If you enjoy skin care and the treatment of skin problems, but are more interested in going into the medical field than the cosmetic industry, you may want to consider a career as a medical aesthetician. With a booming need for these medical professionals, you can expect to have your pick of open positions after receiving your license. Read on to learn more about the education, experience, and other credentials you'll need to pursue a career as an aesthetician, as well as the potential salary and other benefits you may be able to expect.
What does an aesthetician do?
The general term "aesthetician" refers to someone who performs skin care on others. However, as with many careers, the aesthetics field branches off into several very different areas.
Cosmetic aestheticians often work in salons or spas and perform manicures, pedicures, facials, laser hair removal, and other skin and cosmetic procedures on customers. Some cosmetic aestheticians may concentrate on the treatment of skin problems, like acne or wrinkles, while others may focus more on the removal of unwanted hair or the maintenance of healthy skin and nails.
An aesthetician who works in a medical setting also performs skin procedures, but does so less for cosmetic purposes and more for health and safety purposes. Medical aestheticians are most often used in hospital burn wards, oncology units (to handle skin problems caused by chemotherapy and radiation) or other medical settings. Some medical aestheticians may work in the home health context, helping prevent patients from developing bed sores, varicose veins, or other skin problems stemming from long periods of inactivity.
What type of education do you need to become a medical aesthetician?
Becoming a medical aesthetician is one way to have a role on the front lines of the healthcare industry without having to go through years of formal schooling to become a doctor or nurse. Although all states will require you to undergo an accredited cosmetology program and take a licensing exam before working as an aesthetician, these programs are generally available through local community colleges for a relatively low cost.
If you've already obtained an associates or bachelor's degree, you will likely still have to complete your state's required cosmetology program before taking your licensing exam. However, if your underlying degree is in a science or medical field, you may be able to start working at a higher salary than you would if you had only a cosmetic license or certification.
How much can you earn as an aesthetician?
The average salary for an aesthetician in 2013 was around $33,000. This includes both cosmetic and medical aestheticians and can be somewhat skewed, as a fair number of cosmetic aestheticians don't work full-time. Although the pay is comparable between both fields, medical aestheticians tend to earn slightly more than cosmetic aestheticians with the same credentials and years of experience.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects about a 40% increase in the number of aestheticians needed across the U.S., which is a much higher rate of job growth than most other professions. By choosing this career path, you can dramatically reduce your chances of unemployment or underemployment.
What types of benefits can you expect?
One of the primary benefits inherent in this career is its flexibility and portability. Although you won't be able to set up a shop in your own home, as some cosmetic aestheticians do, you'll be able to choose whether to work in a hospital or home health care setting.
If you work full-time for a hospital, you'll likely be offered a competitive benefits package comparable to that received by physicians, nurses, and other skilled medical professionals.
To learn more, go to websites of local aesthetician schools.