How To Become An Esthetician

Home >> Blog >> Esthetician >> Facialist >> How To Become An Esthetician

Training to become a certified esthetician comes with many benefits to boost your career as a beauty professional, make a great income and help people be happy. An esthetician helps people feel better in their own skin. You’ll enjoy flexible hours and many potential career paths. Work for yourself and you can literally write your own paycheck. And you can do this all while continuing to perfect your skills, since every client you serve has different skin. As an artist, you’ll also enjoy great professional satisfaction by making clients feel better about themselves as you enhance their appearance.

becoming an esthetician

These are just some of the services you can provide:

  • Facials
  • Eyebrow and eyelash treatments
  • Extractions
  • Waxing
  • Body Wraps
  • Masks
  • Scrubs
  • Acne Treatments
  • Makeup Applications
  • Makeup consultation
  • Chemical Peels

To reach this level, you’ll need to get certified and licensed to practice in your state. It’s fun, fairly easy, not too expensive and much of the coursework can usually be done online for convenience.

In this article you’ll learn:

  • How much money you can make as an esthetician
  • The required training and certifications
  • Professional groups to join
  • Employment opportunities for estheticians
  • Finding clients
  • Plus helpful tips for new estheticians

How much money can you make?

The average esthetician salary in the United States is $35,112. That works out to about $17.56 per hour. Those on the high end of the pay range (the top 1 percent) are making more than $29 per hour. With tips and commissions on products you sell in the salon, you’ll make even more.

how much do estheticians make

You can check average salaries for your state with’s searchable web page.

Training and Certification

Many private schools and institutes offer esthetician training at varying price points. The best approach to selecting a program is to check with your state’s cosmetology board on local requirements for certification and licensing. Then you can choose a program that best fits your needs. An alphabetical list of state cosmetology boards and contact information is available here.

If you want the best, the National Coalition of Estheticians, Manufacturers/Distributors & Associations (NCEA) is the premiere organization for certifying professional estheticians in the United States. “NCEA Certified” represents the highest skin care credential currently available in the United States and adherence to the profession’s code of ethics.

The cost of training ranges from $664 if you pay in installments, to as low as $600 for paying upfront. You can complete the training at home with study materials delivered by the NCEA. For details on training, browse training program for specialties and look for certification programs.

From initial training to certification as an esthetician, expect to invest four to six months of full-time effort. If you choose to train part-time, you can earn certification within nine to 12 months.

National Coalition of Estheticians

There are 3 Steps:

  1. Order the training manual and start your candidate application requirements while working through the manual. Your candidate application should be ready to send in after four to six weeks.
  2. Authorization to test. Schedule and pay for your exam.
  3. Take the exam. You’ll need a computer, a smartphone and an Internet connection, which will allow you to take the test anywhere you wish.

You’ll also need CPR/AED/First Aid certification and be recertified during an in-person class every five years. Certification training is available through the Red Cross and the American Heart Association.

Here’s what you’ll learn in preparation for the national esthetician exam. The 90-minute exam covers scientific concepts and skin care and services, testing your knowledge in these areas:

  • Infection control procedures involving bacteria and viruses, controlling infection, including methods; and safety guidelines; knowing what to do when exposed to blood
  • Basic understanding of human physiology and anatomy
  • Skin histology and physiology, including the function of skin layers and glands, and hair follicle structure
  • Body hair composition, including hair structure and growth; hair growth abnormalities
  • Chemistry of cosmetic products, including ingredients, labeling and more.
  • How to perform a client consultation with appropriate documentation. That includes:
  • The analysis of the skin, including type and condition
  • Handling the records of clients, including intake and consult charts
  • Protocols involving treatment
  • Knowing when to withhold certain Skin services based on client evaluation
  • Cleansing procedures
  • Steaming procedures, including towel and steam
  • Exfoliation procedures, both chemical and physical
  • Hair extraction procedures
  • The effects of massage movements
  • Use of masks, including clay/mud and gel
  • Methods and procedures of hair removal, including waxing and tweezing
  • Makeup application principles, including face shapes and features analysis, plus color theory
  • How to use equipment during skin services (lamps, facial steamer/vaporizer and LED therapy.
  • Services related to body treatments and eyelash extensions

Professional Groups to Join

You’ll want to remain a member of NCEA both to maintain certification and have access to their continuing education materials and other valuable professional information.

There are three membership options:

$65 per year

$95 per year – this includes your business listing in the NCEA’s online directory

$160 for a three-year membership, in which you’ll save $35.

Esthetician professional groups


Professional estheticians can find a confusing array of employment options, each with different benefits and potential drawbacks. Let’s go through the most common employment types:

Independent Contractor with Booth Rental

These estheticians pay a salon or spa a rental fee for access to the salon or spa facilities. As independent contractors, booth renters buy their own supplies, set their own working hours and fees, and provide their own business insurance. You are completely in control of your earnings. With an established business and steady clients, independent contracting may be right for you.

Hourly Pay + Commission

Many salons and spas pay their full-time employees a low hourly wage plus commission, which is based on a percentage of how much business you produce. So if you delivered $500 worth of services to clients and receive a 20% commission on gross sales, you’d be paid $100 plus your pre-arranged hourly wage.

Team Member Compensation

With this employment arrangement, you receive a base salary plus commissions on your services and any products you sell to clients. If salesmanship is a skill you possess or would like to master, this compensation package might be right for you.

Straight Salary

You earn a yearly salary and probably receive benefits like health insurance and paid time off. Straight salary jobs are usually found in professional settings such as medical spas. You offer your services and are typically under no pressure to sell products while working with clients.

straight salary of esthetician

If you’re just starting out, it may not be financially practical to open your own studio at first. This means working for someone else. An up-to-date resume and a copy of your NCEA certification are essential parts of your application. Online job-search services such as and ZipRecruiter will yield openings.

Join esthetician discussion groups on social media (Facebook has several) so you can build your professional network. Set up your professional profile on LinkedIn to start connecting with other estheticians and groups whose members may know of upcoming job openings before they’re advertised.

If you’re thinking of opening a studio, search for cities where the competition is not as great. Consider locating in resort areas where people on vacation want to be pampered. You might get so much seasonal business that you’ll be able to afford lengthy vacations of your own in the off season.

Finding Clients

When running your own business, an attractive website is essential. If you’re not comfortable designing a website yourself using templates and artwork from popular sites like WordPress, hire someone to build a basic website for you. Just get an online presence going and keep it up-to-date with photos, special offers on skin-care products to drive traffic to your door, discounts for new customers, maybe even a price break for existing clients who refer new business.

Build Your Credibility With Online Reviews. According to a survey, 90% of participants are influenced by positive online reviews.

Have all new customers fill out a basic form about their interest in your services and be sure they include their contact information. Your web site can be set up to require contact information before the form can be submitted. You want contact information so you can follow-up with all your clients. This encourages repeat business.

Good to know:

  • Tips are appropriate and encouraged in beauty salons and spas. A 20 percent gratuity is considered the minimum for good service.
  • Communication is vital. To succeed, you’ll need a loyal customer base.
  • Create a relaxing environment. Clients should look forward to their visits.
  • Always dress professionally and be well-groomed (your skills will be judged initially by your own appearance)
  • Deliver every service “by the book” following all best practices.
  • Focus on specialties for everyone working at your spa. Staff then work better and faster.
  • Know how to sell products and upsell services.
  • Stay on top of your profession with continuing education.

If you enjoyed this article, check out some other content that can help you grow your career as an esthetician. Here’s a great place to start.

PocketSuite has thousands of business owners who all started where you are right now. Our community is always happy to help you ramp up, grow your client base, and achieve your income goals, both within the PocketSuite app and as part of our exclusive Facebook Community Group. PocketSuite’s vision is for any professional to be able to work for themselves and make a great living. It starts here. It starts with you. It starts today. Let’s get started, download PocketSuite now! Feel free to reach out with any questions (we’d love to hear from you)! Text us @ (415) 841-2300.