How to Become an Esthetician in a Changing Economy

10 Feb, 21

woman becoming an esthetician superhero


When the world seems like it’s upside down, we may be at a loss for how to move forward. But there is light at the end of the tunnel, and in this changing economy, we’re learning to adapt, reassess and pivot to move forward. If you’ve ever considered a career in beauty, now is the perfect time to get started learning how to become an esthetician, and we’ll tell you why that is. And you’ve just become a licensed esthetician; we’re going to share ways to get your first steps right so that you set yourself up for success.


In this article, we’re going over what you can expect from becoming an esthetician. From the requirements and training in your state to all the career and money-making possibilities that come with an esthetics license, we’ll get you on the path to start your exciting new career.


What is an Esthetician?

At its core, an esthetician works with clients providing skin and body services that include but aren’t limited to facials, acne and anti-aging treatments, body wraps, hair removal, and more. Having an esthetician’s license means having a passion and intrinsic knowledge of how the skin works, skincare products, ingredients, and the solutions to meet various needs.


Becoming an esthetician doesn’t mean that you are bound to working in a spa or salon. Take your me, author, for example. I pursued my esthetician’s license in 2004 to solely do eyebrows. My career led me to work in sales, be a brand representative, corporate educator, and eventually, a content creator for some of the biggest brands in the world, like Starpil Wax!




Should I become an esthetician?

Becoming an esthetician is for those who enjoy working with the skin, beauty products, and serving others. Esthetics is also an option for those already in business, marketing, or nursing, as those skills are a must for a successful esthetics career.


The requirements to become an esthetician vary by state and include an average of 600 hours (more info below) to apply to get your state-certified license. You need to be about 17 years old and have some high school education to start training in most states. Some programs allow you to start training while still in high school for school credit.


How many hours does it take to become an esthetician?

The number of hours it takes to become an esthetician depends on which state you want to get your license in. The average number of hours is 600 but can be as little as 150 hours and upward of 1000 training hours in some states.

Some of the states that take the most school/apprentice hours to become an esthetician

  • Alabama              1500/2000 
  • Georgia                1000/2000
  • Kansas                  1000/N/A
  • Kentucky             1000/N/A
  • Nevada                900/N/A
  • Missouri               750/1500
  • Vermont              600/12 Months


Some of the states that take the lowest amount of school/apprentice hours to become an esthetician.


  • Alaska                         350/350
  • District of Columbia   125/N/A
  • Florida                        260/N/A
  • Massachusetts        300/N/A
  • Pennsylvania           300/N/A
  • Wisconsin                 450/450
  • South Carolina        450/N/A


How much does it cost to go to school to become an esthetician?

The costs of an esthetics course vary significantly between schools. Community colleges can start from $2500, while private trade schools can start at $9,000 for tuition. Schools usually provide full esthetician kits.


Is becoming an esthetician worth it?

There are many benefits to becoming an esthetician. Ultimately, you have more control over your pay; there’s flexibility for the working woman, diverse career options, and ample opportunity for challenge and growth. You also get to work with and help a range of people.


It can be enriching to grow a business and also grow with your clients. There is nothing like watching your client’s eyes light up after meeting needs that they had no idea how to meet. If you love beauty, an esthetics career will keep you on your toes. There is no cap on earning potential or learning opportunities. If you are a champion of women, esthetics is a powerful vehicle in working with and for them.




How to Become an Esthetician

Begin by looking up your state's Board of Cosmetology requirements for getting an esthetician license. Most states require anywhere from 150 to over 1200 hours at an accredited training program to qualify for a license. Some states allow apprenticeship hours instead of or in addition to school hours.


After finishing your hours, you’ll apply for the State Board exam. You will already have begun studying and practicing for this test like there is no tomorrow. Around 51% of people fail the written part of this test, so proper preparations are necessary.


When you finish your hours, you can apply to take the state exam to obtain a professional license. Thirty-one states use a National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology (NIC) exam method. Other states most likely use a similar method. The NIC is the leading national authority on evaluating esthies obtaining a state license. The exam, which altogether takes about three hours, includes a written test of approximately 120 questions on the skin, scientific concepts, best practices, and a practical, hands-on exam where you perform services that align with your state’s laws and regulations.


If you fail any part of the test, you will have to reschedule. You can fail the exam only a certain amount of times before you’re required to go back to school in some states. If you pass, you will want to start (if you haven’t already) applying for openings for an apprenticeship or entry-level positions at your spa or salon of choice.


On a Personal Note.

I wanted to be a makeup artist and do eyebrows for a specific brow guru in Los Angeles. You don’t need a license to do makeup in California, but it has helped immensely! Before I started esthetician school, I introduced myself to the brow guru. I told her that I was starting school with the sole intention of working with her. As soon as I passed my test, I began working under her. If you want to know how to be an esthetician, my advice is to find the spa and salon in your choice’s esthetics field, and with the clientele you will hope to acquire for your career growth.


What can I do with an esthetician certificate?

Becoming an esthetician can lead to many different career paths, including working at salons, spas, resorts, or even cruise ships. Licensed estheticians can also serve as medical estheticians, makeup artists, brand ambassadors and representatives, sales professionals, salon managers, product buyers, marketing and content creators, brand educators, state board employees, and more.


Since there is no one way to know how to be an esthetician, the sky is the limit once you’ve received your license. The trick is to find your niche. Most esthetician schools only offer basic training in adhering to state board regulations; they might not necessarily prepare you for “the real world.” You will need advanced training in your chosen field, so continuing education or apprenticing in facials, hair removal, or other modalities like eyelash extensions, microblading, or threading is par for the course.


Years after working in salons, spas, film, and fashion as a brow and makeup artist, I became a brand rep and later a content creator and worked with big brow brands educating their global field teams. I still attend workshops and classes on advanced hair removal, makeup artistry, and even business and marketing. And even after 16 years, I am still learning and adding to what I can do with my esthetician’s license.




Do estheticians make good money? 

Depending on which state you live in, a salon professional’s annual salary is $34,090. In a changing economy, that might not be considered good money. Still, this number does not include the potential earnings of those working on their own or estheticians who work in other fields outside of offering skincare treatments. 

United States Annual Esthetician Salary Average: $34,000  


Esthetician Salary by State:

Esthetician Salaries by State in the USA (Infographic)


Can estheticians make six figures?

Since there are so many career options for those with an esthetician’s license, there is a lot of potential for making six figures. From salon professionals offering high-end services and salon owners to executive-level beauty marketers, esthetics can be highly lucrative.


If you are a salon professional, building a loyal clientele takes time, but once you’ve achieved a high-volume clientele, it is in your best interest to acquire your own space or become a salon owner yourself. When learning how to be an esthetician, it’s wise to begin your career to apprentice at high-end salons or spas and to offer high-ticket services in your chosen esthetics field once you go solo. For example, if you are a waxer, your focus would be on mastering more expensive services that you love doing, like Brazilian waxing, so that you are justified in setting that service price at the higher end of your market rate.


Those offering high-ticket services like eyelash extensions or microblading can be in the running for making six figures a year. Medical estheticians with nursing degrees can offer more invasive and expensive services like Botox, laser therapies, high-percentage acid peels, and more. 


In the current economy, no matter what your chosen esthetics niche is, hiring or performing digital marketing, informative and engaging content can be your bread and butter. If you retail products, having an online store is critical. Giving your clients online access to reviews, payments and appointment setting is also crucial. Even if you offer the best services in your area, you will need to let the world know, and that requires strong business and marketing skills more than ever if you want to earn six figures.




What products do estheticians use?

Estheticians use a wide range of beauty products and equipment for their business, depending on their field of esthetics they choose. For example, a skincare professional will use high-quality skincare and machines, while a waxing professional will use wax and wax warmers.


No matter which field of esthetics you go into, choosing the right products takes know-how. Here are a few tips on picking the right products for your business.


  • Choose brands and products that are known for catering to salon professionals.
  • Work with brands that wholesale products and offer extensive brand support.
  • Your products should have great reviews
  • Choose full-service curated kits to facilitate a full service in your chosen field, like a spa starter kit.



Complete with best-selling hard waxes, pre-and post-wax care, accessories, and a spa bed, this is the perfect kit to jumpstart your esthetics career in hair removal.




Final thoughts

There are so many avenues to figuring out how to become a licensed esthetician in a changing economy, so it’s essential to get all the help you can on this incredible journey. How can Starpil provide more support on your road to becoming an esthetician or building your business? We’ve got an ultimate Salon Glow Up Guide to help as well as our Starpil Mentorship Program. We also provide never-ending resources in the form of blogs like these and our dedicated Pro Account Managers to share with you everything there is to know about being the best waxer in your field!



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