How do I Become an Aesthetician?

Hillary Flynn
Hillary Flynn

Aestheticians are licensed beauty professionals who focus on skincare, makeup, and hair removal. To become an aesthetician, first one must decide which direction to follow. Some aestheticians work strictly on the cosmetology side, along with hairstylists, manicurists and other personnel who attend cosmetology school. These aestheticians work in salons and spas. Another option for anyone who wants to become an aesthetician is to explore the medical side of the profession and work in doctor's offices, hospitals, and surgery centers.

Aestheticians are trained on special skin care products and techniques, and work in a variety of settings.
Aestheticians are trained on special skin care products and techniques, and work in a variety of settings.

For those interested in the cosmetology route, the first step is to determine the state regulations and requirements. Each state determines their own licensing requirements, so it is best to attend a school in the state one intends to work. States require an average of 300 hours of training to become an aesthetician licensed to do routine procedures at a salon or spa. Once initial training is completed, candidates must then sit for a state licensing exam.

Some aestheticians are skilled in hair removal methods like eyebrow threading.
Some aestheticians are skilled in hair removal methods like eyebrow threading.

Medical aestheticians are required to obtain advanced training. These aestheticians work for dermatologists, plastic surgeons, and hospitals who require additional certifications in various advanced training programs. Medical aestheticians take courses in anatomy, physiology, chemistry, bacteriology, disinfection, first aid, and hygiene. When training is completed, a paramedical aesthetician license exam must be passed as well.

When selecting a school, it is helpful to call salons and spas and inquire about the schools the owners prefer to hire their aestheticians from. Most schools will, at minimum, cover the topics required to obtain the state license, but each school will have its own philosophy and specializations. Some may focus on European beauty practices, some on standard facials, and some will have specialized classes that introduce new techniques. It is best to visit a school and speak with instructors as well as students to determine the best fit.

Some areas of specialization to consider are laser hair removal, hair removal by wax, skin analysis, deep cleansing treatments, masks and peels, and facial massage. Anyone wanting to become an aesthetician should explore the different areas early, before committing to a training program. It's always a good idea to try out procedures at different spas to get a feel for the different treatments.

School accreditation is something to consider as well. Schools with specific accreditation can offer financial aid to students who want to come an aesthetician. The biggest accrediting agency in the field of aesthetics is the National Accrediting Commission for Cosmetology Arts & Sciences (NACCAS).

Hillary Flynn
Hillary Flynn

Joining the wiseGEEK team has helped to satisfy Hillary’s insatiable curiosity for knowledge. She also manages an electronic publishing business that allows her to develop her skills in technical writing, graphic design, and business development. Hillary has a passion for satirical writing and enjoys traveling, especially to places of historical importance.

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Discussion Comments


I have been looking for this information for a long time because I want to know about aesthetician training. Thanks for sharing the information.


@SZapper - I also have a few friends who work in this field. My friends also really enjoy it. However, one thing to keep in mind if you're considering this type of career is that you have to really be a "people person".

Aestheticians deal with people day in and day out. They're also very up close and personal with people doing hair and other procedures. My friends also tell me people almost treat hair stylists like bartenders, telling them all their problems and gossip!

So in addition to all the technical skills I think an aesthetician really needs to have great people skills too.


@JaneAir - I think some of the procedures vary by state but where I live it's definitely a process to become a licensed cosmetologist.

A friend of mine recently got licensed as just a cosmetologist, not a medical aesthetician. She had to first take classes that were accredited by the state and then take some really serious tests given by the state board. She loves her job though and said it was well worth it to go through the hassle.


I'm glad to hear there are stringent requirements for becoming a medical esthetician. I remember reading some newspaper articles awhile back about treatments at a "medical" spa going horribly wrong.

If someone is going to be performing a medical procedure they definitely need to have some type of training. The body is complicated and in the case of an untrained person it's often a case of "you don't know what you don't know". A lot of times "simple" procedures that don't look complicated can have horrible consequences if performed wrong.

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