Medical Esthetician Careers: Job Description & Salary Information

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What are the pros and cons of a medical esthetician career? Get real job descriptions and salary info to see if becoming a medical esthetician is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Career as a Medical Esthetician

A medical esthetician helps individuals feel better about themselves by teaching them how to take care of their skin and apply makeup after burns, cancer or traumatic injuries. Keep reading to find out the pros and cons so you can make a proper decision concerning your career.

Pros of a Medical Esthetician Career
Potential for above-average yearly salary (the highest paid 10% of workers earned $51,000 or more)***
Satisfaction of helping patients feel and look better after an illness or traumatic injury*
Teaching opportunities (teach patients how to apply makeup)*
Various work environments (doctor's office, hospital or medical facility)*

Cons of a Medical Esthetician Career
Some of the patients you help may die due to cancer, injury, etc.*
The job may involve dealing with bodily fluids, such as blood*
You may have to acquire malpractice insurance**
Licensing requirements vary by state*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor of Statistics, ** job ad, ***

Career Information

Job Description

A medical esthetician or paramedical esthetician (sometimes spelled aesthetician) is a certified esthetician with additional special training. A medical esthetician may work in a dermatologist's or plastic surgeon's office assisting the doctor as well as in a hospital or clinic. Your job duties may include performing skin care procedures and applying patients' makeup, along with business and administration duties. Medical procedures may include assisting with pre- and post-operative care of the skin, sterilizing equipment and work areas and performing advanced peels, such as lactic acid and Jessner.

Other procedures include masking techniques, sugaring, dermaplaning, ultrasound blading, lymphatic drainage massages and ultrasound facial techniques. You work with male and female patients as well as children. Patients may be undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatments or may have sustained burns through an accident.

Salary Info

As of July 2015, according to, most medical estheticians made between $23,000 and $51,000 (with tips, overtime, bonuses and commission factored in). The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that as of May 2014, skincare specialists who worked for medical and surgical hospitals made an average of $22.89 per hour, while workers in physicians' offices earned $19.76 per hour on average.

What Are the Requirements?

Education Requirements

Medical estheticians start their training by enrolling in a course or associate's degree program to become an esthetician. Estheticians must be licensed, and additional requirements vary by state. The number of practical hours necessary ranges from 250-1,500 hours. Most states require 600 hours of practical training. The school you go to should be regulated by the Board of Cosmetology for the state.

Basic Esthetician

A basic course to become an esthetician includes practical training in facial treatments, skin analysis techniques, manicures, pedicures, waxing, massage and speciality masks. You learn about acne treatments, makeup, chemical peels, skin exfoliation and first aid. You also take classes in professionalism, sanitation, chemistry, electricity basics, facial theory, hair removal, makeup theory and antioxidants.

Medical Esthetician

A medical esthetics course for professional (licensed) estheticians covers skin diseases and disorders, client consultation, microdermabrasion, chemical peels, cosmetic ingredients, medical procedures, medications, pre- and post-operative care and exfoliation. Other areas covered may include pharmacology, office procedures and camouflage makeup.

Additionally, you'll learn about the machinery used in medical esthetics as well as take classes in laser theory, cosmetic chemistry and clinical lab. No state offers separate licensure specifically for medical estheticians, although Utah and Virginia have 2-tier licensure - basic and masters. A medical esthetician needs to be open and have good communication and empathy skills, along with knowing how to take constructive criticism.

Job Postings from Real Employers

In order to work as a medical esthetician, you must have an esthetician license. Other than a license, requirements depend on the employer and vary greatly. The following three job ads for medical estheticians were found online as of April 2012:

  • A dental care practice in Bronx, NY, advertised for a medical esthetician with a New York esthetician license and experience in chemical peels and IPL (intense pulsed light) treatments.
  • A spa in Seattle, WA, sought a medical aesthetician to perform medical-grade facials, waxing, tinting and chemical peels. Candidate must have a high school diploma, an aesthetician license and malpractice insurance.
  • A medical practice in Decatur, IL, was looking for a medical aesthetician and laser tech. Candidate must have an esthetics license and good marketing skills. Employer will train.

How to Stand out in the Field

Become Laser Certified

Earn certification as an aesthetic laser operator. Eligibility requirements include a certain number of formal training hours and experience. Applicants must then pass a test. To perform laser procedures, you must follow the regulations as mandated by the state in which you live, which vary considerably. For instance, in California, non-physicians cannot perform laser procedures. Some states will allow a certified esthetician to use a laser under the supervision of a doctor. Other states don't regulate laser use. Florida and Texas require that you earn certification before being granted a license.

Other Careers to Consider

Massage Therapist

If dealing with individuals with various diseases makes you uncomfortable, then perhaps you might consider becoming a massage therapist. Massage therapists help clients relax by manipulating muscles through massage techniques. They help patients learn to relax, relieve stress and help with injury rehabilitation. Aspiring massage therapists need to complete 500 hours of training (both classroom work and clinical), and they must obtain a license.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that massage therapists made a median salary of about $36,000 as of May 2011. The job outlook was encouraging as well with the BLS having predicted employment to increase 20% over the 2010-2020 decade.

Medical Assistant

Perhaps you'd like working with patients, but aren't interested in applying makeup. If this is the case, consider becoming a medical assistant. Medical assistants help physicians by taking patient histories, giving injections, measuring vital signs and taking blood for lab tests. You can become a medical assistant with only a high school diploma and on-the-job training. One-year formal education programs are offered at community and technical colleges. You also need to obtain a license.

Medical assistants made a median salary of about $29,000 in 2011, according to the BLS. Jobs for medical assistants were predicted to increase 31% from 2010-2020. You may find a position assisting a dermatologist or plastic surgeon and perform procedures similar to a medical esthetician.

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