Esthetician Job Description

Estheticians are personal care experts who specialize in skin and nail care. They often are the first ones to notice skin cancers and other diseases of the skin.

Estheticians are personal care experts who specialize in skin and nail care. They often are the first ones to notice skin cancers and other diseases of the skin.

The esthetician job description is bundled by The bureau of labor statistics (BLS) into a diverse group of job descriptions under one category called Barbers, Cosmetologists, and Other Personal Appearance Workers. This category includes beauticians, estheticians, skin care specialists, hairdressers, manicurists, pedicurists and electrologists. The job descriptions for these workers share a number of similarities as they are all focused on personal appearance, grooming and other specialized services.

The BLS lists the esthetician as a skin care specialist,  There are references that describe it as someone specializing in hand care such as a manicurist.  

In addition to working with clients, personal appearance workers or estheticians are expected to maintain clean work areas and sanitize all their work instruments. They may make appointments and keep records of hair color and permanent-wave formulas used by their regular clients. A growing number actively sell hair care products and other cosmetic supplies.

Barbers, cosmetologists, and other personal appearance workers who operate their own salons have managerial duties that may include hiring, supervising, and firing workers, as well as keeping business and inventory records, ordering supplies, and arranging for advertising.

Alternate Titles:  cosmetologist, manicurist, beautician, nail tech, beauty therapist

Working Environment

Estheticians or skin care specialists, barbers, cosmetologists, and other personal appearance workers usually work in clean, pleasant surroundings with good lighting and ventilation. Good health and stamina are important, because these workers are on their feet for most of their shift. Prolonged exposure to some hair and nail chemicals may cause irritation, so protective clothing, such as plastic gloves or aprons, may be worn.

Most full-time skin care specialists or estheticians, barbers, cosmetologists, and other personal appearance workers put in a 40-hour week, but longer hours are common, especially among self-employed workers. Work schedules may include evenings and weekends, the times when beauty salons and barbershops are busiest. Barbers and cosmetologists generally work on weekends and during lunch and evening hours; as a result, they may arrange to take breaks during less busy times. About half of the people working in this industry work part time.

Training and Qualifications to become an Esthetician 

Public and private vocational schools offer daytime or evening classes in barbering and cosmetology. Full-time programs in barbering and cosmetology usually last 9 to 24 months, but training for manicurists and pedicurists, skin care specialists, and electrologists requires significantly less time. An apprenticeship program can last from 1 to 3 years. Shampooers generally do not need formal training or a license.

Formal training programs include classroom study, demonstrations, and practical work. Students study the basic services—cutting and styling hair, chemically treating hair, shaving customers, and giving hair and scalp treatments—and, under supervision, practice on customers in school “clinics.”

Students attend lectures on the use and care of instruments, sanitation and hygiene, chemistry, anatomy, physiology, and the recognition of simple skin ailments. Instruction also is provided in communication, sales, and general business practices. Experienced barbers and cosmetologists may take advanced courses in hairstyling, coloring, the sale and service of wigs and hairpieces, and sales and marketing.


Licensing and Credentialing

After graduating from a training program, students can take a State licensing examination, which consists of a written test and, in some cases, a practical test of styling skills based on established performance criteria. A few States include an oral examination in which applicants are asked to explain the procedures they are following while taking the practical test.

In many States, cosmetology training may be credited toward a barbering license, and vice versa. A few States combine the two licenses into one hairstyling license. Many States require separate licensing examinations for manicurists, pedicurists, and skin care specialists.

All States require barbers, cosmetologists, and most other personal appearance workers, with the exception of shampooers, to be licensed; however, qualifications for a license vary by State. Generally, a person must have graduated from a State-licensed barber or cosmetology school and be at least 16 years old. A few States require applicants to pass a physical examination.

Some States require graduation from high school, while others require as little as an eighth-grade education. In a few States, the completion of an apprenticeship can substitute for graduation from a school, but very few barbers or cosmetologists learn their skills in this way. Applicants for a license usually are required to pass a written test and demonstrate an ability to perform basic barbering or cosmetology services.

Significant Points

Job opportunities generally should be good, but competition is expected for jobs and clients at higher paying salons; opportunities will be best for those licensed to provide a broad range of services.

A State license is required for barbers, cosmetologists, and most other personal appearance workers, with the exception of shampooers; qualifications vary by State.

About 48 percent of workers are self-employed; many also work flexible schedules.

Career Progression

The majority of these workers are engaged in private practice. Unless they work for a major corporation promotions and advancement will be limited. Increases in salary will come from raising their fees and/or passing on rising costs to the consumer.

For those who are employed advancement will vary depending on the size of the organization. A number of national corporations provide salon services and the opportunity exists for positions such as regional manager or similar job title.

Resources for Esthetician Job Description

Skincare specialists Job Description Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition.

Society of Dermatology Skincare Specialists  484 Spring Avenue, Ridgewood, NJ 07450-4624 Phone: (201) 670-4100


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