even higher at $19.80, according to the BLS.

A career as an esthetician or medical aesthetician involves close contact with clients and both involve caring for the skin. To practice as a licensed esthetician or medical aesthetician, you will need to undergo formal training in an education program. If interested in a hands-on career working closely with people and clients in a salon, spa, or medical setting, then a career as an esthetician or medical aesthetician is a great choice, especially considering the rapid growth in employment opportunities.

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