Esthetician jobs, as part of the skincare specialist profession, number over 31,000 nationally, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (See Reference 1). Becoming an esthetician requires completing a post-secondary schooling program that meets your individual state's licensing standards. Depending on where you live and what your practice preferences are, you'll find that an array of beauty schools and vocational colleges offer programs that can start you on your road to working in the skincare profession.
Each state licenses estheticians using its own criteria and standards for educational program approval. If you're considering a college that provides you with a cosmetology degree in skincare, making sure that your state's licensing board approves it is key. For example, the New York Department of State's Division of Licensing Services requires all potential estheticians to complete an approved course of study with at least 600 hours of course time (See Reference 2). You can contact your state licensing board to verify that the school of your choice has an approved program.
Approval versus Accreditation
If your state approves an esthetician college, then it is likely that the school is also accredited. That said, it is equally as important, when it comes to a quality curriculum and program standards, that you choose a school that has a valid accreditation from a trusted accrediting agency. The U.S. Department of Education doesn't accredit schools, but it does recognize accrediting agencies as acceptable judges of quality. For example, the National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences accredits beauty schools and esthetician programs across the U.S. (See Reference 3). There are also regional or state accrediting bodies, such as the Pennsylvania State Board for Vocational Technical Education's Bureau of Career and Technical Education, that accredit vocational programs like esthetician schools (See Reference 4).
Gaining practical experience by working on clients directly is a key part of an esthetician degree. Most cosmetology colleges require esthetician students to complete a set amount of hours in practical or internship experience. For example, the Atlanta Institute of Aesthetics' Esthetics Program curriculum includes 288 clock-hours of clinical classes (See Reference 5). These types of classes provide students with the opportunity to practice what they are learning in classroom-based courses prior to working on clients in a real work environment.
Although getting practical experience is an essential part of every esthetician college course load, you'll also need to attend in-class lectures. These may vary, depending on the school's curriculum and your state's educational requirements. The topics that you'll most likely tackle include anatomy and physiology, skin physiology, hair removal techniques, introduction to chemistry, infection control, skin care and ethics (See Reference 5). Additionally, you may take specialty courses in aromatherapy, tinting or advanced skin care and treatments.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics: Skincare Specialists
- New York State Department of State, Division of Licensing Services: FAQ - Esthetics
- National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences: What is NACCAS?
- Atlanta Institute of Aesthetics: Esthetics Program Course Descriptions
Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.