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Esthetician training, certification and school

Read these tips on finding the best esthetician training program and school for you.

cosmetology esthetician at work

Completing your esthetician training can lead to a highly rewarding career of making a difference in the wellness of your clients.

On average, esthetician training programs take between six and 12 months to complete, depending on whether you want to earn a basic license or a master’s license through your state board of cosmetology.

Remember that your top esthetician school choices should meet your state’s requirements when it comes to curriculum content and prepare you to sit for your state’s certification exam.

Esthetician Training Programs

The esthetician school you choose should match not only your professional interests but your personal ones. In the end, you should make a choice that balances practical aspects with your instincts about the school after you make a campus visit.

As you research, craft some questions to ask advisors, faculty, and even current students when you visit campuses. Some questions you might ask include:

  • What’s the school curriculum?
  • What’s the level of experience of the school faculty?
  • What’s the total tuition cost?
  • What financial aid assistance is available for students?
  • How many hours of hands-on practice does the curriculum provide?
  • What sort of job placement services does the esthetician school offer?

After all, training is an investment in your future, so the best school should meet your standards and feel like a good choice that’s worth your time and money.

Typical Esthetician Courses

Esthetician training program content will vary from school to school. However, top esthetician school programs will include training in these essential areas:

  • Skin care and massage
  • Facial treatments
  • Skin analysis
  • Salt glows
  • Body wraps
  • Aromatherapy
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Diseases and body systems
  • Safety, sanitation, and hygiene practices
  • Professional ethics
  • Career development and business practices

Students interested in earning a master license in esthetics will complete additional coursework in these areas:

  • Laser hair removal
  • Microdermabrasion
  • Chemical peels
  • Nutrition and wellness
  • Advanced massage and facial treatments

Basic Licensing

To attain a basic esthetician license, you must complete a training program that includes courses in skin analysis, facial massage techniques, and other skin care topics and pass the basic licensing exam.

A basic esthetician license qualifies you for entry-level positions in spas and salons across the country. Through the experience you gain on the job, you’ll grow your client base and create numerous opportunities to achieve higher levels of responsibility and autonomy as you become a more seasoned esthetician.

The majority of states require a minimum of 600-course hours in order to earn a basic license, with some states requiring up to 750. Refer to your state’s board of cosmetology for details.

After you’ve earned your license, you’ll need to renew it on a regular basis. Renewals usually involve paying a fee and completing esthetician continuing education courses within a stated time period.

Master Licensing

Earning a master esthetician license involves the same extensive skin therapy training as a basic license, plus advanced coursework and hands-on practice in medical esthetician skills, including microdermabrasion, laser hair removal, and laser skin therapy.

In addition to spas and salons, a master esthetician license qualifies you for positions in medispas and health care centers, working with dermatologists, plastic surgeons, and other physicians to help treat patients dealing with a range of skin conditions or recovering from injuries or surgeries.

After you complete your advanced esthetician training, typically a minimum of 1,200 to 1,500 hours of coursework, you’ll need to pass a master licensing exam. Check with your state’s board of cosmetology for details and requirements. Renewing a master license usually involves the same process as renewing a basic one.

NCEA Esthetician Certification

The National Coalition of Estheticians, Manufacturers/Distributors, and Associations (NCEA) is the esthetician certification standard set by American estheticians.

Being NCEA certified means that you have a seal of approval on your esthetician education and makes you qualified for the spa or salon esthetician workplace. NCEA certification represents the highest skin care credential in the U.S.

Being NCEA certified helps prepare you for state esthetician licensing because the program includes the required course hours. All U.S. states and many areas of Canada require that estheticians have either a basic license or master license. The national average for course hours completed is 650 for a basic license.

Esthetician Continuing Education

Not only is esthetician continuing education essential to staying current in the field but it’s also required for maintaining licensure. This process ensures that practitioners meet current standards for competency and professionalism in the industry.

Throughout your career, you can expect to take advantage of esthetician continuing education to broaden your skills and expand your professional opportunities.

5 Career Tips from a Professional Esthetician

Fauzia Morgan licensed esthetician

Here are some nuggets of wisdom from a professional esthetician who created her own successful skin therapy business.

Fauzia Morgan is a licensed esthetician who graduated from the Euro Institute of Skin Care. Her specialties are facials, resurfacing peels, and body treatments.

#1 – Do what you love

Morgan’s advice is to be yourself and do what you love. Her approach to esthetics is holistic and rooted in her own experience. After struggling with chronic acne, Morgan learned to heal her body from the inside out through acupuncture and dietary changes.

Then, while working at an integrative pharmacy, she realized that she was able to help other people with their skin by recommending natural skin care products and making referrals to naturopaths, nutritionists, acupuncturists, and herbalists.

She decided to translate this talent into an esthetician job. Morgan chose an esthetician school that emphasized the whole body and the ways in which internal health affects the skin.

 #2 – Network

When she started as an esthetician, Morgan built a professional website and joined online networking groups. She spent six months participating in a referral-based networking group called Business Networking International (BNI).

“I had to stand up and give a commercial about myself every week. It really helps you get clear about who you are, what you do, and how to confidently market yourself. It’s so important to have a good answer when people ask you what you do. It’s also important to know other professionals in related fields—nutritionists, homeopaths, massage therapists, and others—so you can make informed referrals.”

Also: Buddy up! Sharing space and clients with other professionals can be a great way to build your business. Morgan initially partnered with a massage therapist in order to open a larger practice space.

#3 – Be product-savvy—and sincere

Estheticians typically offer clients a professional line of products that aren’t available in retail stores. They should be carefully chosen—or curated—luxuries. Organic and natural products are increasingly popular with eco-conscious consumers.

“I can only sell something I believe in 100 percent,” Morgan explains. “People want products that will really work for their skin. People trust me because I’m passionate about the products and I know them well.”

#4 – Know your own worth

New estheticians should look at the industry standard, which is at least a dollar per minute, and then look at what others are charging locally. Settle at a fair price that makes you feel properly compensated.

Estheticians may price their services lower because they expect tips. While tipping is a common courtesy at a salon, where clients know you’re only getting a portion of the price they pay for a service, it should not be expected when you work for yourself.

Clients depend on an esthetician to create and maintain professional boundaries, so they can relax and enjoy their time. New practitioners may write out clear policies about everything before they start, including returns, cancellations, pricing, and hours.

“It’s hard to be firm when it’s such a feel-good service. But if you respect yourself, other people will respect you,” says Morgan.

 #5 – Keep learning

It’s important to keep building your skills. Many skin care lines offer courses to the professionals who use their products. Trade shows, such as the International Congress of Esthetics and Spa, can be a great source of information.

Like many estheticians, Morgan gets her insurance through Associated Skin Care Professionals (ASCP). She receives information about developments in the field through their website and quarterly publication.

You can also enhance your practice by developing related skills and knowledge. Morgan reads a lot about nutrition because even though she’s not a nutritionist, she talks to her clients about how important diet and supplements can be for healing the skin.

Classes in massage therapy or aromatherapy are also helpful to many estheticians. Or, if you’re a medical esthetician, you may want to take courses in Botox or laser hair removal.

Bonus – Never sacrifice self-care

“Taking care of yourself is so important when you’re in a field where you take care of other people,” says Morgan.

Even if you only get short breaks between clients, make them count. Stretch, eat, go for a quick walk, meditate or do whatever helps you avoid feeling stressed out. In terms of overall lifestyle, a healthy diet and regular exercise are essential.

“People are coming to you for a peaceful experience and for their monthly or bi-monthly treat. You have to be grounded. You have to be in good mental, physical and emotional space.”


Written and reported by:
Natural Healers Team

fauzia morgan

With professional insight from:
Fauzia Morgan

Licensed Esthetician, Certified Nutritionist & Human Design Projector