Do I Need to Go to School to Become an Esthetician?

Esthetician waxing a woman's eyebrows

Feel like you were born to work in the beauty industry? Are you wondering how to take the first step to become a professional esthetician? As an esthetician, you can help others manage their skin health and inner beauty. Why skin? The body’s skin is our defense from the world, and it can take some punishment from the elements. By helping clients manage their skin, you can help them stay healthy on the outside as well as the inside. So, do you need to go to school to become an esthetician?

Do You Need to Go to School to Become an Esthetician?

As an esthetician, you must become licensed to help clients. And the prerequisite to an esthetician license is attending an esthetician program at a vocational school. However, that’s no reason to feel discouraged. In fact, fulfilling the educational requirements to become a professional esthetician is simply part of the journey of learning how to excel in this industry. The right program can help you with a wide variety of standards and techniques for offering in-demand services that will help you to keep a robust client list.

Becoming an Esthetician

First, it’s important to know why training and certification are so important in this career field. Estheticians perform a wide variety of treatments related to hair and skin. While an esthetician isn’t a doctor, you do perform some intensive skin treatments that require specialized knowledge. In fact, estheticians are sometimes referred to as “skin care therapists.” Here’s a look at some of the services estheticians can offer:

  • Facials
  • Superficial/gentle chemical peels
  • Body wraps
  • Skin mapping
  • Exfoliation
  • Facial scrubs
  • Waxing
  • Scar care
  • Skin consulting
  • Lash extensions

As the demand for esthetician services grows, estheticians are branching out into specialty areas that are quite lucrative. Many estheticians are pivoting to services like airbrush tanning to help clients enjoy healthy “sunless” tans. An esthetician working full-time can even offer tanning visits to clients at their homes. Once you’ve completed your initial certification, you have the freedom to obtain additional training and education. This puts you in the position to carve out a niche by offering whatever type of beauty service you find appealing. The fact that new beauty treatments and “technologies” are constantly introduced means there are always opportunities to become “the only person in town” to offer popular, in-demand treatments that people are hearing about from magazines, television, or the internet.

While some people assume that cosmetologists and estheticians are synonymous, the two specialties aren’t the same. While cosmetologists are more focused on “surface” treatments like haircuts and coloring, estheticians go deeper by treating the skin. However, many estheticians do provide makeup services as part of their aesthetic consulting services.

What Do You Learn in Esthetician School?

Future estheticians are trained in all the techniques used for skin treatments and hair removal that are offered in salon and spa settings. In addition, you will undergo training to become product specialists who can recommend products to help clients solve skin issues. Here’s a look at the wide range of topics covered in an Esthiology curriculum:

  • Dermatology fundamentals
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • The basics of skin diseases
  • Sanitation, cleanliness, and safety
  • State laws and regulations
  • Managing/disposing of hazardous waste
  • Infection control
  • Chemical management/disposal
  • Skin analysis
  • Product recommendations
  • Customer service
  • Sales

As an esthetician, you are not licensed to act as a dermatologist. However, you do spend time learning about skin diseases and disorders. In fact, many clients seek out the assistance of trained estheticians before consulting with dermatologists simply because they are looking for some inexpensive topical solutions. As an esthetician, you can often help by making product recommendations based on your one-on-one familiarity with various products combined with a background in understanding how product ingredients work together to create changes and reactions in the skin.

Again, as an esthetician, you are not representing yourself as a medical professional capable of curing or treating skin conditions. You are instead making product recommendations from a position of expertise. Some common skin issues that clients may have questions about include acne, rosacea, sunburn, hives, eczema, and psoriasis. Clients may also seek product recommendations for common skin problems like oiliness, dryness, and signs of aging. While you will be licensed to provide a wide range of services, it’s important for you to know that this career field can be limiting. More invasive procedures that can range from deep chemical peels to filler injections aren’t in an esthetician’s wheelhouse because they veer into the “medical territory.”

Where Do Estheticians Work?

In a world where everyone wants their skin to look ready for the lens, estheticians have never been in higher demand. One of the perks of this career choice is that there’s never any fear of being stuck in a “stuffy” environment where you’re managing the same tasks day after day. In fact, as an esthetician, you enjoy the unique freedom to choose the settings you want to work in. Here’s a look at some common places of employment for estheticians:

Dermatology Offices: Yes, dermatologists often employ medical estheticians at their offices to provide support for people looking for basic skin help or hair removal.

Spas: Estheticians employed by spas offer a wide range of beauty treatments for clients looking to be pampered.

Salons: Salons that offer hair-removal services employ estheticians to assist with brows and waxing.

Hotels, Resorts and Cruise Ships: Many brands that offer “resort experiences” keep their private in-house spas staffed with estheticians who can offer a wide range of skin and beauty treatments. Even business hotels often provide full-service spas to help busy travelers stay groomed and pampered on the go.

Private Appointments: Some estheticians make home and “on set” visits for their high-end clients.

While there was a time when being employed as an esthetician meant working for a salon or spa, things have changed. The popularity of skin and beauty tutorials means that you are empowered to build your own followings. In addition to helping you build up your client base, having a strong online presence can also help you to gain brand sponsorships.

What Does It Take to Become a Successful Esthetician?

Estheticians enjoy a unique profession that combines technical skill with creativity. Among beauty and wellness professionals, estheticians are required to know the most about science and chemicals. Treatments like waxing and facials take tremendous amounts of precision and detail.

In addition to mastering the technical aspects of this field, estheticians need strong “people” skills. As an esthetician, you are tasked with understanding the needs of clients. You must also know how to effectively communicate recommendations, explain procedures, and engage with clients during treatments.

Final Thoughts

If you’re ready to make the leap to having the career that you’ve always wanted, there’s never been a better time to enroll in a program to become an esthetician. The first step is taking some time to find a program that will put you in the position to qualify for state licensing. Look for schools that offer robust curriculums covering all the topics you need to know for licensing. Programs that are designed to equip you for successful careers combine “book learning” with hands-on lessons. If you are ready to help others and enjoy a rewarding career, becoming an esthetician may be the right career path for you.

Are you ready to go to school to become an esthetician? If so, you could begin your career as an esthetician at the Minnesota School of Cosmetology (MSC).  Our Esthiology Diploma Program has been developed by talented, caring, real-world professionals, many of whom still work in the field.  We give our Esthiology students experience in skincare, waxing, make-up, application of facials, and more.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming an esthetician and starting a rewarding career in the beauty industry.

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