Skin Care Specialist Careers: Job Description & Salary Information

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Learn about a skin care specialist's job description, salary and training requirements. Get straight talk about the pros and cons of a skin care specialist career.
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Pros and Cons of a Skin Care Specialist Career

If you're interested in beauty and skin care, consider a career as a skin care specialist. Learn more about the pros and cons of this career to decide if it is right for you.

Pros of Becoming a Skin Care Specialist
Minimal educational requirements (such as completion of a certificate or diploma program)*
Much faster-than-average job growth (40% growth predicted from 2012-2022)*
Can work in a variety of settings (salons, spas, clinics, customers' homes, etc.)*
Many skincare specialists are self-employed (37% in 2010)*

Cons of Becoming a Skin Care Specialist
Relatively low median earnings ($13.97 per hour as of 2014)*
Could be required to work nights and weekends*
Long periods of time spent standing*
Regular contact with chemicals requires safety precautions*

Source: *The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career Information

Job Description

Skin care specialists, also known as estheticians or aestheticians, are licensed professionals who provide skin care services, head and neck massages, hair removal, makeup application and other treatments. They typically work in spas and beauty salons, but they may also work in doctors' offices, clinics or clients' homes. Skin care specialists work with a variety of skin care products, tools and equipment to enhance the skin's appearance. As a skin care specialist, you analyze clients' skin types and provide customized treatments according to their needs and beauty goals. Additionally, you may recommend or sell skin care products, which typically requires product knowledge, communication skills and sales ability.

Salary Information and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), skin care specialists earned a median salary of approximately $29,000 as of May 2014, and the top 10% earned more than $58,000 annually. However, the lowest 10% earned less than $18,000 per year. Employment was predicted to grow 40% from 2012-2022. The BLS attributes much of this faster-than-average job growth to increasing demand from both men and women for appearance-enhancing treatments.

Education and Licensure Requirements

To become a skin care specialist, you're required to complete a state-approved cosmetology or esthetics program, according to the BLS. Most programs take less than one year to complete, and they usually consist of a minimum number of clinical hours and classroom training. After completing a state-approved cosmetology program, every state, except Connecticut, requires that you take and pass a licensing exam. The exam typically consists of both written and practical portions. In addition to formal training, some employers require on-the-job training for specific products, equipment and techniques.

What Employers Are Looking for

The main requirement for skin care specialists is possessing state licensure. Most employers also look for individuals who have experience offering skin care treatments, such as facials, masks, waxing and body wraps. Here are a few real job postings found in April 2012:

  • A military beauty salon in Hawaii advertised for a licensed esthetician to provide skin care services. Pay is commission only, and applicants must have one year of general experience and one year of specialized experience with facials, waxing, aromatherapy and body wraps.
  • An Iowa-based skin institute sought a licensed esthetician with at least one year of experience to work full time, including evening and weekend hours. The candidate should possess customer service and sales abilities, as well as be able to work at two separate offices and travel occasionally for training and orientation.
  • A corporate fitness center in Illinois placed an ad for a licensed esthetician to provide skin care services, including makeup application, masks, waxing and cleansing. One year of experience, thorough knowledge of skin treatments and strong customer service skills were requested.

How to Stand Out

You can get an edge on the competition by joining a professional organization, such as the Aesthetics International Association (AIA). The AIA offers continuing education and training seminars during International Congress of Esthetics and Spa events, as well as access to networking opportunities, product discounts and business resources. Membership with a professional organization is one way to stay updated about the newest products and methods in the skin care field.

Another way to stand out is to pursue certification through the National Coalition of Estheticians, Manufacturers/Distributors & Associations (NCEA). To obtain NCEA certification, you have to pass a certification exam, which may require taking preparatory classes. According to the organization, obtaining certification demonstrates that you're actively trying to raise skin care industry standards and that you're a knowledgeable industry leader. It may also increase your employment prospects and earning potential.

Other Careers to Consider


Individuals interested in performing a wide variety of services within the beauty industry might consider becoming cosmetologists. As a cosmetologist, you can provide a wide variety of beauty services, such as hair cutting, styling and coloring, wig and hairpiece styling, hair extensions, makeup and scalp treatments. All states require that cosmetologists complete state-approved cosmetology programs and pass licensing exams. However, the BLS reported that cosmetologists, including hairstylists and hairdressers, earned a median hourly wage of approximately $11 as of May 2011, which is less than that of skin care specialists. The number of employed cosmetologists, hairstylists and hairdressers was expected to increase 16% between 2010 and 2020.

Nail Technician

If you don't want to spend long days standing on your feet, consider becoming a nail technician. These professionals are responsible for performing manicures, pedicures and nail treatments. Similar to skin care specialists and cosmetologists, nail technicians are required to finish state-approved cosmetology programs and pass state licensing exams. The BLS predicted that the number of jobs for nail technicians would grow 17% from 2010-2020. The median hourly wage for these workers was around $9 as of May 2011.

Popular Schools

  • Campus Locations:
    1. Fortis College

    Program Options

      • Esthetics Skincare
      • Esthetics Skincare
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Penn Foster High School

    Program Options

    High School Diploma
      • HS Diploma
      • HS Diploma
  • Winter Garden, FL

    Westside Tech

  • Jackson, TN

    West Tennessee Business College

  • Waco, GA

    West Georgia Technical College

  • Valdosta, GA

    Wiregrass Georgia Technical College

  • Danville, CA

    W Academy of Salon and Spa

  • Kennewick, WA

    Victoria's Academy of Cosmetology

  • Greenfield, WI

    VICI Aveda Institute

  • Springfield, IL

    University of Spa & Cosmetology Arts

Featured Schools

Fortis College

  • Esthetics Skincare

What is your highest level of education completed?

Penn Foster High School

  • HS Diploma

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Westside Tech

West Tennessee Business College

West Georgia Technical College

Wiregrass Georgia Technical College

W Academy of Salon and Spa

Victoria's Academy of Cosmetology