Becoming a licensed esthetician means that you’ve made a career choice with nearly endless working environment opportunities.
There are numerous esthetician career options waiting for you in both traditional and nontraditional career pathways. You should feel great about your career choice, whether you’re still completing hours or you’re already a licensed practitioner.
Your esthetician career might take a traditional path in one of these categories:
- Day Spas
- Day Spa Manager
- Room Rental
- Open your Own Business
- Waxing Technician
As an esthetician in a traditional spa setting you can expect to perform duties such as client consultations and basic skin analysis, facials, eyebrow shaping and tinting, facial massage, recommending products for home use, and more. Most spa businesses expect their estheticians to meet daily or monthly sales goals for products and services. In smaller facilities, you may also be asked to perform some receptionist duties, as needed.
Compensation for an esthetician in a spa setting is typically commission based. You can expect to earn 30-50% commission on services and 5-15% commission on product sales. Therefore, your income can be as high as you want it to be. Perform more services and sell more products and your income increases. The downside is salary fluctuation – an empty appointment book means no money.
An entirely commission-based income can be a scary thought for some estheticians. Some spa businesses will offer an hourly base wage and commission as an added bonus. This may make more sense for those just entering the industry and will allow time for building a repeat clientele.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2015 median pay for skincare specialists (estheticians) was $30,090/year or $14.47/hour*. As you build a repeat clientele and hone your sales skills, your income will increase and you can potentially make $50,000-$100,000 or more depending on your position and location. Gratuity is also a common salary booster for estheticians in spa settings.
Mobile & Medical Esthetics
Each of the options above are what most people think about when they think of esthetician career options. While there is certainly nothing wrong with working at a day spa or as a waxing technician, some estheticians choose other avenues.
If you don’t think that one of these traditional settings is right for you, then consider applying for a position in one of the following categories:
- Medical Spa
- Dermatology Clinic
- International Hotel Spa
- Plastic Surgery Office
- Mobile Spa Companies
- Hospital Cancer Treatment Centers
- Makeup Artistry
Each of these places allows you to use your training to help people, but the range of services offered and clientele are different from the casual spa-goer who wants a quick lunchtime facial. These non-traditional options can include a focus in medical esthetician treatments or they include traveling both locally or internationally.
Working as a mobile spa technician or makeup artist can be an exciting career option for an esthetician. You’ll find yourself performing facials, peels, or makeup application at client’s homes, businesses, and maybe even at photo or video shoots. Need a change in scenery? The mobile spa business is taking off and makeup artists are more popular than ever – both are great income builders for estheticians.
Estheticians employed in a medical setting such as a dermatology clinic or plastic surgeon’s office are sometimes referred to as aestheticians or medical aestheticians. With either name, the job duties will be the same. Expect to perform comprehensive skin analysis and consultations with magnifying lamps and sometimes more advanced equipment.
In addition to a more thorough skin analysis, medical estheticians will be responsible for performing results-oriented treatments like advanced facials, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, laser hair removal, and laser skin rejuvenation.
Estheticians can also assist physicians with preparing client’s’ skin before injection or surgical procedures. Client education and homecare regimen recommendations will also be a key duty.
According to PayScale.com, the national average salary for medical estheticians is $37,000 per year or $16.01 per hour**. A majority of medical esthetics professionals will be paid hourly or an annual salary. Commission is much less common in this setting but may be available as bonus for service or product sales. Gratuity is uncommon as clients see this is a medical facility where gratuity is not expected.
The average yearly salary for makeup artists in the theatrical and performance sector is $66,560, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics***. Department store makeup artists should expect to make $30-65,000 depending on location and experience. Talented makeup artists in larger cities may earn upwards of $100,000.
Esthetics Sales & Education
Depending on your personal interests and esthetics training, your esthetician career might just forego actual treatments for some of the more behind-the-scenes or office-based jobs. Have you considered working in one of the following sectors?:
- Product Sales
- Development and Manufacturing
- Cosmetics Buyer
- Education/ Teaching
- State Board Licensing Examiner
- Blogging/ Writing
- Equipment Distributor/Educator
With any of the esthetician career options listed above, you can work to teach, change, or improve skin treatments or training as people know it.
Cosmetics and skincare sales representatives are expected to develop new clients and nurture current business relationships. Reps generally offer marketing advice, staff training, promotional event planning, and of course they need to sell product. Possessing an esthetician license while working as a cosmetics or skincare sales representative can be a huge advantage vs. those without a license.
Esthetics instructors may work at a beauty school, training the industry’s next crop of professionals or provide brand specific training while working with an equipment or product manufacturer. In either atmosphere, instructors need to be able to adapt to various learning styles, completely understand their topic of instruction, and be able to deliver a comprehensive curriculum.
Regional and national sales representatives for cosmetics and skincare companies routinely make $50-100K+/year with bonuses generally available for sales growth.
The typical salary range for esthetics instructors is $30K-50K+ depending on experience and location.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of skincare specialists is projected to grow 12 percent from 2014 to 2024*, faster than the average for all occupations. The desire among many women and a growing number of men to reduce the effects of aging will result in employment growth. Estheticians are creating new paths within the industry, enhancing their skillsets, and branching out beyond the standard facial.
Finding your niche will help you to feel both personally and professionally satisfied. Don’t ever feel that your esthetician license is inflexible. One of the greatest things about your career choice is the huge amount of career and location options available to you.
If you’re searching for a job, get creative, and think about your personal interests while sending out applications. Continuing education classes can also expose you to new areas of the industry. You might just find yourself loving a job that’s not what you expected!
* Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Skincare Specialists, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/personal-care-and-service/skincare-specialists.htm (visited October 27, 2016).
** PayScale.com at http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Medical_Esthetician/Hourly_Rate (visited October 29, 2016)
*** Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,Makeup Artists, Theatrical and Performance, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes395091.htm (visited October 30, 2016).
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