What are the Different Types of Esthetician Programs?

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  • Written By: Jessica Hobby
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 12 November 2019
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An esthetician is a skin care specialist that works in the cosmetology field. An esthetician performs skin analysis and gives facials and other skin treatments such as body wraps, pore cleansing and exfoliation. Some estheticians also specialize in hair removal and aromatherapy. For people considering a career as an esthetician there are two different types of esthetician programs.

One of the types of esthetician programs is a degree program. Students in an esthetician degree program will learn about esthiology by studying theory and practicing treatments on live models. When a student is finished with the program, she will be prepared to take the licensing exam for whichever state she lives in. These types of programs are usually found at a local technical or community college and require additional coursework to obtain an Associate’s Degree.

The other type of esthetician program is a certificate program. Students in an esthetician certificate program will learn about esthiology by primarily concentrating on practice. Certificate programs take more of an on-the-job-training approach and do not offer an Associate’s Degree after a student completes the program. Similar to a degree program, a student who completes a certificate program will be prepared to take a state licensing exam. Certificate programs can be found at technical and community colleges, but will most often be found at private beauty academies or schools.


Regardless of which type of program you choose, both types of esthetician programs are available by studying cosmetology. A student will join a cosmetology program and have the opportunity to specialize in esthiology. This is sometimes a very popular option, because students exit their respective programs with a broader set of skills than if they were to only concentrate on esthiology.

It is important to know the benefits and drawbacks of the different types of esthetician programs before enrolling. Esthetician programs that offer an associate degree are great for students who may want to continue a formal education. Many estheticians choose to go into the medical field as paramedical estheticians or head into a specialized field such as dermatology. Esthetician programs that offer an Associate’s degree will many times be eligible for Federal Financial Aid to help fund their tuition.

Esthetician certificate programs are great for students who are positive that they don’t want to continue a formal education. However, many private certificate programs are very expensive and Federal Financial Aid is not usually offered at these schools and academies.


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Post 2

@JaneAir - That is strange there are no associates degree programs near you. I always think it's a good idea to get a degree instead of a certificate if you can. You never know when you might want to go back to school!

I also would feel more comfortable seeing an esthetician with some type of degree, I think. It seems like they would know more about the reasons they are doing what they're doing instead of just how to do it.

Post 1

Interesting. One of my friends is an esthetician, and she did a certificate program. Around this area, there actually aren't any associates degree esthetician programs.

I think it must be a regional thing though, because one of my cousins who lives in another state got an associates degree in this. And if I remember correctly, she was able to get financial aid. My friend who did a certificate was not.

However, they were both able to take the licensing exams in their state and now work as estheticians. My cousin is considering going for her bachelors degree though, while my friend has no plans to further her education.

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