What Is the Best Degree Path to Becoming a Skincare Specialist?

An image of a skincare specialist for our FAQ about the Best Degree Path to Becoming a Skincare Specialist

If you’re interested in skincare at a salon or a medical facility, a career as an esthetician could be perfect for you. Today’s students are increasingly making major decisions about their careers based primarily on what they find interesting – and when it is skincare that interests you, you also enjoy benefits like flexibility and rapid job growth. While an education is required, years in the classroom are not. As an aspiring skincare specialist, you won’t sit through hours of lectures earning a traditional college degree. The pathway to becoming a skincare specialist is more hands-on than some other programs.

A Career in Skin Care

Estheticians, or skincare specialists, improve the physical appearance of a client’s skin in environments that range from spas and salons to medical offices. Estheticians choose the right cleansers and moisturizers for a client’s skincare routines. Often, skincare specialists offer treatments like facials, massages, peels, scrubs, wax or laser hair removal, and masks to help clients achieve cleaner, more youthful skin. Skincare specialists consult with clients to better understand their needs and goals. They spend a lot of their time educating and advising clients on how to apply makeup and take care of their skin. Personalized skincare regimens must be developed for clients. A skincare specialist determines what face washes, lotions, and creams are necessary to meet a client’s skincare goals. In the event of serious skincare issues, an esthetician may refer a client to a dermatologist or other medical provider.

A less glamorous aspect of the job as a skincare specialist is disinfecting work stations and equipment. Keeping a clean and sterile work environment is important.

For those who own and operate their own skincare facilities, hiring, firing, and supervising employees are common tasks. Skincare specialists who own their own businesses must manage office affairs, which may include keeping business records, overseeing inventory supply, and arranging for advertising. Interviewing potential employees and managing human resource policies and procedures are also parts of the job. Some business owners opt to hire an office manager to oversee the routine tasks of the office.

A Cosmetology Education

As an aspiring skincare specialist or esthetician, you will need an education, but you do not need a traditional college degree like an associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree. Instead, you will need specialized training in the field of professional skin care from a skincare training school. Some skincare training programs will provide you with a few hundred hours of hands-on experience, while others expose you to 1,200 hours, or more, of professional practice. The average number of class hours completed by a skincare specialist is 600 hours. In order to receive a license, one must pass a practical and written examination. Entry-level skincare specialists, especially those that work with chemicals, typically receive additional training while on the job.

An image of a skincare specialist for our FAQ about the Best Degree Path to Becoming a Skincare Specialist

Choosing a Cosmetology School

How do you choose the right skincare training school for you? First, you want to become familiar with licensing requirements for your state. You can find information on state licensing processes from organizations like the Association of Skin Care Professionals (ASCP), Professional Beauty Association, the American Association of Cosmetology Schools, and the National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology. License requirements vary from state to state, but they typically include practical and written examinations, the BLS reported. Make sure the program you choose satisfies your state’s eligibility requirements, such as the minimum number of education hours.

Since many skincare training schools are privately owned, it’s difficult for prospective students to assess the quality of these programs. One way to be sure you’re selecting a quality program is to choose an accredited institution. The following organizations accredit skin-care and esthetic therapy programs, according to the ASCP:

  • Accrediting Council for Continuing Education & Training
  • Accrediting Commission for Career Schools and Colleges of Technology
  • Council on Occupational Education
  • Distance Education and Training Council
  • National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts & Sciences

Many states offer continued education programs that are designed to keep skincare specialists current in their knowledge of new products and techniques. Some states offer seminars that can be completed either in person or online. Post-licensing training is also available through the above associations, through manufacturers, or at trade shows.

Earnings Potential for Skincare Specialists

U.S. News & World Report included esthetician and skincare specialists on its lists of the best health care jobs, best jobs without a college degree, and the 100 best jobs. While these rankings don’t correspond to an exceptionally high salary, the job does offer flexibility. In fact, about 27% of estheticians work for themselves, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

According to BLS, the median hourly wage for skincare specialists is $17.55. However, the lowest 10% of earners in this occupation report an average wage of $10.99, while the highest 10% of skincare specialists earn more than $31.06 per hour.

BLS also reports four highest-paying industries for skincare specialists. According to BLS, the highest-paying industry for this occupation is offices of physicians. Skincare specialists working in physician offices earn a median hourly wage of $20.25. The second-highest-paying industry for skincare specialists and estheticians is personal care services. In personal care, skincare specialists see a median hourly wage of $17.22. Health and personal care stores rank third among highest-paying industries for this occupation. In health and personal care stores, skincare specialists earn $15.81 per hour, on average. The traveler accommodation industry is the fourth-highest-paying industry. Skincare specialists working in traveler accommodation should expect an hourly average wage of $15.21.

Geographic location also impacts earnings for skincare specialists. In fact, the most recent data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics published by BLS reports five top-paying states for this occupation. Colorado ranks as the top-paying state for skincare specialists. In Colorado, skincare specialists see an annual mean wage of $58,480. Washington is the second-highest-paying state for skincare specialists. In Washington, this occupation sees an annual mean wage of $56,940. Hawaii also ranks well on the list of high-paying states. In Hawaii, skincare specialists see an annual mean wage of $54,450. Also ranking among the top five high-paying states for this occupation are Connecticut and Oklahoma. In Connecticut, the annual mean wage for skincare specialists is $52,740. In Oklahoma, the mean wage is slightly lower at $52,510.

Certain metropolitan areas also offer favorable wages for skincare specialists, which are well above the national average. In fact, skincare specialists can earn over six figures in the metro area of Olympia and Tumwater, Washington. In this metro region, skincare specialists see an annual mean wage of $117,340. Other top-paying metro areas include Waterbury, Connecticut, reporting average skincare specialist wages of $83,930; Denver, Aurora, and Lakewood, Colorado ($69,790); and Killeen and Temple, Texas ($65,020).

But you don’t have to live in a metro area to earn a solid wage as a skincare specialist. In certain non-metro areas, according to BLS, skincare specialists earn well above the national average. According to BLS, skincare specialists in Northeastern Wisconsin see an annual mean wage of $60,830. Other top-paying non-metro areas for this occupation include Southwest Colorado ($42,960), Northwest Colorado ($41,370), balance of lower peninsula of Michigan ($38,050), and South-Central Wisconsin ($32,350).

An image of skincare specialist for our FAQ about the Best Degree Path to Becoming a Skincare Specialist

Job Outlook for Skincare Specialists

As the general public views self care as an important aspect of life, the skincare specialist occupation has begun to flourish. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports a 17% growth in employment for this occupation over the next eight years. This percentage is approximately four times the average employment growth for all occupations.

The projected increase in employment reflects the growing demand for services offered in salons, dermatology offices, and other healthcare facilities. The industry has seen an uptick in services like mini-sessions (partial facials), mobile facials (house calls), and other micro or mini services. Employment growth is spiking due to the number of people, both men and women, seeking ways to reduce the effects of aging. Also causing demand for this occupation are the number of individuals wanting to improve their appearance to look good on social media platforms.

The best job opportunities are for skilled skincare specialists working in spas and salons. In fact, BLS reports a growing number of beauty salons and spas hiring skincare specialists. Individuals with related work experience and essential training should see the best job prospects, though at this time, there are plentiful jobs for qualified skincare specialists. According to BLS, approximately 13,100 new skincare specialist jobs are projected by 2029.

Job Satisfaction of Skincare Specialists

Skincare specialists generally work full time, though many work nontraditional hours. It is not uncommon for a skincare specialist to work evenings and weekends. Also, working more than 40 hours a week is the norm. But when it comes to job satisfaction, skincare specialists enjoy the work they do. Long hours and weekend work don’t seem to bother these highly trained specialists.

According to U.S. News & World Report, skincare specialist jobs offer low stress levels, a good work-life balance, and solid job prospects. Skincare specialists get promoted regularly and earn a salary that makes them happy. U.S. News reports that estheticians have below-average stress levels, when compared to other occupations, and opportunities for advancement and pay raises. While the job can be tiring, as you’re on your feet most hours of the day and using your hands to massage and pamper a client’s skin, it can also be highly rewarding. Skincare specialists are in the business of helping people improve their appearance and feel better about themselves. With the role comes the benefit of seeing someone happy.

An image of a skincare specialist for our FAQ about the Best Degree Path to Becoming a Skincare Specialist

Qualities Needed for Skincare Specialists

Skincare specialists are a unique kind of provider. They not only meet regularly with clients, but provide both cosmetic and healthcare needs. Many operate their own businesses, provide customer service to both new and existing clients, and administer services and care. To do the job of a skincare specialist, one must draw on certain qualities that aren’t always taught in the classroom. Below are several qualities a skincare specialist needs to operate a successful business and work as a skilled provider.

Ability to take initiative – Since many skincare specialists own and operate businesses, having initiative helps. As a business owner, one must generate business, be proactive in acquiring clients, and come up with creative marketing plans.

Business acumen – To run their own salon or facilities, skincare specialists need to understand general business principles. It is important for a specialist to know all operations unique to their business, from administrative tasks to accounting procedures. To manage a business profitably and efficiently, strong business skills are a must for a skincare specialist.

Cleanliness and tidiness – Not only should a skincare specialist present themselves as a clean and tidy person, with a neat personal appearance, they should keep their work area sanitary. For the health and safety of clients, and to increase the likelihood of return business, the office, waiting room, and other parts of the salon must be kept clean.

Customer service skills – A friendly bedside manner goes a long way in healthcare. And in skincare, the quality is just as important. Repeat business is also important to the livelihood of a facility. Rude and inefficient behavior may result in a business that fails. Skincare specialists should be courteous, helpful, and friendly to clients to ensure they want to return.

Physical stamina – Since most of the day is spent standing, a skincare specialist must have good physical stamina to sustain long hours on the job. Strong arm and shoulder muscles help a specialist withstand the demands of the job, like massaging faces and bodies.

Time-management skills – When scheduling appointments and providing services, time-management skills help. Skincare specialists should be able to manage their time with clients effectively to ensure that all clients are seen, and cared for, in a timely manner.

BDP Staff
August 2021

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This concludes our article on the best degree path to becoming a skincare specialist.

Brenda Rufener
Author

Julie McCaulley
Expert

Carrie Sealey-Morris
Editor-in-Chief