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How to Become an Esthetician | The Ultimate Guide

woman becoming an esthetician superhero

If you’ve got the itch to start switching things up a bit and pursue your passions, you might be intrigued by the prospect of becoming an esthetician and being a part of people’s self-care processes. 

Whether you’re interested in switching careers from your existing one, or are pursuing a career as an esthetician under other circumstances, there’s no better time than the present to make your dreams a reality. 

Wondering how to make it happen? If you’re wondering how to become an esthetician, an esthetician's average salary, or the requirements to become an esthetician, we can help with that.

Table of Contents

  • What is an Esthetician?
  • Types of Estheticians
  • What’s the Difference Between an Aesthetician and an Esthetician? 
  • Is it Hard to Become an Esthetician?
  • How Long Does it Take to Become an Esthetician?
  • Requirements to Become an Esthetician
  • How to Become an Esthetician Online
  • What Can I Do With an Esthetician Certificate? 
  • Do Estheticians Make Good Money? 
  • What Products do Estheticians Use? 
  • Final Thoughts
  • In this article, we’ll go 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. Plus, if you’ve just become a licensed esthetician, we’ll be sharing ways to get your first steps right so that you set yourself up for success.

    What is an Esthetician?

    At its core, an esthetician works with clients to provide 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 being passionate about and having an intrinsic knowledge of how the skin works, skincare products, ingredients, and the solutions to meet various needs.

      If you want to become a licensed esthetician, it also doesn’t mean that you are bound to work in a spa or salon. Working as an esthetician can lead you to be a brand representative, corporate educator, or even a content creator for some of the biggest brands in the world (like Starpil!).

    READ: Dermatologist vs Esthetician 

    Types of Estheticians

    If you want to learn how to become a licensed esthetician, it’s important to know the different types of estheticians there are and to decide if there are any areas you would like to focus on specifically. 

    This can also dictate what your esthetician salary will be, so it’s important to make sure you’re doing what you love, and what will be right for you financially.

    Skincare Specialist

    Skincare Specialist

    These estheticians focus on providing clients with the skincare products, facials, and procedures that keep their skin looking its best. This speciality goes beyond just facial treatments to also focus on skin conditions involving the full body. 

    Facial Specialist

     Facial Specialist performing service on woman

    Facial Specialists study rigorously to learn and practice in depth facial care procedures, including facials and deep cleansing treatments. 

    Spa Therapists

    Spa therapist giving client a massage

    This speciality requires training in a variety of disciplines to cater to the needs of salon customers, including facial and full body massage techniques. 

    Waxing Specialists

    Waxing Specialist

    Wondering how to become a waxer or how to become a wax specialist? This concentration trains specialists to remove hair from all over the body, but can focus on certain areas of hair removal as well. 

    READ: How to Start a Waxing Business

    What’s the Difference Between an Aesthetician and an Esthetician?

    Because they have almost identical names and work in similar professions, it’s common for a lot of people, not that familiar with skincare, waxing, or related industries to get the two professions mixed up. 

    However, aestheticians usually handle the medical side of skincare, whereas estheticians focus more on cosmetic treatments like providing facials and waxing services. 

    Medical esthetician performing service on woman's face

    If you’re wondering how to become a certified medical esthetician, this distinction can be even more important. You don’t want to wind up going into the wrong field, after all! 

    Though both operate medically, medical estheticians are equipped to perform botox or invasive cosmetic procedures, whereas aestheticians focus more on treating patients with serious skin issues.

    Is it Hard to 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 opportunities and include an average of 600 hours to apply to get your state-certified license. You need to be at least 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 Long Does it Take to Become an Esthetician?

    If you're wondering how long it takes to become an esthetician and are unsure of the time commitment it takes to pursue schooling, we have the complete breakdown. 

    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  350/350125/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 Become an Esthetician?

    The costs of an esthetics course vary significantly between schools. Community colleges can start from $2,500, 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, especially if you start your own independent business, you’ll have much more control over your pay - plus there are other flexible and diverse career options in the industry 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. 

    READ: 5 Esthetician Books to Build Your Business

    Requirements 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 should start studying and practicing for this test as soon as possible! 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.

    READ MORE: Top Bikini Wax Styles for 2022

    How to Become an Esthetician Online

    There are lots of accredited online esthetician programs online that provide you with all of the training needed to get your license and become a successful esthetician. 

    Taking an online course will not change the average amount of hours you’ll need to complete for specialized training, but can be a little more affordable and more flexible. 

    To become an esthetician online, you’ll want to enroll in an accredited online program that passes all of the state board requirements in your area. Next, you’ll choose the type of program (associate’s degree, certification, or diploma) you want to enroll in, as well as the specialization you’re interested in. 

    From there, you’ll attend your online classes, complete your hours and pass your training, and then take your examination for estheticians. Once you pass that, you can apply for your license and begin practicing as a licensed esthetician!

    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 be an esthetician, the sky's 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 may need advanced training in your chosen field, so you might want to research continuing your education or apprenticing in facials, hair removal, or other modalities like eyelash extensions, microblading, or threading.

    READ: How to Wax Step by Step

    Do Estheticians Make Good Money? 

    The average licensed esthetician salary in the United States is around $40,000, but can vary state by state.

    Keep in mind, this is the average salary of an esthetician working in a salon, before tips are taken into account. This number also does not include the potential earnings of those working on their own or estheticians who work in other fields outside of offering skincare treatments.

    Esthetician Career Information:


    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. If you’re looking for a total for “How much can an esthetician make?”, the sky is really the limit. 

    From salon professionals offering high-end services and salon owners to executive-level beauty marketers, esthetics can be highly lucrative. You can even reach celebrity-esthetician status on social media through your work - and then you can really make some serious money! 

    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.

    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. 

    READ: Why Using Pre and Post Waxing Products is a Must

    How to Increase Your Profits

    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 sell 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.

    It’s also important to make sure you’re offering a unique, varied, and wide array of services and products to your clients for services and as take-home add-ons

    By offering your clients services that cater to their specific skin types or lifestyle choices, you’ll tap into niche markets and bring in a loyal customer base that will keep returning regularly. 

    Especially if you’ve gone into the waxing specialty, it’s important to make sure your wax types cater to the needs, skin, and hair types of your clients. When deciding which waxes to use at your salon, consider not only your clientele, but who else you’d like to bring into your business. 

    READ: How to Calculate ROI for Your Waxing Services

    For waxing services of all kinds, but especially full-body waxes, it’s important to have a highly dependable wax that will be highly effective and kind to your client’s skin. For these needs, look no further than Starpil Wax.

    First-time buyers can get 50% off professional waxing kits with code WAXINGKITS at checkout. 


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