If you're considering a career in esthetics, it's probably because you love the beauty industry and want to spend your days making your customers feel pretty. Luckily for you, the skin care industry is experiencing growth, making available positions plentiful in a wider arena than ever before.

What Is Esthetics?

Esthetics, sometimes spelled aesthetics, is a sub-discipline of cosmetology that is focused on skin care. This includes everything from performing spa treatments and applying makeup to helping out with medical skin treatments at a medical spa or dermatology office.

Training in Esthetics

Most skin care specialists start out by attending beauty or cosmetology school to obtain the education and hands-on experience required before sitting for a state licensing exam. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most state-licensed programs last nine months, and some programs may even lead to an associates degree. Because cosmetology school covers more beauty treatments than skin care alone, you may be able to find a program that focuses only on skin care and requires significantly less time to complete.

After you've completed both your coursework and hands-on requirements, you'll have to sit for state licenses or certifications that allow you to obtain employment. Every state's requirements are different, but you can access your state's specific information at the Beauty Schools Directory, where you can also find quality schools and training programs in your area.

Estheticians possess skilled hands, a passion for building up people's self esteem and a genuine concern about helping others. According to 2011 data from the BLS, skin care specialists average $13.18 an hour, including tips, but depending on where you work you could earn considerably more. Individuals who pursue medical-related skin care careers usually command a higher hourly wage.

Working in Esthetics

There are a number of options when it comes to choosing a career in esthetics. Consider the following choices:

Salons and Spas

Most estheticians work in salons and spas performing facials, mud baths, seaweed wraps and waxing services, just to name a few services. Many estheticians work as contract employees, which provides some freedom and flexibility when it comes to work hours and client load; however, most salons and spas will require that you be available certain days or times in order to service walk-ins. As a contractor, your success is largely based on customer loyalty, and you may find that you need to "sell yourself" in order to remain financially stable.

Makeup Artistry

If cosmetic application is more your cup of tea, you may want to bill yourself as a makeup artist. While there may be some demand for this skill at salons and spas, you're more likely to find success in film, theater and television. These positions can be hard to come by, so you might want to start by marketing yourself as an independent makeup artist to teens during prom season, brides during wedding season and so forth. As you grow your business and receive referrals, you just might be able to land your dream job at a television or film studio.

Medical Esthetics

There are a growing number of positions available in medical esthetics. This is partly due to an aging population that is willing to spend more time and money on "vanity" skin treatments than ever before and partly due to the growing understanding of the link between self-esteem and health. Frankly, when a person thinks they look their best, they're more likely to feel positive about themselves which can help them during medical treatments and scary diagnoses. Just a few of the roles of medical estheticians include:

  • Assisting dermatologists during microdermabrasion and other skin resurfacing treatments
  • Performing cosmetic procedures like waxing and facials at a medical day spa
  • Teaching burn victims to apply makeup to cover their wounds
  • Teaching cancer patients to take care of their skin and to draw on eyebrows after losing their facial hair during chemotherapy
  • Performing post-operative skin treatments for plastic surgeons

Finding Positions

To find positions, you need to know what area of esthetics you're most interested in pursuing. For instance, if you're interested in salon and spa work, consider calling around your local area to see if any nearby salons or spas have an opening for an esthetician. You can also look online for job postings on sites like:

  • SkinScience: The SkinScience Institiute of Laser and Esthetics offers a job board that allows you to search for jobs by state.
  • Search this large database for esthetician positions and get email updates on new openings. Narrow results according to salary, company, location, and more.
  • SimplyHired: View job listings by date, location, level of experience, and a variety of other filters to find just the right position.
  • Salon Employment: View a variety of beauty-industry career listings, including positions for makeup artists and estheticians.
  • GetEstheticianJobs: This focused site lists only esthetician careers. You can also browse articles and blogs related to this career.

Pursuing the Field

You may not know exactly what type of skin care career you're most interested in, but that's where school and training can help. Once you get started in your program and discover what types of treatments you enjoy performing most, you'll be able to narrow down your career plans. You can also see if there are opportunities to intern at salons, spas and medical centers to get a better feel for the day-to-day experience of each type of position.

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