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3.9 percent

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Skin care specialists cleanse and beautify the face and body to enhance a person’s overall appearance. Typically, people who engage in this type of work care deeply about helping people, as the pay isn’t especially good compared to other health care occupations. If you become a skin care specialist, you’ll work closely with clients to evaluate their skin condition and appearance, discuss possible treatments to improve skin quality and remove unwanted hair using wax, laser or other treatment methods. You’ll clean their skin before applying makeup and help them understand which products – including cleaners, lotions and creams – are best suited for them. Advising clients on how to apply makeup and care for their skin is another important responsibility, which might include helping clients outline a treatment plan. Since the job includes frequent touching and constant interaction, you have to enjoy working with people on a personal basis. To remove dead or dry skin, some skin care specialists may provide a variety of treatments, such as peels, masks or scrubs. Facial, full-body treatments and head and neck massages are part of the job as well. In some cases, you may have to refer clients to a dermatologist for serious skin problems. A less glamorous part of the job is disinfecting equipment and cleaning work areas.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, skin care specialists, or estheticians as they’re frequently called, typically work in salons, health and beauty spas, on cruise ships, and in medical offices. Some work with plastic surgeons and offer post-surgical care to patients and burn victims. Most work full time, but many work evenings and weekends on a part-time basis. Approximately, 27 percent of skin care specialists were self-employed.

The field is booming. The BLS projects employment growth of almost 40 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. This growth is driven primarily by the desire of women, and a growing number of men, to reduce the appearance of aging. According to the BLS, there were 44,400 esthetician jobs in 2012, of which about half were in the personal care services industry.


According to the BLS, skin care specialists made a median salary of $28,640 in 2012. The highest-paid 10 percent in the profession earned $51,900, while the lowest-paid earned $17,460 that year. The top-paying industries for this type of work are outpatient care centers, with an annual average salary of $42,680, and general medical and surgical hospitals, with an annual average wage of $40,500. Physicians’ offices also compensate skin care specialists well, providing an annual average salary of $39,420. The highest-paid positions in the field reside in the metropolitan areas of Bridgeport, Conn., Jefferson City, Mo., and Albuquerque, N.M.

Salary Range

75th Percentile $38,550
Median $28,640
25th Percentile $19,770


Skin care specialists are required to complete a cosmetology or aesthetician program, and all states except Connecticut require estheticians to obtain a license. Educational requirements vary, with 250 hours to 1,500 hours of classes depending on the state. If a skin care specialist who is licensed in one state wishes to work in another one that requires more hours, he or she will need the additional training to work and be licensed in that state. Some entry-level estheticians will receive further training on the job, especially if they work with chemicals. With new products constantly entering the market and medical advancements, the Professional Beauty Association and American Association of Cosmetology Schools offer continuing education, through seminars and webinars, so specialists can stay up to date on the latest skin care treatments and developments in the field.

Reviews & Advice

Some high schools offer vocational training in cosmetology. But many skin care specialists enroll in a state-approved cosmetology or aesthetician program where they’ll learn the best practices for providing services from waxing to facials. Every state has different requirements for the necessary hours of schooling, and the Associated Skin Care Professionals offers a Skin Care State Regulation Guide you can use to find the required hours for your state. After completing a program, hopeful skin care specialists must take a written and practical exam to obtain a license. When on the job hunt, look to professional organizations, like the Professional Beauty Association, that often post job openings on websites.

Job Satisfaction

Upward Mobility fair Average
Stress Level fair Average
Flexibility good Above Average
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Last updated by Harriet Edleson.

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