How Much College Does it Take to Become an Esthetician?

by Van Thompson

    If you're passionate about skincare and would like to help people look their best, consider a career in esthetics. As an esthetician, you will provide a wide variety of services, such as giving facials, making recommendations to maintain healthy skin or performing hair removal. The profession is licensed, which means that each state establishes specific standards an esthetician has to meet before she can begin marketing her services. Estheticians do not need to attend college, but they will have to get specialized training.

    In most states, licensed estheticians need a high school diploma or GED equivalency, and many esthetician schools also require completion of high school or an equivalency to begin training. A high school diploma also provides basic writing, communication and accounting skills needed to manage your business, interact with customers, market your services and keep track of finances.

    Every state requires that estheticians attend courses designed to teach them skincare techniques such as exfoliation and facial massage, along with safe practices (hygiene) and federal and state safety regulations. These training courses may be offered through a beauty school or a state-certified program. Some large spas also offer training programs designed to meet state licensing requirements. The number of classes you'll need to take and the time needed to complete your training varies from state to state.

    While you don't have to go to college to become an esthetician, some community colleges offer two-year associate's degrees or certificate programs in cosmetology or esthetics. Although cosmetology and esthetics can be different careers, some cosmetology programs meet state requirements for graduates to practice either cosmetology or esthetics. Other states have separate requirements for cosmetologists and estheticians. Some high-end employers may require that their employees attend or graduate college, and estheticians who work in a medical setting may need to complete an associate's degree in paramedical aesthetics.

    After you complete your training, you'll have to become licensed in your state. The majority of states require 600 hours of training to obtain a license, but some states require as little as 250 hours, and others may require 1,000 hours or more. States generally require that you pay a fee and complete a certain number of supervised hours -- which may be in addition to the number of hours required in the classroom. Estheticians must take a board examination, either in cosmetology in states that do not have a separate esthetics license, or in esthetics. The exam generally has a written and practical component. Some states require estheticians to attend regular continuing education classes to retain their licenses. The number of mandatory hours of continuing education units (CEU) also varies by state.

    About the Author

    Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.

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