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Medical Aesthetician Career Overview - How to Become an Aesthetician

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Anesthetist adjusting intravenous drip
Thierry Dosogne/Stone/Getty Images

What is a Medical Aesthetician? Brief Overview:

A medical aesthetician specializes in skincare, particularly facial skincare. Therefore they are often closely associated with the field of dermatology. Aestheticians provide a variety of services, procedures, products, and consultations to help improve and maintain the appearance and health of the client's or patient's skin.

Aestheticians are sometimes confused for cosmetologists. While there is some overlap, cosmetologists are usually not employed in a medical setting and therefore they do not do any procedures. Cosmetologists are usually more involved with application of make-up (cosmetics) and are not as involved in the actual ongoing healthcare and medical treatment of the skin as medical aestheticians typically are.

Where Do Aestheticians Work? Employment Settings:

A medical aesthetician may be employed by a hospital, medical practice, or any healthcare facility. Additionally, aestheticians may also work in salons or spas. It is common for plastic surgery practices and dermatologists' offices to employ aestheticians due to the nature of their clientele. However, some primary care practices may offer aesthetician's services as an added convenience, and as a way to attract patients and increase practice revenue.

Aestheticians may also be self-employed and contract themselves out to medical facilities, or just build their own client base and maintain their own office space, but this is not as common.

What Do Aestheticians Do? Job Duties:

Depending on experience and training, aestheticians provide a wide variety of services and procedures. They will meet with clients (or patients) by appointment, and consult on skin care needs. Aestheticians will examine the patient's skin and recommend a skincare regimen and products, provide pre- and post-operative skin care, or help manage effects of diseases or skin conditions such as rashes or other outbreaks. They may help patients minimize the appearance of various skin imperfections such as acne or surgical scars. Aestheticians may also help reduce the effects of aging on the skin.

Common services include chemical peels, facial scrubs, laser treatment, botox injections, cosmetic fillers to reduce lines and wrinkles, and more. Not all aestheticians are trained and experienced in the same procedures.

Job Outlook for Medical Aestheticians:

Are there many aestheticians' job openings available? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are about 47,000 aestheticians and medical aestheticians employed in the United States. The BLS projects more than 11,000 new jobs to be added, which is a strong 25 percent growth rate, and one that is "faster than average".

Average Income for Medical Aestheticians:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the median annual salary for aestheticians as $28,920 annually, which equates to about $13.90 per hour.

How to Become a Medical Aesthetician:

Aestheticians must complete a training program that is accredited by the State Board of Cosmetology. Additionally, all states except Connecticut require a certification exam for licensure. Specific requirements for aesthetician licensure and certification vary by state, so be sure to check with your state board where you wish to practice.

Additionally, before you enroll for a training program, be sure to research the program and make sure it is authentic and provides the appropriate training.

Tips for Prospective Aestheticians and Skincare Specialists:

If you are hoping to be an aesthetician, how can you be successful? Katie Patton, a licensed medical aesthetician in Atlanta, Georgia, says "be tenacious. Believe in what you are doing and selling." She adds, "Do your homework... maybe even take an additional anatomy or medical terminology class, which will make you more attractive to a medical employer or physicians' group, as opposed to a spa or salon."

Additionally, Katie advises that working as an aesthetician is not without its challenges. Overcoming patients' expectations after they've tried a regimen without the best results can be tough, as can overcoming misleading television commercials or internet advertisements.

Perks and Drawbacks of Being an Aesthetician:

What's to love about being a medical aesthetician? If you love helping others to feel and look their best, this career could be very rewarding for you, especially if you are passionate about skin care. Job growth is projected to be very strong, so there should be a better chance of landing a job as an aesthetician.

However, as medical careers go, being an aesthetician is not one of the highest paying medical careers. If you are looking for a particularly lucrative career, you may want to look into other careers in the field of dermatology such as being a dermatology nurse or even a dermatologist. However, those careers require many more years of school and training.

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