Medical Aesthetician Vs. Spa Esthetician

The medical or spa skincare specialist fields are a growing occupation.

Medical aestheticians and spa estheticians are well versed in the theories of beauty and artistic expression. These two terms can refer to the same professionals, who are also generally known as skincare specialists. They are rigorously trained and credentialed in their field to provide advanced skincare, from analyzing skin types to performing facials to assisting in reconstructive surgery.

Beauty is Only Skin Deep

Estheticians are licensed to perform noninvasive skincare procedures, whether in a salon or a medical setting. They are qualified to address extrinsic skin conditions, most often of the face, resulting from sun damage, acne, aging, illness or injury. Techniques used may include facials, skin peels, microdermabrasion and exfoliation. The skincare training required to work at a spa or in a medical setting is the same and is offered at schools approved by your state’s board of cosmetology or equivalent agency. Requirements for licensing, certification and continuing education vary by state, and you will also receive extensive on-the-job orientation to learn the procedures and protocols of your employer.

Beauty is on the Inside

Some estheticians work with patients who have a medical necessity for skincare services. If you choose this area, you will be a member of a medical team, most likely working with a plastic surgeon or dermatologist in a clinical setting, such as a hospital or doctor’s office. While you are trained and credentialed to perform noninvasive procedures, you may find yourself assisting with pre- and post-operative treatments to provide preventive, palliative or cosmetic care for patients with burns or other injuries. Your duties may be as varied as performing skincare techniques to teaching patients how to minimize the appearance of scars through the use of cosmetics.

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

Other estheticians work in salons or spas. After consulting with your client to analyze her skin type and discuss recommended therapy, a spa esthetician performs a wide range of noninvasive procedures. Facials, deep cleansing, waxing, pore extractions, toning and eyebrow tinting are among the most common spa procedures performed. Many spas and salons also offer complementary services, such as manicures, pedicures, hair cuts and massage therapy, which are also regulated by the state’s board of cosmetology. Estheticians who work in spas may decide to also become licensed in these related areas to offer a wide range of services.

Beauty and the Beast

If you have a propensity for and interest in the medical side of skincare, you may find a career as a medical esthetician more satisfying. However, if your interests and skills lean toward the artistic direction, a spa position may be the better fit. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment of skincare specialists is expected to grow by 25 percent between 2010 and 2020, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. The aging baby boomer population combined with the popularity of spas, and the growing number of beauty salons should result in continued solid job opportunities for this career, whether as a medical or spa esthetician.

2016 Salary Information for Skincare Specialists

Skincare specialists earned a median annual salary of $30,270 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, skincare specialists earned a 25th percentile salary of $21,960, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $42,810, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 61,300 people were employed in the U.S. as skincare specialists.

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